Today’s increasingly popular smart home technologies impress the neighbors and make us marvel at how far innovations have come in the last decade or so. However, these gadgets do more than just provide bragging rights and give fascination. They can also offer a much broader kind of satisfaction by improving our quality of life.
Here are three ways highly connected homes can help improve our quality of life.
They Provide More Independence for People With Disabilities
One of the most convenient things about many smart home technologies is that they let people do things in ultra-simple, quick ways. For example, instead of walking across a room to turn on a light, a person living in a highly automated home might say a phrase to illuminate an area of a house. Such user-friendly, straightforward operation is particularly advantageous to disabled individuals who might otherwise not be able to live in their homes without assistance.
An organization called Tunnels to Towers gets funding from grants and worldwide donors, then uses it to equip homes with intelligent technologies that give disabled veterans levels of independence that enable them live with dignity. So far, the group has transformed 36 dwellings around the U.S. into smart homes, thereby helping the people who bravely fought for the nation’s freedom live in maximally fulfilling ways.
Outside of the U.S., organizations are also examining the unique issues of people with disabilities. For example, in Spain the ONCE Foundation has collaborated with home automation companies to create a prototype of an intelligent, accessible home adapted to individuals with diverse needs.
They Make Life Easier for Users
From traffic jams to unexpected deadlines at work, plenty of things cause kinks in our smoothly-laid-out plans. Fortunately, the advent of smart home technologies are minimizing many other hassles through convenience. Voice-recognition speakers let people add meetings to their schedules, search for information, or even place orders for products.
These gadgets are always on and listening for these keywords, which has raised some privacy concerns. However, there are ways to minimize the possibility of problems, such as keeping the device’s software up-to-date and regularly clearing the data stores associated with it.
Smart homes can also fitted with thermostats that help people cut what they spend on utility bills by automatically adjusting to energy-saving temperatures. Moreover, some smart door locks open without keys but can restrict access to those on a list that the owner carefully created. Such solutions prevent people from having to make physical keys for dog walkers or house sitters and eliminate the frustrating scenario of losing your keys.
Not surprisingly, the latest genre of security cameras and smart doorbells for home use are also extremely feature rich. They learn to recognize familiar faces and can alert owners to strange sounds that occur when they’re away from home. Because these security systems typically include smartphone apps, people can check on their abodes from wherever they are—even while they’re on vacation.
Together, smart home technologies simplify many of the things we do every day, both by learning our habits and providing features we can use to get the most out of our time at home—whether they relate to lighting, intelligent electronics, or other aspects of living areas.
They Could Revolutionize Care of the Elderly
We all have to eventually deal with the challenges of getting older and gradually losing some of the abilities that once came naturally to us. For elderly individuals, those shifts in ability and mobility often cause resentment and depressed moods. Then, their caregivers—which may be professionals but are often family members—struggle with feelings of worry and inadequacy, especially if they can’t always stay with their loved ones due to personal obligations.
Statistics indicate that family caregivers spend over 24 hours per week providing support to relatives in need. Although smart home technologies can’t typically replace the types of assistance those devoted people give, companies are coming up with innovations that could let them know when something happens in a senior relative’s home, such as a fall.
Some companies sell smart motion sensors that connect with complementing apps, so caregivers can get real-time updates about changes in everyday activities. For example, the sensors can detect if a person walked from the bedroom to the bathroom in the middle of the night but never returned, or if the person does not start moving about a house before Noon on a particular day despite a history of usually rising by 9 a.m.
Older adults are also at high risk for feeling lonely and isolated from society—problems that smart home technology could help ease. A recent study from the University of California, San Francisco found that over 40 percent of seniors are regularly lonely.
However, emerging technology from robotics companies may very well help. For example, the ELLI-Q is an artificial intelligence-powered robot that fits on a nightstand or another prominent place in a home and suggests activities to users, urging them to socialize instead of staying consistently cooped up.
As Homes Get Smarter, People Can Become Happier Than Before
While it’s true that products and technology alone can’t elevate individuals from discontent to joyfulness, it’s clear from the examples covered above that smart homes could help users feel maximally content as they go about their lives. Expect this sector to get even more attention from companies going forward.