In a smart home, aging is fun

Georgina Laird, Aegon AM

It’s 5am and the smart alarm goes off much earlier than usual. Is it malfunctioning? No, he knows your schedule and is ready for your 8am flight today. It’s time to get up. The machine starts making the cappuccino. When you walk into a shower it turns on automatically and heats up to your preferred 37 degrees. The drone delivers an unexpected package – the drug. Health sensors in your home have detected an impending cold or flu and have automatically placed the order. The electric car is ready to drive, charged by solar cells on the roof. As you drive away, you see a flock of flying robots landing on the roof of your block; they came to routinely remove leaves blown into the gutter.

Smart homes have the answer to an aging society

Whether it’s your vision of a future utopia or dystopia, the evolution of housing is already underway, albeit at a slightly slower pace than expected. Where are we today? According to a report by Berg Insight, a company that analyzes the Internet of Things, by the end of 2021, there were a total of 53.7 million smart, connected homes in Europe. By the end of 2026, the region is projected to have around 100 million households, representing 42% market penetration.

What does “smart home” actually mean? The term can be interpreted in many different ways, but connectivity is at the heart of a smart home today. This does not mean that the world has to look like a scene from The Jetsons animated series, but rather that all the related information that is available is fully used, making our lives easier and more manageable.

A significant consequence of this development is likely to be that the proportion of caregivers available to each elderly person in need of help could be significantly reduced. There are various AgeTech household products under development that can improve the health and quality of life of older people, potentially allowing them to live safely at home longer and requiring less care. It is the convergence of the healthcare, consumer and technology sectors to produce products such as companion robots, wearables for better health monitoring and prevention, fall detection sensors and an activity feed that allows family members to check that grandmother was not less active than usual. Investment opportunities are still limited, but could this be another market for a technological breakthrough?

AgeTech applications are becoming increasingly important

The continual increase in energy bills across Europe means that energy efficiency – or lack thereof – in our homes is becoming more and more concentrated. The International Energy Agency (IEA) states that by 2040, households around the world could save $ 201 billion in electricity and gas expenditure if the world implemented the energy efficiency opportunities available today. In this context, governments must play a leading role in planning and promoting the massive infrastructure investments needed to improve energy efficiency and reduce household dependence on fossil fuels.

Some of the most popular products available today are smart thermostats, energy saving light bulbs, security cameras, door locks, and pet cameras (my favorite). Most of these products are about convenience, greater safety, and better energy efficiency.

AgeTech is an interesting area of ​​smart home products. This is a new range of products intended for the elderly. The demographic shift towards an aging population is nothing new. In 1950, about one in ten people worldwide were over 60 – by 2050 one in five people would be over 60.

Heat pumps are the new standard

The IEA emphasizes that if the net zero targets are to be achieved by 2050, no new gas boilers can be sold after 2025. Heat pumps are an example of a better, low-emission alternative. The introduction of electric heat pumps has increased slightly in recent years, albeit at a slower pace than required.

In the EU, the heat pump market is growing rapidly and already in 2020 around 1.8 million households had a heat pump installed. This resulted in an increase of 7.5 percent. compared to 2019, despite the pandemic. In 2015-2020, the average annual growth was 12%. In 2020, Germany replaced Spain as one of the top three heat pump markets. Together with France and Italy, Germany now accounted for almost half of all EU sales. On the other hand, Sweden, Estonia, Finland and Norway have the highest market penetration rates, with over 25 heat pumps sold per 1,000 households per year.

In many countries, heat pumps currently have the largest market share of any heating technology in newly built homes. For example, in the United States, the share of heat pump sales in new buildings is more than 40%. for single-family houses and reaches nearly 50 percent. for new multi-family homes. This is a step in the right direction, but progress is still needed around the world to increase the acceptance of the technology for existing buildings as well.

Leave a Comment