Technology in the home, historically, has been adopted and accepted for two main reasons: time-saving, and time-enhancing. We began adapting the physical design of our houses to accommodate technology with the advent of fitted kitchens and gas boilers. Now, things are about to change again.
The internet of things will change residential design
The internet of things (IoT) is the industry term for connecting devices like these together, over the internet, to make them work even smarter, and further improve their time-saving and time enhancing capabilities. This will change the design of residential housing, and the development of long-term family housing, with the same revolutionary effect as fitted kitchens.
The internet of things will further blend technology into the design of the home, interlinking rooms digitally using high-speed internet, allowing devices such as the fridge or television, to interact and support the resident. Home technology is being upgraded from time-saving to potentially life-saving.
The Golden Years for IoT and the post-60 housing model
The new model of housing for the post-60 market in the UK is the perfect environment for the internet of things to make a difference. Using connected devices to augment the lifestyles of retirees and support their health and social care will make a difference to their quality of living. We believe that smart devices, which support mobility, social inclusion and independence, will become as indispensable as in-built appliances are today. We’re entering the golden years for the IoT.
2016 research from estate agents Knight Frank shows that around 25 per cent of over-55s said they wanted to move into some sort of retirement housing in the future. This equates to around 2.5 million households. However, many would rather stay in their own homes and adapt the design of their surroundings. Family houses are becoming an even longer-term investment; homes that enable an entire lifetime of comfort and support, while retaining independence. The IoT is going to enable housebuilders and investors to produce competitive offerings to support this demand.
What’s going to drive the change?
In short, a high-speed internet connection will, within a relatively short space of time, be a utility that’s expected by people of all ages, including the post-60s. In purpose-built new homes, including retirement living communities and apartments, superfast broadband will be pre-available, installed, and part of the package. The internet of things will then be enabled, and can layer smart devices on top of the connection, to attract buyers to developments by demonstrating life-supporting and enhancing features.
Appello’s top five IoT developments to watch
We’re developing IoT-capable services and solutions for our retirement living customers. Here’s our top five technologies that we believe are going to bring these golden years of the IoT to life for post-60s residential developments.
- The personal monitoring device: Fitbits, Jawbones and Apple Watches and all similar smart devices can be worn more comfortably and discretely by older adults than care bracelets and alarms. These wristbands can collect vital health data, such as heart rate and number of steps completed, which can be gathered and monitored as part of a healthcare support package.
- White goods with smart capabilities: The IoT makes headlines by promising ovens that cook dinner ready for your return from work. However, a more immediate and practical application would be to enable the appliance to carry sensors which record their use. Opened fridge doors suggest food is being prepared and eaten, a water jug emptying suggests a person is drinking. A toilet-flush sensor suggests that a person is using the bathroom. When monitoring many long-term health conditions, this information can prove vital, and monitoring negates the need for invasive visits and embarrassing questions.
- Social inclusion features: Stepping up from the ability to ‘pull a cord and know that help is on its way’, the IoT will focus more on social inclusion and the creation of community. This would feature the construction of apps such as a Facebook-style social tool, available via reliable digital access. Door access and calling for assistance would be delivered via video interaction rather than speakerphone, increasing social interaction and the personal experience.
- The smart TV experience: The TV becomes a community access point in the retirement property. Group activities can be booked, meal plans viewed, video chats with family and friends enabled, and property repairs booked with a video-call to your service provider. A person to talk to, face-to-face, via your tv screen, becomes 24/7 accessible, and normal.
- The digital smart key: House keys will become intelligent key cards, which contain community currency, secure entry to communal rooms and facilities, and are swiped at meal times or for access to essential medication, so that, for example, a diabetic can be remotely monitored. The cards collect data which can be analysed and all the information on the card is stored centrally to ensure security.
For an industry to remain competitive, adapting to technology innovation is a logical path. For those designing retirement living property, and properties to last a lifetime, it’s going to become an essential path. The internet of things’ golden years are on the next page of the calendar.
Carl Atkey is chief technology officer at Appello.