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Home wellness technology: The future of smart homes is health-focused

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A healthy life starts at home, and thanks to smart technology holistic living is easier than ever. Rather than deodorizing bad kitchen smells yourself or adjusting your own light switch to the perfect evening glow, there’s now an app (and a smart sensor) for that.

Wellness real estate, or homes designed and built to promote the holistic health of their residents, is now a $134 billion market, and that’s projected to grow to $200 billion by 2022. COVID-19 has amplified the demand, as clean surfaces and filtered air are more important to many consumers than ever. Technology is also making it easier to age in place by making home health monitoring more affordable and accessible.

Learn about the rise of home wellness as an amenity and how technology can optimize home environments and save you money on homeowner’s insurance. You can also jump to our infographic for a visual guide on how at-home smart tools may help us live longer.

The rise of wellness as an amenity

A home is the largest single investment in most people’s lives. For homebuilders and architects, designing this investment with health in mind isn’t a new concept — in the U.S., it’s traced back to the early 20th century.

Back then, home wellness included large sunbathing windows, a pool for soaking and edible landscaping to promote healthy diets. From there, wellness evolved into community-focused neighborhoods centered around green spaces and fitness studios.

Today, designers are taking a more technical approach, using IoT sensors to purify the air, align your body with its circadian rhythms and track your health autonomously. Homes are even designed to ward off viruses, a feature more relevant than ever due to COVID-19.

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Home wellness features to align your natural cycles

By 2022, an average smart house will have around 500 smart devices. Some of these already aid in wellness, such as smart fridges that can be programmed to reorder healthy food and smart bathroom mats that monitor your weight and posture.

Future smart homes will enhance wellness from a central platform. Delos, a wellness real estate company, is leading the charge with its wellness intelligence platform designed to intuitively respond to the conditions in your home.

So can your smart home really help you live longer? Here are some home wellness features hitting the luxury real estate market.

Air quality sensors

The average person now spends 90% of their time indoors. This has contributed to a rise in obesity and chronic illness, as well as a rise in air pollutants. In fact, the air indoors can contain 2-5 times more air pollutants than the fresh air outside (even if you’re not having guests over).

Installing smart air purifiers in your home can clean the air and give you feedback about the changing air conditions. You can then control the air purification system in your home to optimize as you see fit and even expel odors. If you cook something smelly (like Brussels sprouts) you can deodorize your home with the touch of a button.

 

Natural light patterns

What if your home could align lighting patterns to your body’s natural cycles? You can install special lights that simulate dawn in the morning to awaken you with a rising sun. During the evening, have bulbs dim as it gets later to help you feel tired and ready for bed.

This smart lighting technology, known as circadian lighting, is one feature of the DARWIN enhanced home and it aims to improve your family’s sleep hygiene. It can also get your digestive system and hormone levels regulated.

 

Comfort-focused sleep technology

Not getting good enough sleep can have serious long-term health impacts, including weight gain and a weakened immune system. It’s also linked to premature death.

Lighting isn’t the only smart feature that can help you sleep better. Automatic blackout curtains that reduce light pollution, natural sounds that lull you to sleep and temperature-controlled rooms that get cooler as the night wears on all function together to help you get a good night’s rest.

 

Water purifiers

Consuming contaminated water can cause gastrointestinal illnesses, affect nervous or reproductive systems and lead to chronic illnesses, such as cancer. Smart water filtration improves the water quality throughout the home, reducing the risk of contamination.

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Smart technology can defend against viral threats

While the novel coronavirus feels unprecedented, this isn’t the first time mankind has faced a viral threat that caused them to reevaluate health at home.

In the late 19th century, Europeans embraced home wellness to combat plagues that wreaked havoc on their cold-climate communities. This idea of wellness would eventually make its way over to the U.S.

Infrared sensors

Bad news for kids everywhere: you can’t fake a fever with the ol’ thermometer-under-the-armpit trick in a house outfitted with infrared cameras.

These heat-detecting sensors made headlines in China, where they were used to track citizens' temperatures during COVID-19. Now, this technology could make its way to the home, allowing you to instantaneously check the body temperature of household members and track the onset of fevers.

 

UV disinfectant lights

Have you been anxiously scrubbing your countertops and door handles in the wake of COVID-19? Let your house do the work instead. UV disinfection lamps and wands can eliminate germs, bacteria, mold and viruses in seconds.

The average American home has more than 2,000 species of fungus and 7,000 species of bacteria in it, so regular cleaning is necessary and UV lights can help with the chore.

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Home health monitoring for chronic illness and aging

As we age, maintaining both health and independence can become a challenge. Smart technology is hoping to change that with at-home health monitoring. The idea is that seniors, their family members and/or medical professionals can stay on the same page about health by using sensors and other technology.

All of the information sharing is up to the homeowner’s discretion, and home health monitoring is adjustable to meet the senior’s comfort level. Here’s how it works:

Motion sensors

Falls are the leading cause of injury deaths in older adults — and one of the main things family members and doctors worry about with seniors living alone.

Medical alert systems are saving lives by sending help when a fall occurs. Traditional medical alert systems require a button to call for help, but new motion sensor technology installed in homes can detect a fall and even call for help if the senior is unable to ask for assistance.


Health monitoring systems

Age in place with the help of a centralized home health monitoring system. This IoT device can perform a multitude of tasks such as taking daily temperature, keeping track of remote therapy appointments and even walking through daily tasks like washing hands.

The technology also allows for telemonitoring of oxygen saturation, blood pressure, body temperature and respiratory biometrics, and has seen success with Dementia patients.

 

Smart pill dispensers

One in three medical prescriptions filled in the U.S. is for an elderly adult. Pills can be a lot to keep track of, and it can be extremely dangerous if the wrong amount is ingested. Now, IoT-connected devices can manage prescriptions, dispense medications and alert users when a refill is needed. The medicine cabinet does the work for seniors so they can spend time and energy doing things they love, like taking up a new quarantine hobby.

 

Assistive medical robots

Robots are here, and they’re ready to help with home health care. Artificial intelligence allows devices such as Pillo Health to provide personal care, such as answering medical questions, ordering medicine refills and contacting a medical team if needed.

These robots come with voice and facial recognition software so they can track information about a user’s health and apply that knowledge as needed.

Living in a smart home isn’t just making life easier — it’s aiming to make life longer. Home wellness technology will continue to evolve, helping families stay safe and seniors age in place for more years.

In addition to providing health benefits, smart homes help the environment by limiting energy and water waste. This helps you save on utility bills and home insurance each month, putting money back in your wallet.

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