Wellness technology is an emerging field designed to help people improve both mental and physical health. It’s gaining attention across various industries because employers have learned that a healthy workforce, especially for a work-at-home staff, is key to success. Here are ways that wellness technology can be integrated into smart homes to enhance the quality of home and business life.
Rise of Wellness Devices
Research firm McKinsey & Company reported recently that the global wellness industry is now worth over $1.5 trillion. The industry was escalating at a rapid pace even before the pandemic made the public more conscious of health issues. Now people are using wellness technology such as fitness trackers, Wi-Fi connected air purifiers and exercise bikes to monitor their health at home, where many people have worked during the pandemic.
Indoor sensors can measure air quality while smart bulbs provide comfortable lighting. Various health-monitoring devices have been introduced by the medical industry in recent years to help people track heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperatures. Other sensors can detect contaminants in the environment and alert homeowners of their presence through an app.
Some of the other devices that help promote a clean and healthy environment include water purifiers, comfort-enhancing sleep devices and smart lighting systems that align lighting with the body’s natural patterns. Another stunning development is infrared sensors can be used to track fevers within a household as well as body temperatures.
Since falls have been a leading cause of death among seniors, scientists have developed motion sensors for detecting falls. These sensors can send alerts to medical professionals when a victim is unable to call for help. The data from tracking devices is useful because it can be combined with treatments such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). A CBT specialist typically works with patients on a personal level to help them overcome mental or behavioral problems.
The Arrival of Medical Robots
Artificial intelligence is one of the keys to connecting wellness with digital monitoring. AI continues to develop steadily in the form of machine learning software and physical robots. While human-like robots may still be decades away, today’s robots can act as medical assistants by answering patient questions and sending them alerts about their health.
Robots equipped with voice and facial recognition software have the ability to communicate with specific individuals about their fitness. These are important features for protecting patient privacy. Another advantage to IoT-connected robots is they can draw from a wealth of medical resources to provide medical advice. They are also capable of ordering medicine and interacting with medical professionals.
The Tech Revolution in Sleep Health
Sleep loss and related disorders are part of the discussion on wellness in the workplace. At one time, getting minimal sleep was associated with success if you spent all night working on projects to boost your career. But now there’s a growing understanding that overworking and lack of sleep are barriers to wellness. So employers are increasingly encouraging employees to get an appropriate amount of sleep. People are more energetic and motivated when they’ve had sufficient rest.
One of the reasons employers have become more aware of sleep disorders is because research has shown that sleep loss cuts into workplace productivity and company revenue. Scientists have also learned that sleep loss is linked to anxiety and depression, as well as more serious health conditions such as type 2 diabetes, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease.
Costs of Sleep Loss
Employers are particularly concerned with the fact that sleep loss impacts cognitive abilities that are necessary to perform focused work. In the United States alone, sleep loss adds up to a loss of 10 million working hours per year. The cost to businesses is about $400 billion a year nationally. This deficiency is large enough to get the attention of firms that consult large organizations, which has helped spread the word about solutions such as sleep technology.
Solutions to Sleep Loss
There are ways to correct sleep loss naturally, but technology can help, especially when individuals have trouble getting to sleep on their own. Some of the natural methods include sticking with a regular waking and sleeping schedule, exercising in the morning, and staying away from or minimizing food and drinks that reduce energy. It’s also helpful to eliminate your exposure to blue light from screens for an hour before going to sleep.
As far as wellness technology for countering sleep loss, one of the key solutions includes wearables that monitor sleep and deliver data to a physician. Wearables are particularly helpful to seniors and contribute to large-scale studies on how sleep relates to health including cardiovascular issues. Scientists are just beginning to draw parallels between sleep patterns and health issues and need to conduct more repeated studies before drawing definite conclusions.
How Businesses Benefit from Sleep-Tech Ecosystems
McKinsey & Company has found from its research that a sleep-tech ecosystem benefits multiple entities at once. It helps employers who want to invest in the health and well-being of their employees. Digital health information can further be helpful to insurance companies that offer interventions for their clients when well-being is threatened.
The sleep-tech industry can compile extensive data on which wearable devices are most effective in the cause of better sleep. Software developers can work to improve clinical experiences and health monitoring with user-friendly apps. In the field of wellness, there’s a growing need to explore solutions such as CBT apps and meditation apps more deeply.
New Opportunities for Wellness-Related Industries
The focus on wellness opens up further opportunities for pharmaceutical and med-tech companies to work on producing better wellness medications and treatments. Wearables can produce a wealth of data about a patient that can become powerful information to pharma developers. But patients must be aware of how the data is used, as privacy concerns are growing just as fast as digital technology.
Balancing Wearables with Therapy
Sleep trackers are useful in documenting sleep patterns, but interventions to sleep disorders often require a therapist and medical-grade diagnostics. Patients also prefer personalized relationships with physicians, so going all-digital without human contact is probably not appropriate for the entire population. An ideal model for wellness therapy is a hybrid solution that balances input from wearables and therapists.
Now that wellness is becoming a mainstream topic in business and society, more and more devices are being developed to promote wellness. These devices can be integrated with smart home infrastructure and have proven to be viable solutions for creating safer and more comfortable conditions in the home. Consider investing in wellness technology that connects with your smartphone to help gauge and enhance a healthy living space.