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Smart homes for older adults - connected, intelligent, healthy?

What is a Smart Home? Should it be Connected? Gartner Research defines the Connected Home as: “Networked to enable the interconnection and interoperability of multiple devices, services and apps, ranging from communications and entertainment to healthcare, security and home automation. These services and apps are delivered over multiple interlinked and integrated devices, sensors, tools and platforms. Connected, real-time, smart and contextual experiences are provided for the household inhabitants, and individuals are enabled to control and monitor the home remotely as well as within it.”

What is a Smart Home? Should it be Intelligent? Gartner then asserts that there is a migration underway from the Connected Home to the Intelligent Home: “The intelligent home learns the behaviors and preferences of people, and in some cases pets, in the home. It adapts to and anticipates their needs. It is a home that utilizes data gathered from a selection of devices and sensors around the home, but also from wearables and even connected cars. It anticipates the needs of the users in the home and responds accordingly. It is a fully autonomous home that acts on your behalf.”

What is a Smart Home? Should it be Healthy? The Consumer Technology Association (CTA) Healthy Home Survey was published in time for CES 2021, CTA fielded a survey to 1500 adults in the second half of 2020 about consumer views of personal health and wellness, including categories like communication, home security, air quality, energy management, home comfort. Of the responders, 86% expressed some concern about their home’s health. Most (63%) consumers want to improve the health of their home, but many (41%) don’t know where to start.

Should newer homes be designed with smarter tech? Today’s housing is not ‘designed for a lifetime.’ Homes were built when there were a small number of older adults in the population. But by 2030, there will be more people over age 65 than under 18. This has created unanticipated needs, building shortcomings, and initiatives like NAHB’s Certified Aging in Place to help builders and remodelers to adjust to a changing population. New homes could be designed for all ages,  connected, intelligent, and healthy, ready when the resident is for future age-related needs.

[NOTE: This is the second blog post in the series “Future of Smart Homes and Older Adults” – report to be published in December, 2021]

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Laurie, great thoughts as always. I see many companies building the AI/machine learning platform that learns behaviors and flags anomalies, using generic motion sensors. Some have chosen to integrate with more advanced hardware, like Vayyar Imaging's fall detection. This takes the offering from "reactive with a delay" to "reactive in real time."

Some are trying to be predictive, but I think you are spot on with your suggestion of pushing proactive suggestions.

After all, if I had a choice between immediately finding out my mom fell so we could react quickly or my mom not falling at all as a result of proactive measures, I would take the latter!

Ultimately, I believe that's where the real power will be—although the senior's adoption (and continued compliance) of the suggestions will then become the hurdle.