It’s hard to find a space in the home today that hasn’t been affected by technology, from our private bedrooms and bathrooms to our indoor and outdoor public gathering areas. What technologies have real benefits to our health, safety, functionality, or comfort? Thousands of design and construction professionals will gather in Dallas for the CEDIA Expo later this month to see the latest offerings. Here’s a preview of what you’ll be looking for and seeing.
The wellness potential of technology
In his role as director of the Media and Innovation Laboratory at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Dr. Azizi Seixas has been looking at smart home technology with an eye to how it can make people and communities more healthy. He is tracking solutions that emphasize clinical care in the home, he says. “These technologies include telehealth, advanced remote patient monitoring, devices that measure poor air quality and provide solutions to improve it,” he shares. He’s also tracking monitoring tools for older adults with cognitive decline and dementia, he says. “There is a device called IQ Air that measures and tracks air quality. They have indoor and outdoor sensors and an app that provides recommendations on how to improve air quality,” he notes. He will be numerous exhibitors focused on indoor air quality at the show.
“I am also excited about the transformation of appliances and accessories from simple tools to new solutions that promote health.” Kohler, LG, Samsung, Legrand and other brands will also be present.
Seixas notes that smart home technologies can help manage “chronic health conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, dementia, fall detection in older adults, Parkinson’s and asthma. He points to an example that could save lives: “Fall detection is a key example of how smart home technology can affect health. There are smart beds and fall detection systems that can help determine if an older adult will fall through gait analysis and therefore make their living environment a safe place to age in place.” Falls are one of the leading causes of hospitalization and morbidity for older adults, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
The doctor mentions additional aspects of smart home technology that support health and wellness. “Homes are now incorporating a variety of light-harvesting devices, fixtures such as smart blinds, smart light bulbs, automatic blackout shades, and windows that let in the right amount of light to regulate people’s circadian rhythm and health.” He also points to smart water filtration and robotics (including voice assistance through Siri, Alexa, Google and Pillo Health), which can also help with safety and independence in the home, he adds.
Molly Switzer, based in Portland, Oregon, is one of the design professionals frequently turned to by industry groups to take the pulse of tech-savvy designers. She was a source for the National Kitchen and Bath Association’s recent study on millennials and smart home technology, and has been invited on the design tour at previous CEDIA expos. Like Seixas, she is interested in automated window coverings, including how they can improve energy efficiency. As homes increase their demand for energy, she sees this as a crucial conversation. “How new technologies can take the home off the grid not only during the sunny part of the day, but also capture that energy and use it at night” is part of a larger conversation about home management, she notes.
One of the rooms that Switzer is seeing enhanced with technology is the laundry or utility room. “More washers/dryers/special cleaning systems can send homeowners automatic notifications when loads are finished, allowing those of us with mommy brains to remember that the laundry load is ready to be moved instead. to forget her all day. long.” (That’s great for reducing the chance of mold and also last-minute stress.)
“I try to talk to customers about convenient settings, things that we certainly don’t know we need until they are presented to us…then we wonder how we ever lived without them!” Switzerland declares. “My favorite example is in our house after 10pm, we have the lights set to only come on at 10% when they are on. My midnight foray into the pantry will give me a low-level amount of light, enough to get most tasks done in the middle of the night without waking up my body any more than necessary.”
It’s important to share these kinds of tricks, says the designer, noting that smart home management brands are providing designer guides for such solutions. “We shouldn’t be reinventing the wheel every time we help a client determine what might work best for their programming needs. These anticipatory actions that can be easily integrated into homes are what make smart homes really useful.”
Switzer sees smart home technology for working from home, security and home entertainment as a trend as a result of customers becoming more sensitive to their surroundings. “Covid has added a huge level of importance to home entertainment, both indoors and outdoors, where customers really felt like they could enjoy entertainment again for the first time,” she shares.
Anticipation of the exhibition
Walt Zerbe, senior director of technology and standards at CEDIA and host of the CEDIA Podcast, has seen a shift in the role of technology integrators from product specifiers to life solution providers. “I expect to see a lot of cool ‘tools’ on the show floor this year, but ultimately the trend we need to focus on is using design thinking to create systems that meet the needs of every member of the household, and so outside the box. view as possible.” He sees this embrace of hyper-personalization and active assistive technologies as “ripe for a holistic look at how the integrator can provide well-being for its occupants.”
Zerbe also sees outdoor space as a major focus for new offerings. “This area was growing but, with many of us working from home for two years, it has accelerated in use and desire to equip.” This is especially relevant as gathering outdoors has been shown to be less likely to be a spreader of Covid than indoors.
“I expect to see major improvements in equipment, platforms and communication systems, such as microphones that form beams, cameras that have much higher image quality, focus ranges and things similar to a quality digital camera.” (All of these can improve communication with loved ones and health providers.)
“Next, I think I’m going to see a lot more lighting and shade products, with variable color temperature, high CRI and low voltage. This is for both indoors and outdoors. And yes, COVID has played a role in accelerating this,” says Zerbe.
“I think one area that is sorely missed is acoustics. There are currently trends to design rooms with many hard materials (stone, wood, steel, glass, etc.). The world is getting noisier,” she observes. “Tranquility brings well-being; it can calm you down, help you do yoga or meditate, think, work, relax. That is an example that is personal to me and at the top of my list. I also say this because our hearing is a sense that you cannot turn off! Anticipate seeing the technology improve noise reduction at the show.
He also predicts that exhibitors will lean on the new holistic approach integrators are taking towards clients and relationships between designers, builders and architects. “I hope that some who expand their offerings will move more into this space.”
Collaborators Zerbe, Switzer and Seixas will share his smart home insights in an hour-long conversation in the Clubhouse tomorrow afternoon (September 7, 2022) at 4 pm ET/1 pm PT. You can join this discussion WELLNESS WEDNESDAYS here. If you can’t attend, you can watch the recording through Clubhouse Replays here or the Gold Notes design blog here next Wednesday.