Apple has just announced that it is partnering with Japan Post Group in a “first-of-its-kind initiative” to improve the quality of life of elderly Japanese people. Apple and IBM will be delivering iPads with apps tailor made by the latter to connect elders with health care services and their families.

Billed as a first-of-its-kind initiative, it’ll provide iPads to millions of senior citizens after Japan Post Group piloted iPads and apps custom developed for the elderly earlier this year.

These iPads come preloaded with IBM-developed apps and analytics to connect people with services, healthcare, community and their families. The staggered release will see between four and five million Japanese customers get their iPads by 2020.

Japan’s Nikkei news agency adds that information about the location and movements of seniors collected from these iPads will be analyzed by IBM’s Watson super computer.

“Japan is home to the fastest-aging society in the world,” Japan Post Group president and CEO Taizo Nishimuro, himself nearly 80 years old, said during the news conference.
Japan Post Group offers a Watch Over service under which mail carriers check in on older people of families residing in different areas of Japan or outside the country for a nominal fee. Apple, IBM and Japan Group are aiming to enhance this service with the iPad that will allow families to easily connect and check in on the health of their elderlies.

“We are joining with two of the world’s most respected leaders in technology to bring our elderly generation into the connected world, expand our businesses by deepening relationships, and discover new ways to strengthen the fabric of our society and economy,” said Taizo Nishimuro, CEO of Japan Post Group.
“This initiative has potential for global impact, as many countries face the challenge of supporting an aging population, and we are honored to be involved in supporting Japan’s senior citizens and helping enrich their lives,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s 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 initiative includes:

  • iPad® and its intuitive built-in apps, capabilities and features including FaceTime®, Messages, Mail, Photos and iCloud® Photo Sharing, along with access to rich content in the App Storeâ„ , iTunes Store® and iBooks Storeâ„ . iOS 8, offering award-winning accessibility features, including settings for low vision and hearing impaired users.
  • Custom-built apps specifically for the elderly by IBM Global Business Services for reminders and alerts about medications, exercise and diet, along with direct access to community activities and supporting services such as grocery shopping and job matching.
  • Exclusive cloud services of the IBM MobileFirst for iOS platform, for data integration and security, analytics, and management of millions of devices; along with systems integration services and training for Japan Post Group employees.
  • Pioneering text analytics and accessibility technologies, many invented in IBM Research – Tokyo, including Japanese natural language analysis and tracking to guide seniors and make the experience more natural.
  • The nationwide infrastructure of Japan Post Group and its ability to cover the “last mile” to virtually every citizen of Japan. In addition to 24,000 post offices and a workforce of 400,000, Japan Post Group has existing financial relationships with nearly all of the 115 million adults in Japan.

“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,” he was quoted as saying in the media release.

According to Japan Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare’s “Comprehensive Survey of Living Conditions 2013” study, more than 33 million seniors make up about 25 percent of Japan’s population, projected to grow to 40 percent over the next 40 years.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Japan Post is a government-owned holding company that runs 24,000 post offices as well as one of the world’s biggest banks and Japan’s largest insurer.


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