By Heather Clancy
October 5, 2015

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about buying a larger smartphone, not just because I’m distracted by shiny new objects. To be perfectly frank, squinting at apps that haven’t factored eyes-of-a-certain-age into the interface design has become frustrating. My screen suddenly seems so small. Kudos to the developers that actually include reasonable “accessibility” options. You have my gratitude.

This stream of consciousness was triggered by an MIT Technology Review article talking up the expanding demographic of American workers who now stay on the job well into their 70s. The number is almost 6% now but expected to swell to 8.3% by 2022. As work becomes more digital, the tech industry needs to pay more collective attention to color choices in software applications, screen width options, or even the sensitivity of a computer mouse.

Last week, the AARP and JP Morgan Chase teamed up on a $40 million fund dedicated to inspiring the creation of applications and technologies designed for those over the age of 50. Some of that money is focused on winning over neophytes and Luddites, making technology more “intuitive.” The sort of things talked up in the press materials include sensor applications for safety, fitness apps, telemedicine, and software for maintaining cognitive health. Companies that wind up in the fund will have access to the association’s powerful marketing services. Did I mention that the purchasing power of these Americans will grow to $13.5 trillion by 2032?

Smart millennial technologists would do well to remember that there’s plenty of life after 50. Even grandparents love taking selfies.

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