Aging in place... digitally

As we look forward to the new horizons in 2007, I can’t help but realize the evolution of our world seems to not only maintain momentum but also to gather speed as each year passes. This is especially true with technology. Every time we turn the corner, something new is affecting our lives in one way or another.

I had the pleasure of attending a residential technology trade show in September 2006 where I saw two fascinating and thought-provoking keynote speakers. Both of them addressed the future of technology and time in their own special fashion with compelling messages.

One of the speakers was from the economic and futurist sector, the other from the tech world. They both fundamentally touched on the same topic: We have much to look forward to with technological evolution and that in some respect it will universally affect our lives more and more.

The following are some of their thoughts about technology and how it will impact our daily lives: escape – access to entertainment that brings us peace and enjoyment in our personal space; togetherness – the power to bring those close to you together easily and instantly; control – being able to control the environment that surrounds you for security, comfort and convenience; access – getting information that is important; love and spirituality – utilizing technology to bridge your emotional and spiritual needs through the Internet and other mediums; advancement – continuing education of both children and adults.

One of the most interesting topics touched upon during these discussions was the aging population and the potential for technology to improve one’s quality of life. The baby boomers are aging and our current senior population is living longer and hopefully healthier lives. Yet with spiraling healthcare costs, the home must become a pivotal location for health maintenance. Therefore, monitoring of our aging population’s quality of health will be accomplished through home technology.

Information gathered in the home on a regular basis will be stored and accessed through media content devices and via the Internet. Some of the following concepts could become standard and commonplace: monitoring of the individual to make certain they are up and functioning; shared medical information accessible remotely by family and medical professionals; allowing seniors the potential to live alone in their homes longer while maintaining a quality lifestyle; information about the aging senior will provide supplemental details that are lost through the memory aging process via pictures, notes and details of day-to-day schedules; simplifying daily communication needs by providing both video and teleprompting for those intimidated by incoming phone calls and communications; monitoring of basic vital body statistics such as heart rate, sleep habits, etc.

This sector of the marketplace and technology is potentially monumental and quite possibly one of the biggest opportunities for differentiation in providing technology in the home. This is just another reason to keep technology on your radar as you develop your strategies for your future design/build clients.