In a recent research study, 'Fast Forward to Digital Care', conducted by Appello, some 86% of housing providers and builders said that digital and internet-connected technology was critical to the future success of their business. Using connected devices to augment the lifestyles of retirees and support their health and social care will make a difference to quality of living. Appello believes that smart devices, which support mobility, social inclusion and independence, will become as indispensable as inbuilt appliances are today. We’re entering the golden years for the IoT.
The retirement housing market is still in significant supply shortage. Figures from the University of Reading suggest that 2% of current housing stock in the UK is purpose-built retirement property. 2016 research from Knight Frank, however, shows that around 25% of over-55s said they wanted to move into some sort of retirement housing in the future.
The IoT is going to enable house-builders and investors to produce competitive offerings to support this market demand. In fact, 65% of those Appello spoke with in its Digital Care report suggested that the improved customer benefits from going digital were one of the key reasons they were looking into digital and the IoT.
What’s going to drive the change?
In short, a high-speed internet connection will, within a relatively short space of time, be a utility that’s expected by people of all ages, including the post-60s. In purpose-built new homes, including retirement living communities, apartments and even care homes, superfast broadband will be pre-available, installed and part of the package.
The IoT will then be enabled, and can layer smart devices on top of the connection, to attract buyers to developments by demonstrating life-supporting and enhancing features.
Appello’s top five IoT developments to watch
Appello is developing IoT capable services and solutions for its retirement living customers. Here are its top five technologies it believes are going to bring these golden years of the IoT to life for post-60s residential developments:
The personal monitoring device: Fitbits, Jawbones and Apple Watches and all similar smart devices can be worn more comfortably and discretely by older adults than care bracelets and alarms. These wristbands can collect vital health data, such as heart rate and number of steps completed, which can be gathered and monitored as part of a healthcare support package.
The white goods with smart capabilities: the IoT makes many headlines by promising smart ovens that cook the perfect dinner for your return from work. However, a more immediate and practical application would be to enable the fridge, oven or microwave to carry sensors which record their use. Opened fridge doors suggest food is being prepared and eaten, a water jug emptying suggests a person is drinking. A toilet flush sensor suggests that a person is using the bathroom. When monitoring many long-term health conditions, this information can prove vital, and monitoring in this fashion negates the need for invasive visits and embarrassing questions.
Improved customer experience: stepping up from the ability to ‘pull a cord and know that help is on its way’, the IoT will focus more on social inclusion and the creation of community. This would feature the construction of apps such as a Facebook-style social tool, available via reliable digital access. Door access and calling for assistance would be delivered via video interaction rather than speakerphone, increasing social interaction and the personal experience.
The smart TV experience: just as at many luxury hotels, your stay is navigable, and activities bookable through your in-room television, the TV becomes a community access point in the retirement property. Group activities can be booked, meal plans viewed, video chats with family and friends enabled and property repairs booked with a video call to your service provider. A person to talk to face-to-face, via your television screen, becomes 24/7 accessible, and normal.
The digital smart key: house keys will become intelligent key cards, which contain community currency, secure entry to communal rooms and facilities, and are swiped at meal times, or for access to essential medication so that, for example, a diabetic can be remotely monitored. The cards collect data which can be analysed by the care and healthcare providers to monitor where necessary. All the information on the card is stored centrally to ensure security and manage possible loss of the physical card.
For a businesses to remain competitive, adapting to technology innovation is a logical path. For those designing and building retirement living property, and properties to last a lifetime, it’s going to become an essential path. The Internet of Things’ golden years are on the next page of the calendar.