Helgesen’s home is a proving ground for this fledgling unit, called Assured Living, now open for business in Denver as well as the Twin Cities area. If the two test markets work out, Best Buy Chief Executive Officer Hubert Joly envisions rolling out a broader business of sensor-based senior services, sold through health-and-wellness departments in Best Buy’s more than 1,000 stores. He concedes it’s a bit of a stretch for the electronics retailer: “We’re not top of mind” in the geriatric-care market.
For now, Best Buy is one of a number of consumer and tech companies jockeying for position in a race for a likely $50 billion market to remotely look after grandma. Joly calls it “white space waiting to be captured.” Google, Microsoft, and Samsung are all going after the smart-home market with networked gear such as security cameras and thermostats that can be managed by voice controllers or smartphones. Amazon.com Inc. has already introduced a smart-home installation program in several West Coast cities. All of these systems could easily be tailored to keep an eye on the elderly.