IBM whips up a new iPad app to help the elderly

IBM and Apple

Apple and IBM are working together on a piece of software that has the potential to revolutionise the lives of elderly people worldwide.

First reported by the Wall Street Journal, the two companies are working with Japan Post to develop Post Office Watch service software for the iPad that will assist in the care of elderly people.

Post Office Watch was launched at the end of 2013 and allows Japanese Post employees to check on elderly clients, offer consultations and report back to family members. The hope is that eventually the technology will be used by IBM and Apple to bring a similar experience to other countries around the world.

"Where Japan is maybe first, many others will follow," said Apple CEO Tim Cook. "I think this shows the enormous potential of the partnership between IBM and Apple that was announced last year."

The elderly watch service is currently used by just 100 elderly people, who pay a charge of ¥1,000 (around £5.50, $8.33, or AU$10.60) per month. A pilot program that gets underway later this year will give free iPads to 1,000 elderly people and there's currently no word on how much will be charged when it becomes a regular business in April 2016.

Five million users by 2020

By 2020, IBM hopes the software will reach between four and five million Japanese citizens and it success will be gauged against the number of other countries with similar systems.

The new system is just the latest release to come from the partnership signed by Apple and IBM in July 2014, in which IBM has promised to develop enterprise software and apps for Apple's iOS devices including iPhones and iPads.