Google’s Nest wants a piece of the elder digital healthcare pie

AI oriented companies have an opportunity to expand their operations by powering the digital transformation of healthcare. From incorporating AI solutions in private practices to help physicians better use their time, to bringing them into hospitals for a better organizing of patient data, to using intelligent devices and apps to help patients receive better care - no matter the form, how well the system adjusts to modern problems depends on how AI will be used.

Companies ranging from innovative healthcare startups to global tech giants have seized the opportunity to reinvent healthcare. Recently, Google and GN Hearing produced a hearing aid integrated with Android; Apple brought new heart monitoring Apple Watch Series 4 to the market, Fitbit launched Sleep Score beta and a brand new enterprise health platform – Fitbit Care, while Alphabet subsidiary Google revamped Google Fit before launching Pixel Watch.

All happening in the past few months, the news that another Google subsidiary, Nest, was making a move towards the elderly segment of the digital healthcare market does not surprise too many people in the industry. Since being acquired by Google in 2014, for $3.2 billion, Nest worked on its own, under Google-parent Alphabet. It was brought back into Google in February, so its products, like the home security system and smart thermostat, could be integrated with Google’s artificial intelligence software.

Nest has been very secretive about the way it wants to proceed, after buying Senosis a year ago, but it is pretty clear the company’s interest lie with the elderly, since Nest’s CTO, Yoky Matsuoka, will take part in the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing and Care conference next month.

More than one million Americans live in assisted-living facilities across the U.S., and this potentially huge market could only grow, since baby boomers are aging and they have less people to assist them.

For many, assisted living becomes the only option, since they don’t have family to rely on. For others though, independent living could be achieved in the future with the help of intelligent devices and apps.

Taken together, the time is now for healthcare leaders to embrace artificial intelligence.  

CNBC reported that Amazon was also contemplating the possibility to develop this type of technology, so Google wanting an even bigger piece of the pie is understandable. The project is more than feasible, since existing Nest products can be repurposed for use in elder care. Its camera products could help family members check on loved ones from afar, while smart locks could be programmed to let in caregivers, meal providers, and emergency responders.

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Paul Petersen Author