Earlier this week McCarthy & Stone and the Agile Ageing Alliance released a report which considers the implications of technology for the retirement living sector.
The report 'Neighbourhoods of the Future' looks at new and emerging technologies and how they may be able to assist people to live healthy and independent lives.
Some of the concepts in the report have been staples of science fiction for years. Robotic maids were featured in the Jetsons (a cartoon which has proven remarkably adept at predicting future technologies - such as smart watches and video calling) and practically every Isaac Asimov book ever written. Holographic projections have been a staple of the Star Wars franchise since Princess Leia first graced our screens in 1977.
That said, given that we already have apps and watches available that monitor heart rate, blood pressure and how many steps you take in a day, most of the report's conclusions feel both plausible and grounded in reality. It is certainly thought provoking, particularly given the almost daily headlines about the challenges facing our ageing population.
In the words of the report's authors:
“Some of the ideas covered in our report could be mistaken for science fiction, but they are all based in reality. In the words of science fiction author William Gibson: The future is already here – it’s just not very evenly distributed.“
If housing providers are willing to listen and act, we can look forward to the growth of a new breed of smarter homes in our Neighbourhoods of the Future. Enabling our older selves to enjoy more meaningful, healthy and creative lives, which will in turn facilitate life affirming opportunities for personal development and social engagement.”
Specific health-related concerns, such as the effects of dwindling hearing or sight loss, or the growth of conditions such as dementia, will be supported through ‘sensory-loss’ technologies that make homes safer, easier to manage, lighter and more adaptable. Sensitive design solutions using enabling technologies will help prevent incidents from occurring and address, for example, cookers being left on, baths overflowing or people becoming confused about their whereabouts. Our personal digital assistant may help us to self-diagnose, sparing trips to the GP, or we may be able to talk to our doctors remotely. And ‘holorportation’ may allow users to see, hear, and interact with others remotely as if both are present in the same physical space, via the use of 3D cameras.