Kevin Alderson, UK Sales and Marketing Director at Tunstall explores the concept of the Connected Home and the possibilities for technology enabled care services.
When I moved home several years ago one of my major priorities was to have a comfortable place to watch football. As a married man with two daughters the votes on whether to watch Leeds United or Strictly didn’t often go in my favour. So when we viewed a new build house which offered flood wiring (basically lots of sockets all over the house for power and data connections) I immediately saw the potential to create a ‘man cave’ with my very own Sky connection. Result!
Unbeknown to me, the house specification would also offer other technological benefits, such as Sonos music streaming, which weren’t even a selling point at the time but that now we can’t imagine living without. Since we moved in, the devices connected to the fabric of the house have also advanced significantly. Back in those days we were still watching live TV, rather than streaming Netflix – can you imagine!
I’ve been thinking more about technology in my house lately as it seems almost everywhere I go I’m hearing about the Connected Home. If you haven’t encountered the concept already, it’s a networked home which receives services such as entertainment, home automation, healthcare and education over superfast broadband. I’m also hearing about the Internet of Things; basically enabling devices to connect with the internet and each other all the time. This could be anything from home appliances to cars or even factory machinery and the idea is that it will make our world more intelligent – e.g. depending on the weather your central heating will automatically turn on as you approach home in your connected car.
The Connected Home is already happening. It’s relatively easy to control your lighting or central heating from your mobile phone with systems like Hive, and many of us have in-vehicle satellite navigation. Broadband is becoming ever faster and more available, hardware costs are falling and consumers are evermore technically savvy.
So far so good. But there are barriers too. Over 30% of homes in the UK do not currently have a broadband connection. There are also implications for privacy and security.
These are all issues that Tunstall is considering as we support our customers on the journey to the digital nirvana. Solutions like Communicall Vi IP and AHM (Active Health Management) demonstrate just how far we’ve come from the original warden call systems. Importantly, these are products which resonate with our customers; Communicall Vi IP is already being installed in developments by retirement housing providers such as Pegasus and McCarthy and Stone’s luxury brand, Ortus. These organisations see the value in building for the future, ensuring the very fabric of their developments surrounds people with care and control from the day they move in and long into the future. Even if, like me, they’re not even aware of how the capabilities of their home could benefit them straight away!
The Connected Home won’t happen overnight; we’ll see an incremental shift towards adoption as we have with other advances such as wearables like FitBit. There’s a mass of different technologies out there, and navigating through this to create their own Connected Home is beyond the scope of most people at the moment. However, as a business, each day Tunstall is understanding more about how all the elements fit together and how we can best position ourselves to lead the change in terms of health and care.
It’s a very exciting time to be part of the Tunstall team; the potential for the future is immense and it feels as though we are on the brink of an amazing new era. If only the same could be said for Leeds United.