Japan Post Group, IBM and Apple team up to provide tablets and communication and healthcare apps to senior citizens
Millions of senior citizens in Japan will be given iPads equipped with custom IBM-developed apps designed to improve access to public services and healthcare and to connect with the local community and families.
The tablets will be distributed through the Japan Post Group, which claims to be able to reach virtually every citizen in the country through its 24,000 post offices and 400,000 workers.
It already offers a ‘Watch Over’ service, where staff check on elderly customers for a nominal fee to reassure family members of relatives’ wellbeing, and through its postal, banking and insurance divisions already has a financial relationship with virtually every adult in the country.
iPads for the elderly
Japan has one of the most aging populations in the world, with 33 million elderly citizens making up 25 percent of the population – a percentage which is set to grow to 40 percent over the next 40 years, presenting a number of economic and social challenges that it is hoped the tablets can help solve.
“The potential we see here — as broad as national economics and as specific as the quality of life of individuals and their families — is one example of the potential of mobile-led transformation anywhere in the world where issues of an aging population exist,” said Taizo Nishimuro, CEO of Japan Post Group.
The iPads will come equipped with standard Apple applications and access to the iTunes, iBook and App Store, as well as custom healthcare, exercise, diet and community applications and reminders.
IBM’s cloud platform will be used to power the security and management of the millions of devices, while the company’s text analytics and accessibility technology, along with settings for low vision and hearing impaired users, will make the iPads easy to operate.
The first batch of the tablets will be rolled out in the second half of 2015 as part of the Watch Over service and it is hoped that four to five million Japan Post Group customers will be reached by 2020.
“This initiative has potential for global impact, as many countries face the challenge of supporting an aging population, and we are honoured to be involved in supporting Japan’s senior citizens and helping enrich their lives,” said Tim Cook, Apple CEO. “iPad is incredibly intuitive, easy to use and has accessibility features built in, making it a perfect device for any generation to be connected and engaged.”
“The potential we see here — as broad as national economics and as specific as the quality of life of individuals and their families — is one example of the potential of mobile-led transformation anywhere in the world where issues of an aging population exist,” added Ginni Rometty, IBM CEO.
The initiative is part of the agreement struck last year between Apple and IBM to develop industry-specific applications and provide tablets to mutual customers. Sales of iPads have slowed in recent times and Apple views the enterprise market as a way of offsetting decreasing demand in the consumer market.
The first IBM industry-specific applications were made available to customers in the transport, finance and retail sectors last December while the two partners have also teamed up on the Watson Health Cloud.
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