Automating the way to better health & wellbeing

Health and wellbeing is becoming an important factor in people’s every day lives. While there are health apps that can help with this, a better solution is to let your home automation system do it for you. Amy Stoneham investigates.

Humans are more in tune to their health and wellbeing than ever before. Whether it was the pandemic that forced this drive or another factor that led to people wanting to be healthier, we are certainly more interested in our mental and physical wellbeing.

Many people use apps to track fitness, activity, nutrition, mindfulness, sleep and more. According to Statista, revenue in the digital fitness and wellbeing apps segment is projected to reach $28.93bn this year, with revenue expected to show an annual growth rate of 13.32% between 2023 and 2027, resulting in a projected market volume of $47.70bn by 2027. However, this can be overwhelming with so many different apps to choose from.

Instead, health and wellbeing can be monitored, controlled and enhanced easily in a central location using home automation. Exploring the possibilities of smart home platforms and how they can help make the home a healthy environment is an avenue that can unlock a lot of potential.

With the pandemic blurring the lines between work and home, technology can be used to help ensure a healthier work-life balance within the home. Image: Crestron Electronics

Uplifting experience

We naturally feel safer and more relaxed in our own homes which automatically helps to enhance health and mental wellbeing. But having technology in the home can further boost this, with a smart home platform programmed to tie into health goals.

As Bill Hensley, head of global marketing at RTI Controls says: “The home should be an uplifting experience every day. We spend a lot of time indoors, perhaps more than we should, so the technology in the home should be first and foremost stress reducing. And this is in a general sense, not like a sleep or stress-reduction app. By having an automation system, it can tie together those subsystems that contribute to wellbeing, such as air quality, humidity control, circadian lighting, etc.” 

Many of us don’t consider the environmental factors of our living spaces which can often have the most impact on our health and wellbeing.

“Connecting wearables into your smart home could be the next step!”

“A health-enhancing home should be one that takes care of any and all environmental factors for its occupants automatically so that occupants’ physical and mental health can be maximised,” states Matt Emberson, sales and marketing director at Faradite. “To do this, a well-designed smart home should consider factors such as lighting, air quality, temperature, humidity and acoustics.”

Expanding on this, Michael Short, senior director of residential and hospitality marketing at Crestron Electronics adds: “Health and wellbeing in the home, when considered in the context of technology and automation, refers to the use of smart devices and systems that promote physical and emotional wellness. A smart home can support wellness in several ways, including monitoring air quality, temperature, humidity, and providing customised lighting and sound systems that can improve mood and relaxation. Smart home technology can also help to reduce stress and anxiety by automating tasks around the home, managing schedules, security systems, or when away from home, keeping the house visually occupied as if someone was inside.”

He continues: “Additionally, the use of wearable technology that integrates with smart home systems can monitor vital signs and provide real-time feedback to individuals, allowing them to make informed decisions about their health and wellbeing. Connecting wearables into your smart home could be the next step!”

Creating a healthy home doesn’t have to be overly complicated. “It starts with some of the basics, like the timer on the thermostat to bring up the temperature in the home in the morning so it’s comfortable when we wake up,” Hensley points out. “That’s really nothing new or fancy. Furthermore, automating the lights to gradually brighten in the morning can help us awaken more naturally and more refreshed. Indoor air quality is important too. Automating air filtration can reduce the VOCs and toxins from paint, carpet, flooring and other common home materials, as well as the outdoor allergens we track into the home. Humidity control is often overlooked but plays a role in our wellbeing. Control is managed through programmable thermostats with multiple sensors tracking and averaging humidity throughout the home, then integrated into the home automation system.”

Simple technologies, such as sensors, can also help to save energy and thus costs, which naturally causes less stress and anxiety, as Emberson explains: “With the cost of energy what it is, a sure-fire way to increase my stress levels is to realise a light has been left on in a room all day while no one is home. A really effective way to avoid this is intelligent absence detection. At Faradite, we are huge advocates of completely automated presence detection-based lighting, but we appreciate there are some instances where it makes sense for a motion sensor to be used instead for absence detection. In these spaces, a switch is still used to turn lights on, but the motion sensor is used to monitor an unoccupied space. If the sensor detects no movement in the space for a configured time of one hour, it will switch the lights off.”

Lighting, when programmed correctly, plays a big part in health and wellbeing at home. Image: Crestron Electronics


The Covid-19 pandemic caused a shift in how people live their lives, which in turn has impacted their health and wellbeing. Forced to spend almost all their time at home, people started recognising the importance of their physical, mental and emotional health and the impact that the home environment can have on this.

