I’m Jillian Guerra – a 20 something millennial obsessed with my dog, loves running, food, self-care, traveling, and creating connections.
Connecting the Dots
I started Speak2 Family with my partner and friend Matt Smith. Our goal is to make lives better – not the corny, cliche take a video while I’m on the StairMaster better, but improve peoples’ relationships and communication in a healthy, helpful manner.
For me, this was inspired by my grandma. My Grandma immigrated from Ecuador over 40 years ago. She has always been a very independent and hardworking person. However, at 86-years old, my Grandma could no longer safely live by herself. As much as she enjoyed her independence, it was no longer an option for her. She then moved in with my parents. They are now her full-time caregivers.
Aging is an interesting topic – especially the lifecycle of aging. When we’re babies, our parents bathe us, make us dinner, and put us to sleep. As we get older, we need that physical assistance less. A teenager can cook their own dinner. And if they don’t know how, they have technology resources at their disposal to do so.
The Lifecycle of Aging
Seniors and aging adults are an invisible generation when it comes to technological innovation. It’s almost as if technology cannot be developed for this age group and their specific needs. This is shocking, as according to the AARP, close to ten thousand people in the US turn 65 every day. There are plenty of companies out there that sell pendants, bracelets, and hearing aids, but they seem to lack product innovation. Why is that?
It is a classic stereotype that paints our aging loved ones as unskilled and disinterested in technology. To be quite honest, it’s not true. While they are reluctant, aging adults are just as capable and reliant on technology as the rest of us.
In fact, the Boomer generation holds over 57% of our market, spends 3.2 trillion dollars, and holds 54% of house ownership. They are plenty active and do not see themselves as old.
Age-related needs of consumers are one of the most significant areas for opportunities for technologists! These consumers are seeking (and need) products to provide a better user experience. It’s challenging for someone with Arthritis and Parkinson’s to find and click a small icon on their phone to speak with their family. It’s not comfortable or convenient.
Voice is easily the most accessible platform for aging adults and those with visual and tactile issues. Voice assistants make it easier for seniors to safely age in place, stay independent in their homes, and communicate more comfortably with their loved ones.
Welcome to Speak2
Speak2 bridges communication gaps between aging adults and their friends, family, and caregivers. Millennials, Gen Z’s, and Gen X’s communicate with texts and social media apps. Baby Boomers communicate with phones, radio, and voice. We have taken the challenges of being able to introduce new technology, making it usable, and providing essential support and education tools and broken these barriers. With Speak2, aging adults speak directly to Alexa. Then, those messages get delivered to the Speak2 App on any smartphone or tablet.
Our skill on Alexa has chimes, long pauses, and helpful prompts. All designed with the intent to be emotionally pleasing and satisfying. Even though it will be “new” to aging adults, they will want to communicate with Alexa. They’ll want to ask her to play their favorite radio station or have her send a message to their grandchildren.
We designed the Speak2 App with simplicity in mind. Aging adults say, “Alexa, open Speak2,” and they have the option to send a message, make a request, or record an activity. Friends, family, and caregivers receive these messages and can take the appropriate action. They can even set reminders or install routines with items such as reminders to walk, drink water, stretch, or put on their favorite show.
We don’t stay young forever, and technology doesn’t stay stagnant. Each generation will become more dependent on technology than the one before. We will expect technology to suit and serve our needs as we age. Instead of shying away from these challenges, let’s face them with the tools and technology we know best.