|Europe's leading residential technology trade magazine||Subscribe|
Growing Business: Ageing in Place - The Future of Residential Custom Integration? (2/6/2011)
By Peter Aylett, CEDIA
Margins are being squeezed. Internet retailers are forcing the prices of commoditised product down. A GB£4000 video projector produces amazing image quality. I could go on, but the unfortunate trend in our industry is that margins on previously profitable hardware are being squeezed, and 'DIY' product is making it increasingly harder to charge for our expertise. Savvy companies are already starting to diversify into new vertical markets, and into services that bring in those increasingly important recurring revenues.
Regarding the latter, there are some exciting horizons ahead. Network monitoring, providing Internet and communication services, security systems, concierge services for MDUs and maintenance contracts are just a few of the possibilities. All of these though, can be seen as 'optional' and are usually products that have to be sold, rather than ones that are asked for. The new kid on the block for both high-margin installations, and a robust, often publically-funded revenue stream, is the emerging 'Ageing in Place' market.
What is Ageing in Place?
Ageing in Place is the ability to live in one's own home - wherever that might be - for as long as confidently and comfortably possible. Liveability can be extended through the incorporation of universal design principles, telecare and other assistive technologies. These technologies also span categories of communication and engagement, health and wellness, home safety and security, and learning and contribution.
Telehealth is the delivery of health-related services and information via telecommunications technologies.
Assistive (or adaptive) technology is an umbrella term that includes assistive, adaptive, and rehabilitative devices for people with disabilities and also includes the process used in selecting, locating, and using them. They promote greater independence by enabling people to perform tasks that they were formerly unable to accomplish, or had great difficulty accomplishing, by providing enhancements to, or changed methods of, interacting with the technology needed to accomplish such tasks.
There is a raft of powerful statistics that show governments beginning to plan for an increasingly ageing population in the future. The share of the population in OECD countries aged 80 years and over is expected to increase from 4% in 2010 to 9.4% in 2050 (OECD Demographic and Labour Market Database, 2010). It seems that every day a news story appears highlighting the economic problems ahead that lie with central government trying to find the additional funds to care for this population. It is globally acknowledged that the prime way of tackling this is to keep people in their own homes for as long as possible, and try and keep them out of long-term residential care homes.
This though is only part of the story of opportunities. In the UK, the current annual NHS (National Health Service) budget is around GB£120 billion and it is estimated that there are approximately 14 million people with long-term conditions that need to be managed. This is the tele-healthcare market where technology is installed into a person's home to enable remote monitoring of key health indicators and, if needed, a remote consultation with a health professional.
These are all technologies that will enable future governments to minimise their future healthcare costs, and ensure that individuals can stay living in their home well into old age.
An industry waiting to emerge
The figures back up the potential market. The technology is available and mature. Health and social care professionals understand the benefits. What is currently missing is an industry capable of delivering these integrated technologies into people's homes. It does not take a huge leap of imagination to realise that the technological change from installing home entertainment and home automation product, to designing and installing solutions for lifetime homes and assistive living, is a small one.
We already design and install integrated life-enhancing technology into the home using project management, design, installation, commissioning, aftercare and soft skills learned over many years. With the potential market for tele-healthcare, lifetime homes and assistive living sectors running into many billions of pounds, this seems like too good an opportunity for our industry not to get on board at the start of what will become a core component of our portfolios and prosperity.
This is by no means the complete picture, nor is this article a complete introduction to the potential markets and skills sets necessary to service them. Come to the 'Opportunities in Assisted Living and Tele Health Care' seminar at this year's CEDIA Home Technology Event to learn more from Paul Doyle, a recognised expert in the area, about both the technological landscape and the multitude of business opportunities available.
Peter Aylett is Director of Professional Development for CEDIA Region 1. The Custom Electronic Design and Installation Association (CEDIA) is the international trade organisation representing the home electronic systems industry.
Full details of the Home Technology Event show and seminar schedule can be found at:
| newsfeeds | subscribe
to newsletter | submit
a link |