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Connected Homes June 2019 Viewpoints

Technology Analyst: Christian Feest

Connected Homes for Improved Health

Why is this topic significant?

Several developments demonstrate the potential for connected-home devices to track and provide insights into the health of residents. Use of such devices could improve health, enable early diagnosis of serious diseases, and reduce health-care costs.

Description

The connected home is becoming increasingly convenient for monitoring and improving occupants' health. For example, in April 2019, Amazon.com announced the first HIPAA- (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act 1996–) compliant skills for its Alexa smart assistant. Alexa users can now add HIPAA-compliant skills, enabling the smart assistant to transmit and receive protected health information. One such skill—Livongo—enables the user to query his or her most recent blood-sugar data and receive personalized health nudges and insights. Six HIPAA-compliant health-care skills exist currently, but Amazon has announced it intends to extend access to more developers in the near future.

Significant potential also exists to leverage household objects to gather data about users. Doing so can provide insights into the users' health state and track changes over time. For example, in 2018, Google filed a patent that describes using optical sensors to monitor and track changes in an individual's appearance to help reduce the risk of heart disease. Elsewhere, researchers at NeuraMetrix have developed a method to diagnose early symptoms of neurodegenerative diseases such as Huntington's and Alzheimer's from a keyboard-user's typing cadence. These examples demonstrate how data from household devices can provide early indications of serious diseases.

Implications

By enabling more devices to gather data about users, the connected home can enable more personalized and accurate health insights. As demand for personalized health care increases, demand for health-related smart home technologies is likely to increase too. Demand for these technologies is likely to be further compounded by the aging populations of many developed countries, such as the United States, South Korea, and Japan.

Manufacturers must overcome compatibility issues in order to capitalize on the full potential of health-related data. For example, data from a computer keyboard are unlikely alone to provide a complete view of the user's health status. However, if data from the keyboard can integrate with data from several other devices, this larger data set is likely to provide a coherent and comprehensive picture of the user's health—especially if these data are processed by machine-learning algorithms trained on data from thousands of other connected homes.

However, the personal nature of health and medical information raises potential privacy concerns for consumers. Enabling devices to access private medical information increases the possibility of headline-grabbing data breaches that may hinder adoption. Further, consumers may be wary of adopting smart-home technologies that enable such granular data gathering as to record their every move at home.

Impacts/Disruptions

The connected home has the potential to disrupt health care in several ways. Data from Internet of Things (IoT) devices could enable early diagnosis of serious diseases, such as cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer's, enabling earlier intervention and potentially halting disease progression. Such early interventions could potentially reduce health-care costs, because preventive interventions are often less costly than curative treatments. Health insurance is also likely to see effects: Not only will earlier intervention reduce health-care costs, but data from IoT devices could inform policy providers and enable more accurate risk calculation.

Scale of Impact

  • Low
  • Medium
  • High
The scale of impact for this topic is: High

Time of Impact

  • Now
  • 5 Years
  • 10 Years
  • 15 Years
The time of impact for this topic is: 5 Years to 10 Years

Opportunities in the following industry areas:

Medicine, health care, fitness, insurance

Relevant to the following Explorer Technology Areas:

Partnerships between Device Manufacturers and Construction Companies

Why is this topic significant?

Potential exists for mutually beneficial partnerships between construction companies and connected-home-device manufacturers. Examples of device manufacturers' entering the construction industry exist, and some construction companies are developing connected-home devices and applications.

Description

Samsung C&T Corporation—the construction and trading subsidiary of Samsung Group—unveiled its Raemian IoT Homelab model home in June 2018. Samsung designed the Raemian IoT Homelab to showcase the potential of current smart-home technologies. In addition to containing conventional smart-home technologies, such as smart lighting and smart speakers, the Raemian IoT Homelab contains smart curtains, a smart mirror, and smart environmental controls that include an air-filtration system. Several companies collaborated to produce devices for the model home, and all these devices integrate with a Samsung control system. Competing companies manufacture many of these devices, but users can interface with them all via Samsung's Bixby virtual assistant.

The Raemian IoT Homelab is moving beyond concept to commercialization in 2019. Samsung C&T Corporation is redeveloping an apartment complex consisting of 2,600 units in Busan, South Korea. As part of this redevelopment, owners of these apartments are able to order a smart-home retrofit that will begin in June 2019. These smart apartments will be available to live in by August 2022. As well as Samsung, several other electronics companies are becoming active in the construction industry and vice versa. For example, Hyundai Engineering and Construction is developing a voice-activated Internet of Things (IoT) platform, and LG Uplus has signed contracts with several construction companies to provide smart-home support and voice control.

Implications

Samsung is well positioned to capitalize on the intersection between construction and IoT for several reasons. Although Samsung is best known for its electronic devices, the construction arm of the Samsung Group is significant and operates worldwide. Samsung's electronics experience will add value to Samsung's construction projects, providing information about and access to smart-home devices at a reduced cost. Further, designing and constructing buildings with IoT devices in mind from the start will enable more seamless integration, improving user experience.

Impacts/Disruptions

Even though most electronics companies and most construction companies will lack many of Samsung's advantages, the intersection between construction and IoT presents opportunities nevertheless. Potential exists for mutually beneficial partnerships between the two industries. For example, construction companies can increase the attractiveness of their offerings by integrating connected-home devices and transforming ordinary homes into smart homes. Similarly, electronics companies will benefit from increased demand for their devices from new construction projects.

Partnerships with construction companies also represent a potential avenue for smart-home-device manufacturers to gain market share from competitors. By creating apartments that integrate with their devices, smart-home-device manufacturers can tie occupants into their connected-home ecosystem—potentially for life. However, forcing occupants to adopt proprietary hardware could potentially reduce the perceived value of such properties—especially on the resale market—if the integrated devices are not sufficiently future proof or if the ecosystem the devices tie into is too restrictive.

Scale of Impact

  • Low
  • Medium
  • High
The scale of impact for this topic is: Medium

Time of Impact

  • Now
  • 5 Years
  • 10 Years
  • 15 Years
The time of impact for this topic is: Now to 5 Years

Opportunities in the following industry areas:

Construction, housing, kitchen, bathroom, smart speakers, virtual assistants

Relevant to the following Explorer Technology Areas: