New age of sci-fi homes al­lows older gen­er­a­tion to stay put

To­mor­row’s world could be brighter for older peo­ple who want to live in­de­pen­dently. Sharon Dale re­ports

Yorkshire Post - Property - - PROPERTY NEWS -

THE OF­FICE for Na­tional Sta­tis­tics pre­dicts that 29.5 per cent of the pop­u­la­tion will be over 60 by 2039 and one in 12 will be aged 80 or over. Many in that de­mo­graphic are won­der­ing what sort of re­tire­ment awaits them.

The lack of ap­pro­pri­ate prop­erty is a ma­jor is­sue now and the In­ter­na­tional Longevity Cen­tre pre­dicts that by 2030 there will be a short­age of 160,000 homes suit­able for older peo­ple and by 2050, the gap could grow to 376,000.

Still, there is good news thanks to new tech­nol­ogy that could help peo­ple live in­de­pen­dently for longer.

A re­port com­mis­sioned by re­tire­ment prop­erty builder Mc­Carthy & Stone re­veals how gad­gets and “al­most hu­man” de­vices could soon trans­form the lives of to­mor­row’s se­nior cit­i­zens.

Neigh­bour­hoods of the Fu­ture was com­piled by the Agile

Age­ing Al­liance, a cam­paign­ing so­cial busi­ness com­mit­ted to ac­cel­er­at­ing devel­op­ment of in­no­va­tions that im­prove health and well­be­ing in later life.

It con­cludes that within the next 20 years, older peo­ple are likely to be liv­ing in a “cog­ni­tive home able to as­sess and man­age in­di­vid­ual needs and de­sires.” It also pre­dicts that we will have ac­cess to power suits, ro­botic as­sis­tants, self-stock­ing fridges, in­tu­itive health­care and vir­tual GPs.

Tracey McDer­mott, Chief In­for­ma­tion Of­fi­cer at Mc­Carthy & Stone, says the com­pany is analysing the study for ideas on what it could in­cor­po­rate into its de­vel­op­ments.

Ian Spero, founder of the Agile Age­ing Al­liance, adds: “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 that will en­able our older selves to en­joy more mean­ing­ful, healthy and cre­ative lives.”

Here are some of the other ad­vances we may be able to look for­ward to, ac­cord­ing to the Neigh­bour­hood of the Fu­ture re­port:

The home that wel­comes, up­dates and warns you: When we en­ter our smarter houses and apart­ments of the fu­ture, we’ll ex­pect an up­date on what’s going on in our home and we’ll be able to share it with those who help us, should we need to. Our fridge will talk to us and tell us when we are about to run out of in­gre­di­ents. It will also send the shop­ping list to the on­line su­per­mar­ket, if we want it to. A fall de­tec­tion floor in your home will send an alarm sig­nal to a des­ig­nated carer if you take a tum­ble.

Keep­ing agile and do­mes­tic sup­port: We could be wear­ing as­sis­tive body­suits and ex­oskele­tons that will re­move the strain of un­der­tak­ing tasks. Per­son­alised ro­bots could be pro­grammed to do do­mes­tic tasks, like the clean­ing and bed mak­ing. A ro­botic chef de­vice will pre­pare meals to any dig­i­tally-ac­quired recipe.

Our home may also fea­ture a

Soft Mov­ing Walk­way, mod­elled on the prin­ci­ple of an air­port trav­e­la­tor, will take us from room-to-room.

Help with health: Poor hear­ing, sight loss and con­di­tions such as de­men­tia will be sup­ported through sen­sory-loss tech­nolo­gies that make homes safer. They will help pre­vent is­sues, such as cook­ers be­ing left on, baths over­flow­ing or peo­ple be­com­ing con­fused about their where­abouts. A per­sonal dig­i­tal as­sis­tant may help us to self-di­ag­nose, spar­ing trips to the GP. Holor­por­ta­tion could al­low us to see, hear, and in­ter­act with oth­ers re­motely as if they are present in the same phys­i­cal space, via the use of 3D cam­eras.

New en­ergy: The re­port ex­plores how build­ings, con­structed with a pre­in­stalled tech­ni­cal mem­brane, could gen­er­ate en­ergy. Tech­nol­ogy will be able to sense the room tem­per­a­ture, pres­sure and light­ing and ad­just it ac­cord­ingly. We may not need our TV or tablets as pro­grammes could be beamed di­rectly onto our reti­nas or through spe­cial glasses

Co-liv­ing: Good in­clu­sive de­sign will help to cre­ate flex­i­ble spa­ces that can be adapted in the event that adult chil­dren need to care for frail par­ents.

FU­TURE THINK­ING: The re­tire­ment prop­erty of the fu­ture could ex­tend in­de­pen­dent liv­ing with smart home tech­nol­ogy.

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