New program launches to study how 50+ Americans use technology

Project Catalyst

AARP is launching a new program to study how Americans 50-plus use technology, hoping to identify ways to improve the devices for mature consumers.

Dubbed Project Catalyst, it kicks off with a study focused on popular activity and sleep trackers. For the endeavor, AARP has teamed-up with UnitedHealthcare, Pfizer and Georgia Tech Research Institute to “identify challenges and determine solutions to improve the quality of life for people as they age,” according to Jody Holtzman, AARP senior vice president of Thought Leadership.

Project Catalyst will engage consumers in the innovation process by providing feedback on product functionality and design.As part of the Project, Georgia Tech Research Institute is conducting the first study involving up to 80 consumers who are testing five different sleep and activity tracking devices over a six-week period. Researchers will evaluate how participants use the products and will record barriers and user engagement with some of the most popular devices today. Products won’t be ranked, but researchers will determine where the technology is serving the needs of older consumers and areas where the users want improvements.

Product developers will receive results on their products, providing them with actionable insights to help drive innovation. Overall findings about how people in the study use the devices and barriers they find will be shared publicly. The findings from the study on sleep and activity trackers will be available in June 2015.

Project Catalyst is the latest in a series of AARP’s efforts to raise awareness of the economic power of consumers who are 50-plus and conduct research about their wants and needs regarding innovative products. This influential demographic is comprised of over 100 million people responsible for at least $7.1 trillion in annual economic activity – a figure that is expected to reach well over $13.5 trillion in real terms by 2032, according to Oxford Economics.