“The pandemic has caused people to spend more time at home,” says Angela Larson, SVP services and customer operations at Savant. “The smart home and lighting industries have started to rethink their solutions that address these trends. As an example, if the kitchen functions as a home office by day, bright, cool, white lighting can give the space a high energy feel, as well as delivering quality task lighting. As we move towards the evening hours, the lights can automatically transition to create a warmer, dimmer mood appropriate for the transition from work to home life.”

Working from home was instated in almost every sector, blurring the lines between work and home life. “With work and personal spaces blending, people have realised the importance of creating a balance in their lives and making their homes a sanctuary that promotes wellness,” Short illustrates.

“To address these challenges, people are turning to technology and automation to support their health and wellbeing. Smart home technology offers a range of possibilities for creating a healthier and more comfortable living environment. For example, air quality sensors can detect and remove harmful pollutants, while smart lighting systems can adjust the brightness and colour temperature to promote circadian rhythm and improve sleep quality. Overall, the pandemic has accelerated the trend towards using technology and automation to support health and wellbeing at home, and this trend is likely to continue now that we move past the pandemic.”

Furthermore, according to Jason Girardier, sales manager UK, Ireland and Nordics for Snap One: “Since the pandemic, insomnia has increased with almost 23 million people in the UK suffering with sleep issues. We all know that there is a very close link between sleep and good health, so using smart home technology to improve sleep hygiene is becoming a key focus.”

He continues: “There are several ways that smart home technology can work to promote the sleep-wake circadian rhythm and to improve sleep. Settings that provide access to natural light in the morning, by controlling window treatments and limiting exposure to light at night can support our circadian rhythm and promote a restful sleeping environment and regular wake schedules.”

Air quality has become a key consideration since the pandemic too, as Casto Cañavate, marketing manager at KNX Association explains: “The pandemic has built awareness of the importance of hazard-free indoor air. This has transformed the HVAC industry to the point that the manufacturing of air-con equipment and other types are already developing new solutions to provide better indoor air quality and improved efficiency.”

He thinks this trend will grow to include commercial buildings too. “As the next step, this trend will focus the attention of specifiers of commercial buildings, widening their concept of sustainability in construction from a restricted reference to efficiency confined to cost and carbon emission containment, to a wider target which includes health, wellness and workers’ productivity.”

Presence detection can control when lights are on or off, saving energy and costs which ultimately causes less stress and anxiety. Image: Faradite

Circadian lighting

Creating a home with technology and automation offers endless possibilities for health and wellbeing. Integrators can programme systems in creative ways to discreetly monitor and automate features that will improve health, wellness and mood, often without the resident even noticing.

Larson explains: “One element of healthy living is our ability to adhere to a daily circadian cycle, otherwise known as the sleep-wake cycle. This cycle has historically relied on cues from the sun with bright/cool light during the day, warm/dim light in the evening and darkness as we sleep. As we get further away from living our lives outdoors, the sleep-wake cycle becomes disrupted by artificial lighting, potentially impacting quality of sleep, cognitive function, and overall health. As one study noted, ‘Sleep of sufficient duration, continuity, and intensity (depth) without circadian disruption is necessary to promote high levels of attention and cognitive performance during the wake period, and to prevent physiological changes that may predispose individuals to adverse health outcomes’. Smart homes that can control both artificial lighting as well as natural lighting, with automated shade control, are key to healthy living.”

The idea of subtle automations, like gradually changing the light temperature throughout the day, can do wonders to a person’s mood and energy levels.

“A well-designed lighting system can gently move through blues and whites in the morning, through to reds and oranges in the evening,” says Emberson. “We have evolved with these daily changes in colour temperature waking us and keeping us alert in the day, and then slowly dimming and moving to warmer colours into the evening to encourage melatonin release ready for sleep. With an automation system in place, users can experience this as they use the space, helping them to improve sleep, concentration and mood.”

“There are several ways that smart home technology can work to promote the sleep-wake circadian rhythm and to improve sleep.”

Expanding on this, Larson adds: “There have been tremendous innovations within the lighting industry, including LEDs that can be tuned to specific colour temperatures to help us transition naturally throughout the day. These advances, along with increased consumer awareness toward healthier living have driven lighting control and smart home manufacturers to deliver meaningful wellness solutions that automate lighting in sync with daily productivity, relaxation and healthy sleep.

