The world’s population is exploding and tech offerings, such as robots, the Internet of Things (IoT), smart home systems, and energy-efficient updates will become critical to help municipalities develop their economy and infrastructure in a way that will support their societies, and lessen the strain on public services and resources.
To make the most of the opportunities, entrepreneurs and tech enterprises should keep the following in mind:
The senior market is growing – rapidly
By 2050, adults 65 and older will represent more than 17% of the global population – up from 8.5% in 2015, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The draw for this burgeoning market is the utility that smart home technology can offer seniors.The draw for this burgeoning market is the utility that smart home systems and technology can offer seniors.
A responsive living environment, for example, can help older adults live more independently, and for those with mobility challenges, live more safely. Connected devices that incorporate accessibility and a senior-centric design can help family and caregivers gain visibility, increase engagement, and ultimately, provide peace of mind.
Thuc Vu, founder and inventor of Ohmni, a telepresence robot that connects users via video calls, sees consumer robotics as the next big wave. Robots that emphasize human connection can counteract the isolation and loneliness that many seniors experience while addressing the growing scarcity of caregivers. Connected to Wi-Fi and running remotely, the robot has a screen for a head, scuttles around on wheels, and requires only limited computer knowledge in users.
“In five to seven years, as home automation becomes more mainstream, caregiving will shift,” predicts Lily Sarafan of Home Care Assistance, the firm offering the robots at 20% of the cost of hiring full-time caregivers. In its next iteration, Ohmni will pick up objects, and in five years, Dr. Vu says it will wash dishes, do laundry, and clean the house.
Since tech enterprises are not necessarily housing market pros, they seek out innovative architects and industry experts known for their breakthrough designs and familiarity with the home development industry and IoT ecosystem, says Miami businessman and entrepreneur Gideon Kimbrell. Integrating upgradable and adaptable smart home systems technology in the design phase is much easier than retrofitting, he says, and experts’ knowledge of codes and regulations in any given locale can sidestep related pitfalls.
The housing market is regulation-heavy, so consider patenting a product and then licensing it to avoid holding inventory or competing against entrenched players. Google used this approach with its IoT Core service for M2M device management. Through its subscription service approach, Utah-based Vivint Smart Home helps customers avoid incompatibility issues when adding additional services and products to their homes – which increased Vivint’s annual revenue by roughly 15%. Its packages include installation of hardware, 24/7 tech support, repair services, and seamless coordination of everything from doorbell cameras to thermostats all through a single app.
With smart home technology redefining homes and improving healthier lifestyle benefits, those entrepreneurs who get in on the action now may benefit most of all.