Apple, IBM, and Japan Post Group deliver iPads and custom apps to connect elderly in Japan to services, family and community

Japan Post Group, IBM and Apple today announced a first-of-its-kind initiative aimed at improving the quality of life for millions of Japanese senior citizens. Built on the global partnership Apple and IBM announced last year, the new initiative will deliver iPads with IBM-developed apps and analytics to connect millions of seniors with services, healthcare, community and their families.

After piloting iPads and apps custom developed for the elderly, Japan Post Group will expand the service in stages with the objective of including 4 million to 5 million customers in Japan by 2020.

Today 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.*

“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, in a statement.

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 Store, iTunes Store and iBooks Store. 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.

“What we’re starting today draws on IBM’s long heritage of innovation at the intersection of technology, business and society,” said Ginni Rometty, President, Chairman and CEO of IBM, in a statement. “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.”

“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, in a statement. “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.”

Addressing a Global Priority
As a percentage of global population, the elderly will increase from 11.7 percent in 2013 to more than 21 percent by 2050. Every day, 10,000 people turn 65, and 40 percent of seniors live alone or with their spouse only.**

In Japan, these historic generational shifts contribute to an imbalance in the labor force, a concentration of wealth among people who tend to spend less than other age groups, and significant strain on extended families. Today, nearly 180,000 people in Japan between the ages of 15 and 29 provide care for a family member.***

Next Steps
Japan Post Group’s postal operations include the national Watch Over service. For a nominal monthly fee, mail carriers check in on elderly customers and assure families about the well-being of their relatives. That service can now be extended and enhanced with iPad, complementing the in-person monitoring.

Japan Post Group will begin the pilot service in the second half of this year, which will be offered in conjunction with the Watch Over service. The service will expand in stages, ultimately aiming to reach 4 million to 5 million customers in Japan by 2020.

* Japan Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare’s “Comprehensive Survey of Living Conditions 2013”
** UN World Population Aging Report, and US Census Bureau
*** Basic Survey on Employment Structure, 2012, Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, Statistics Bureau

About Japan Post Group
Japan Post Group was established in 2007 under the Postal Service Privatization Act in Japan. Japan Post Holdings provides postal, banking and insurance services through three wholly owned subsidiaries, Japan Post, Japan Post Bank, Japan Post Insurance. Japan Post Holdings had consolidated reported revenue of JPY 15,240 billion (USD 127 billion) and Net Ordinary Income of JPY 1,104 billion (USD 9.2 billion) in the financial year ended 31 March 2014. Japan Post Group employs approximately 400,000 people across 13 branches and 24,000 post offices throughout Japan. Japan Post Group offers various products and services required at any life stage, prioritizing customer’s daily life via a nationwide network.

About IBM MobileFirst
IBM’s 6,000 mobile experts have been at the forefront of mobile enterprise innovation. IBM has secured more than 4,300 patents in mobile, social and security, which have been incorporated into IBM MobileFirst solutions that enable enterprise clients to radically streamline and accelerate mobile adoption, help organizations engage more people and capture new markets. Through IBM’s partnership with Apple, the two organizations are transforming enterprise mobility with a new class of industry specific business apps. For more information on IBM MobileFirst, visit Follow @IBMMobile on Twitter, and see IBM MobileFirst on YouTube, Tumblr and Facebook.

Source: Apple Inc.

MacDailyNews Take: Obviously, this initiative can, and likely will, expand worldwide.


  1. The foundation though, is that the Japanese postal service already has a program in place to check on the elderly which the IBM/Apple partnership leverages. I’m pretty sure the culture in the US wouldn’t permit such a program but perhaps a opt-in, fee-based service might fly. I can certainly see how children who live away from the elderly parents would choose something like this. And if it could be handled non-invasively, without having the give the postal worker access to the home, then maybe it could succeed and support other postal services that they currently have to give away.

  2. This is where the iPad can shine. It’s been hard for the tech industry to see what it can do because it does very little for them. Small companies can’t offer the tech-support that IBM can. Living in the 6th oldest population in the U.S. I know the iPad can be very useful for seniors. However it has been hard for care givers to understand this. It’s not that senior citizens don’t get technology, a lot of them are early adaptors. It’s when their support system, family and health care, is working together then you start to see the benefits. I have lived around old people my whole life, I am excited about this.

  3. So who is picking up the tab on this? Sounds like a great plan but if it isn’t going to be subsidized somewhere (or IBM and Apple are feeling really generous) I’m not sure how many elderly will be able to participate.

  4. They should do that in these elder communities like The Villages in Florida and other community centers in each state as well, especially the medical communication side between the patient and the doctors.

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