The Advancement of Wearables and Smart Homes
There are a variety of wearable health tech devices on the market besides smart watches and trackers for fitness. Smart pills can help doctors diagnose an illness, wearable mood sensors can prevent panic attacks and there are even smart bras to enhance workout performance.
Our love of gadgets and growing interest in multi-dimensional wellness is advancing biometrics, the measurement and statistical analysis of people’s physical and behavioral characteristics. The next big push may go beyond wearables into wellness smart homes.
A project in Orlando, Fla., brings state-of-the-art and emerging wellness technology together in a home of the future. Imagine waking in a room that gradually becomes light, simulating daybreak, instead of rising to a buzzing alarm. There is an interactive kitchen island that helps make healthy food choices, providing cooking videos and alerts to outdoor conditions before leaving for the day.
What sets apart the 6,000-square-foot structure, named WHIT—for Wellness, Health, Innovation and Technology—is that it is set up solely to display and test health-related technology. The community and visitors are able to experience WHIT as a living lab, while the home’s nonprofit operators collect data on the most effective wellness technology.
Innovations include biometrics for kids and adults to connect into online telemedicine resources, a home office gym with a cycle desk, and an herb garden wall in a Zen courtyard. Even the toilet has a role, collecting and assessing specimens, catching health issues early such as diabetes, assisting seniors desiring to age in place.
There are many benefits when wellness is part of a smart home design, including clean air and water, exercise, nutrition and monitoring biometrics. Emotional wellness may be addressed by making our lives more manageable through automation, with opportunities for reflection and spiritual wellness through a meditation garden. Environmental wellness is present, fostering health by creating a pleasant environment. There are many learning opportunities with new technology, stimulating intellectual wellness.
More to Come
While we are waiting for more healthy smart homes to be developed, market research firm Tractica believes that the wearable biometric tech industry that fitness trackers ushered in will explode over the next few years.
Google has developed a biometric sensing contact lens, but has yet to announce its intended application. A former Oculus and Google engineering executive is working with a startup on a wearable MRI device to affordably detect cancer, heart disease and Alzheimer’s. Wearable tattoos with a microchip are being developed to collect biometric data from your body. In addition to a cool cyborg appearance, these temporary tech tattoos are suprisingly affordable.
While technology can have a positive effect on health, gadgets and automation are not without downfalls. Smart wellness homes and wearables increase reliance on tech devices instead of interacting with people, including a doctor who may pick up on other health indicators during a physical exam. As with most new technology, equipping a wellness smart home may be initially costly, until enough consumers create demand.
With 67 significant home wellness automation startups launched last year, and hundreds entering the wearable market, the outlook is good for making our homes and gadgets more of a partner in our ongoing wellness.