“Systems have become so advanced that when the same button on a lighting keypad is pressed at 10am, the room is automatically washed with bright, cool, white light, but when the same button is pressed at 8.30pm, the room is aglow with warm lighting, perfect for transitioning to dinner hour and cosy relaxation.”

It's no wonder that a lot of health and wellbeing within the home centres around lighting and the benefits a well-designed system can bring.

“Circadian lighting is important because it impacts the circadian system, which plays a vital role in regulating many biological functions, such as sleep, hormone secretion, and metabolism,” explains Short. “Several studies have shown that exposure to blue-enriched light in the morning and avoiding blue light in the evening can help to synchronise circadian rhythms, resulting in improved sleep quality, mood, and cognitive function.

“One study found that people who were exposed to bright, blue-enriched light during the morning hours had higher levels of alertness and cognitive function than those exposed to dim, amber light. Another study found that exposure to blue-enriched light during the evening hours can disrupt circadian rhythms, leading to poor sleep quality and decreased performance during the day. Smart lighting systems can replicate natural light patterns by adjusting the colour temperature and intensity of light throughout the day. This can help to synchronise circadian rhythms and promote better sleep, alertness, and overall health.”

Savant offers a Daylight Mode feature that provides a 24-hour circadian cycle using tuneable LED fixtures. Image: Savant

Ageing in place

Staying safe and well at home is something we all want, but it can also bring huge benefits to the elderly or disabled who, without home technology, might not be able to stay in their homes as long as they would like to.

“By 2050, one in four of us will be over 65 years old,” Girardier points out. “We’re already seeing smart technology installations that are helping the elderly to live independently and safely in their own homes, and this will continue to become a focus for smart home technology manufacturers. Smart technology empowers people to create the right environment for them at any time. In the UK, around one in seven of us are neurodivergent, and one in 100 are on the autism spectrum, so providing a level of predictability with presets and sequences can create a calm and secure home for many.”

French company, ProKNX, has created an offline voice control system for smart homes that can be tailored towards elderly and disabled people to help them stay in their homes for longer by using unobtrusive monitoring, as Jens Kastensson, co-founder of ProKNX, explains: “The Aragon voice control integrates with SensFloor – a fall detection system by Future-Shape in Germany – and SkyResponse alarm handling to assist users in difficult situations. The Aragon MotionAnomaly by ProKNX can also help by detecting abnormal motion patterns, for example, if a person stays in bed for an unusually long amount of time.”

He adds: “ProKNX partners with Stories-Immobilier to offer complete solutions and products for people living alone or in need of assisted technology. Aragon voice control and SensFloor are also part of their offering. We think introducing health and wellbeing into the home opens new possibilities for specialised integrators with knowledge in the assisted living domain.”

Home control platforms such as this can also remind the resident to take medication at specific times for example, freeing up resources such as carers while keeping them safe and well.

More opportunities

By looking into how health and wellbeing can be monitored and even enhanced through a control system or smart home technology, integrators have an added string to their bow. Many manufacturers and organisations offer training or resources on how to incorporate health and wellbeing into home installations to give customers a better experience.

“Thanks to the work of experienced KNX professionals, through the integration of KNX building automation systems and HCL, the indoor lighting environment can be automated and optimised to support the health and wellbeing of occupants,” says Cañavate. “This can lead to improved sleep quality, enhanced productivity, and reduced energy consumption and costs. And, needless to say, the more services professionals offer to their customers the more business opportunities they will have.”

“Smart homes that can control both artificial lighting as well as natural lighting, with automated shade control, are key to healthy living.”

Having this extra skillset also encourages a customer to come back for upgrades and enhancements to the system, as Girardier suggests: “It’s so important that integrators introduce the smart home benefits for health and wellbeing to clients. Explaining and demonstrating the long-term positive impacts that this technology can make to their lifestyle, and to those they love, is not only going to win you a client for life, but can also lead to a greater scope of work.”

As home technology grows in demand, the consumer interest in the possibilities will also increase.

“The merging of smart home and wellness functionality represents an important aspect of the modern home and will only grown in demand,” agrees Larson. “These technologies will continue to evolve and represent an important opportunity for integrators to remain the go-to resource for advanced home technology solutions. Truly smart, healthy living includes seamless integration of lighting, shading, climate, audio, and other subsystems that equate to the most advanced smart home experience. It is this unified experience that is only available through custom integration specialists in partnership with manufacturers that are working to deliver intuitive, end-to-end ecosystems all engineered to work together.”

Main image: Systems can be programmed to feed our circadian rhythm, allowing a more natural wake up and sleep cycle. Image: Crestron Electronics

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