By Giles Sutton, SVP Product and Business Development at CEDIA
Custom integrators have long prioritized technologies that improve the human condition, especially those that offer experiences and functionalities pertaining to wellness and comfort within the home. Over the past several years, home technology and design experts have joined forces to discover pivotal wellness solutions that not only improve physical and mental wellness but also blend seamlessly into the home’s ecosystem and aesthetic.
The CEDIA channel has a unique opportunity to improve routines, safety and comfort with the dynamic and fast-growing welltech category. Heading into spring renovation season, it’s the perfect time to explore which new solutions benefit customers most. Here are some of the fastest-growing segments of healthy home technologies.
Lighting & Shading Work in Tandem
This year, we expect more homeowners to embrace smart lighting and shading for comfort, routine and mood regulation. Even as we’re transitioning away from the dark days of winter and receiving more vitamin D, regulating circadian rhythm is still an ongoing challenge for many due to fluctuating work schedules, routines and more. While smart lighting goes a long way, few connected home categories contribute to human-centric lighting more effectively than automated shades: Custom integrators can program shades to raise and lower themselves throughout the day without any manual input and integrate those scenes with existing lighting systems to maintain the perfect amount of light for any point throughout the day. These upgrades create true automation, comfort and ease: The home is illuminated appropriately at any time of day, without requiring any cues from users.
Scott Stephenson, Senior Director of Global Motorization at Hunter Douglas, shares: “Automated shading grants homeowners the ability to welcome the perfect amount of natural or outdoor light into their spaces throughout their day, helping to regulate energy levels, mood and circadian rhythm without any interruption to their routine. Once programmed, smart shades can automatically provide a gentle wake from incoming sunlight in the morning, complete darkness for blissful sleep at night, or a flexible balance of invigorating brightness and mellow mood lighting for multipurpose spaces.”
Homeowners Hear the Difference with Noise Control
Shifting from vision to hearing, we’re also seeing that environmental noise can play a significant role in residents’ wellness. The World Health Organization reports that noise is the second biggest environmental factor causing health problems after air pollution. Unwanted sounds like construction, vehicles, aircraft, nearby sound systems and crowds have been proven to disrupt sleep, increase stress and even cause hearing conditions like tinnitus.
CEDIA’s Senior Director of Technology and Standards Walt Zerbe recently shared with wellness design expert Jamie Gold that acoustic design considerations will be top of mind for many custom integrators in their wellness designs this year. The choice of materials used to build and furnish spaces significantly impacts sound absorption and compartmentalization within the home. Selecting sound-proofing furnishings and designs with ample sound absorption materials can help dampen incoming noise pollution, and many homeowners are opting for new technologies that produce little to no noticeable sound. When there’s less external noise coming in, and efforts are taken to reduce extra sound within the home, integrators can help support the spaces where environmental noise reduction matters most.
Climate Control Gets an Upgrade
Maintaining comfortable temperature and humidity is central to human comfort – and indeed, exposure to higher ambient temperatures has been associated with a reduction in emotional well-being. However, maintaining a consistent temperature throughout a building with only a handful of occupied rooms is expensive and wasteful. In recent years, we’ve seen a rise in interest in HVAC systems that can deliver precise temperature control while also addressing homeowners’ sustainability concerns. Integrators have a unique opportunity to promote thermal comfort within the home with integrations designed to optimize ventilation, humidity, temperature and indoor air quality alongside efficiency. Airzone’s CEO Antonio Mediato, who demonstrated the company’s HVAC home automation interoperability solution at CEDIA Expo 2022, stresses the importance.
“Room temperature plays a major role in comfort. While the specific temperature value varies by individual choice, humans thrive when our environment is at the preferred temperature. Today’s HVAC technology helps us get there, with smart zoning solutions that deliver heating or cooling to specific zones within our living and working spaces on demand. When such solutions are fully integrated with the leading HVAC and Home Automation system manufacturers, it’s easier to properly monitor and control the temperature and air quality within your home or office. This translates into increased efficiency, savings and comfort.”
Interoperability Remains the Heartbeat of Healthy Homes
The healthy home is multifaceted, and with cross-device interfaces and many opportunities for immersive integrations, it can be challenging for homeowners to know where to start. The custom integration market must prioritize interoperability in healthy home design. Applications that are intuitive, convenient and directly accessible via smart home infrastructure are more likely to improve users’ daily lives since they won’t cause interruption to routine.
“Many of today’s best smart home control platforms function as an all-in-one system, bringing together multiple partners and their solutions under one consistent interface,” shares Michael Short, Sr. Director of Residential and Hospitality Marketing at Crestron. “This empowers users to create routines rather than having to build their schedule around switching apps. Health routines are more relaxing, stable, and easily kept when your shading, lighting, climate and AV act in concert on your own preset scenes.”
Many integrated technologies can also react to the homeowner’s behaviors to better support and regulate routines. Some smart thermostats, for example, will learn habits over time and act on their learnings. If homeowners are regularly increasing or decreasing temperature settings from their scheduled levels at a certain time of day, the smartest thermostats will internalize that data and make those adjustments on their own moving forward. This automation creates an environment that is both more comfortable to live in and more aligned with its users’ natural routines.
As CEDIA details in The Integrator of 2027 white paper, the evolution of the connected home is thriving on hyper-personalization. The prospect of an ultra-tailored smart home is extremely promising for the welltech sector, as it projects that more homeowners will begin to identify which elements of their home can better serve their overall health. The custom integrator community is uniquely positioned to educate homeowners on the plethora of opportunities available to them. As you move into spring projects, prioritize conversations about new wellness concepts, categories, and trends and how they can best enhance the overall experience of living at home.