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New Tech, Old Problems At Silvers Summit 2012

We know that baby boomers are a big group of people. We know that in a 3-month period over this last year, baby boomers spent an average of $367 online every month, more than double the amount of those ages 18 to 22 spend online. We know that the dollars spent on caregiving every year can easily beat the number of dollars spent on the average wedding. So, if there's this market of moms and dads and grandparents and caregivers putting their hearts and wallets into these statistics, where's the venture capitalists? Where are the tech blog journalists with their miniature cameras?

You might be surprised.

The Silvers Summit, held during the mother-of-all-tradeshows, the Consumer Electronics Show, has run for the past 8 years. In 2012, it doubled in size. It exhibited a wide variety of products, hosted 39 speakers talking about everything from gaming to customer service, and awarded an inaugural Sterling Award to five companies in five categories. It had a hashtag. Over just one day, 117,430 people on saw coverage of its exhibitors and quotes from its speakers.

You might have expected to see ClearSounds here - my father, at 59, is dependent on products like theirs after early hearing loss - but you might not have expected to see Sterling Award winner LiveMocha, a "language learning community." I've always wanted to visit Istanbul; given the time, I could join LiveMocha and not only take language lessons, but connect with others doing the same thing. Maybe I'd end up meeting a great travel partner; maybe I'd just get to practice my new Turkish with someone across the country I'll never meet.


Much like the Nintendo Wii's crossover appeal to older adults, Sterling Award winner AutoVerbal - aimed at helping kids with autism communicate with the help of pictures - has an obvious appeal for anyone struggling with muscle memory and vision. For caregivers, Sterling Award winner GrandCare's all-in-one-sytem is invaluable - it'll remind you to take your pills, could alert your caregiver that your blood pressure is out of whack, or - simplest of all - makes it easy for you to send your granddaughter a Facebook message. Made-for-seniors computing system  MyGait, a Sterling Award winner in the "Entertainment" category, simplifies all that clicking into an easy-to-use PC system - and for our money, the best part is the keyboard. (It's the simple things.) Check it out - big keys, bright colors!

Sometimes, great products for the aging are just well-designed versions of things we've known all our lives. In the "cause-worthy"


category of the Sterling Award, the inaugural winner GreatGrabz makes elegant, modern versions of the "grab bar" - but also this simple, beautiful robe hook.


Where else in the Consumer Electronics Show would you meet the inventor of the cell phone? The incomparable Marty Cooper  stole the show Tuesday, showing off the first cell phone and promising to tweet more. (Elsewhere, we believe people were following Justin Bieber around.)



We'll post more coverage of the Silvers' Summit exhibitors and breakout sessions - including games! - as we wrap up the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show. You can follow all of our CES coverage here.

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