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Smart technology will become more predictive and more in sync with your life

Home technologies will be used to detect changes in health status at a much earlier stage

Smart technology has already improved our lives in ways that would have been unimaginable just a few years ago.

Smart technology has already improved our lives in ways that would have been unimaginable just a few years ago.

 

Smart technology has already improved our lives in ways that would have been unimaginable just a few years ago. That’s what makes predicting the future so hard.

“It’s only in 2007 that Apple launched its first iPhone, that’s not long ago yet we were all mind-blown by the idea that you could access the intrnet and email on your phone,” says Peter Wadsworth, innovations manager with BSH Home Appliances, makers of Bosch and Siemens.

“It’s only a few years since voice assistance arrived. Alexa was only launched in 2014.” Such has been the fast pace of change in smart technology in the home, that knowing what’s coming down the tracks is difficult.

“If you look back, you see that you couldn’t possibly begin to predict what will be in smart homes in 10 years. For example, who would have thought that the sum total, the entirety, of human knowledge can now fit in my pocket, that I can listen to any song, by any artist, from any time, in ultra high quality. It’s not that long ago that I can remember being amazed by not having to carry CDs around.”

Smart home concept. IoT (Internet of Things).
Smart home concept. IoT (Internet of Things).

Thanks to advances in artificial intelligence and machine learning, our smart devices are getting smarter too. “The other day I asked Google a question, and it gave me an answer which didn’t include a single one of the word I had used,” he says.

It’s not the Turing test, but it’s a clear indication of how much better the software is at intuiting meaning and predicting what you want. Which is really about all we can ourselves intuit about the future.

“My overall prediction is that the technology will become more automated, more predictive and more in sync with your life,” he said. Of one thing he is sure however. “What we will see in the next five years will be amazing.”

This will see the prediction and detection of healthcare conditions much earlier than is currently possible

It may even be transformational, particularly in the area of connected health. While research into smart home technologies for healthcare has been taking place for some time, these developments are increasingly reaching the mainstream market, according to Jonathan Synnott of the University of Ulster.

This will see the prediction and detection of healthcare conditions much earlier than is currently possible. “Often times, people will only go to the doctor once a condition has a significantly noticeable impact. Smart home technologies in the future will be used to detect changes in health status at a much earlier stage, allowing healthcare professionals to prevent these conditions from reaching a more severe level,” says Synnott.

This will maximise quality of life, reduce sick leave from the workplace and minimise healthcare costs. “Imagine Alexa being able to not only listen to what you say, but how you say it, detecting subtle changes which indicate a cold, flu, tonsillitis, or a more serious chronic condition,” he says.

Devices you interact with on a daily basis will be capable of providing clinically relevant information for your doctor. There is even talk “about the creation of a smart toilet which will analyse urine and stool samples as you go about your daily routine,” he says.

Imagine Alexa being able to not only listen to what you say, but how you say it, detecting subtle changes which indicate a cold, flu, tonsillitis, or a more serious chronic condition
Imagine Alexa being able to not only listen to what you say, but how you say it, detecting subtle changes which indicate a cold, flu, tonsillitis, or a more serious chronic condition

“All of these devices will become more seamless, requiring less interaction from the user, and only intervening when intervention is required.”

While these developments refer to changes in health over time, we will also see more technologies that are capable of generating real-time alerts for issues such as seizures and falls, “providing reassurance to people who may suffer from these but live alone,” he says.

Patient empowerment will continue to grow as an area of focus. “This involves informing people of their current health status, and informing them of how their choices - such as food intake, sedentary behaviour, alcohol or lack of sleep - is actively affecting their health,” says Synnott.

The feedback generated will be tailored directly to the individual. “This will allow people to further ‘self-manage’ conditions through more informed choices. Such technologies will also provide positive reinforcement and reassurance, by highlighting how follow a rehabilitation program for an injury, or adhering to long-term medication, has actually improved their condition over the past series of months.”

Smart technologies of all kinds will move mainstream and prices will fall, he predicts. “So far, most smart home technologies have focused on convenience and energy efficiency, and most IoT enabled devices are rather expensive devices which are kept and used for many years.

Wireless charging throughout the home will become a standard

Samsung have said all of their products will be intelligent and IoT ready by 2020. I see these smart capabilities being made available in a much wider range of items, with more competitive pricing,” he says.

Wireless charging throughout the home will become a standard, for example.” We are already moving away from needing to plug devices in, however current mainstream wireless charging approaches require your device to be set in a very specific location. I see household-wide wireless charging becoming a reality in the not too distant future,” says Synnott.

A key development area will be better integration of devices from different manufacturers, through shared standards and cross compatibility.

Currently, a smart device from one manufacturer may not be able to communicate with a smart device from another, he believes this will no longer be the case.

Again, this has the potential to transform healthcare, he feels. “The saying ‘the whole is greater than the sum of its parts’ can be true in this area, as the use of many sensors can paint an overall picture of trends in the environment.”