Sun City, Arizona is heralded as the place where “hip” seniors live. In fact, the longtime retirement mecca was the country’s very first true “active adult” community for recent retirees to play (and play and play) in the sun, amidst the beauty of the desert.

So it’s no surprise that our area boasts some of the most tech-savvy seniors in the country – and big names like Google are noticing.

From our award-winning tech apartment to on-going discussions with Voyage and their autonomous cars, who want us to experiment on our campus with their latest and greatest, Royal Oaks has gotten quite a name for being at the forefront of technology. Organizations from across the country have sought us out to interview residents, trying to understand how the services and products offered by their company can better serve the growing senior community.

This month, it was a group from Google’s headquarters who spent the morning here. Through connections they had within Sun City, this four-person team discovered Royal Oaks’ Tech-Connect group and quickly jetted in to show off some of their in-development products and advertisements and get our opinion on how they can better their offerings.

Tech-Connect is a savvy club of Royal Oaks residents who encourage the use of technology to make life easier for everyone on campus. They are a 15-person “help squad on steroids,” buzzing around the campus to make sure residents have the knowledge to get the most out of their cell phone, tablet, laptop, or desktop. Since an Amazon Echo Show is provided to every new resident, Tech-Connect members also install the device and explain the multitude of uses to the new resident. (The Google folks were surprised at how knowledgeable our residents are about all things technology and dismayed to know we were providing our residents with their competitor’s product!). One of the most sought-after uses of residents using an Echo device is safety. A Tech-Connect member syncs the Echo to the resident’s smart phone. If the resident is in distress, a simple voice command, “Alexa, call Security” will quickly bring one of our rapid response teams to the home.

“The meeting with the Google team was very interesting,” said Claudia Rumwell, one of the Tech-Connect resident leaders. “Google is just now beginning to discover that there is a world where people exist who are over 60! All their advertising is geared to families or ‘cool people’ and definitely not to our age group—who are cooler in our own right. Our input on their products, and particularly their ads, did not at all fall on deaf ears. They took scrupulous notes and I’m happy we were able to lend them insight on how this huge market of baby boomers and beyond could be a booming market for them.”

What about wearables, robots, and our Apartment of the Future?

“I noticed one of our residents wearing an Apple Watch,” said Vicki Ullery, Marketing Director, “and asked him how he uses it. He excitedly told me all the ways it’s changed his life. And it has a real practical purpose, too–he stumbled over some rocks and fell and the device immediately asked him if he wanted it to call 911 and it also sent a text message to his wife. How cool is that?”

Another piece of technology you’ll find Royal Oaks residents using heavily is the resident portal. Our “command central,” the portal allows residents to register for events, check campus-wide activity calendars, find a new bridge partner, make dining reservations, submit work orders, see if our on-campus library has a new book, and much more. Accessible from any device, the portal will, next year, include a voice-activated component; and plans are also underway for the Royal Oaks and Inspirata Pointe app, which will provide even a higher level of connectivity for resident and potential residents.  The Hub is the gathering point for all things “tech” at Royal Oaks–a defined space where resident students learn the latest and greatest.

Royal Oaks is keeping a very keen eye on the robot technology being introduced into the hospitality industry. One major hotel chain in Las Vegas now uses Elvis and Priscilla robots to deliver food and supplies to guests, and our very own robot, Lillee, can greet you when you tour our innovative Apartment of the Future!

Royal Oaks is Sun City’s only Life Plan Community. Come visit and see some of our 23 floor plans (apartments and patio homes). In development is our newest neighborhood, Inspirata Pointe, where we will offer 156 deluxe villas and apartment homes, two additional restaurants, and a new watering hole. Call 623-815-4132 for more information.