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Last edited 22 Oct 2018
Wearables and wellbeing in buildings
In October 2018, BSRIA launched a White Paper on ‘Wearables and wellbeing in buildings - the story so far’.
The general consensus emerging from the White Paper is that, while there is substantial potential for the deployment of wearables, there are also significant technical, social and legal challenges.
It is also clear that there is little evidence of any practical solutions linking wearables to HVAC or building systems in general that are already in operation, apart from in niche areas such as wearable security fobs.
The paper looks at the kinds of wearable technologies currently available and at what needs to happen to bring viable solutions to market that link wearables and building systems in a useful way.
A wearable is taken to be an article, a device or an item of clothing which can be worn by a human, or possibly carried as an implant, which has a degree of intelligence built into it and can potentially communicate with the Internet of Things (IoT), either directly or indirectly – for example, via a Bluetooth connection to a smart phone. Animals can also wear devices or carry implants which could in some cases be relevant to building management, for example, in the case of an assistance dog or guide dog.
Examples include: smart watches, which can record various metrics of the wearer’s health and behaviour, smart glasses that can provide visual imagery, smart clothing, which can provide heating, enhanced visibility or greater sensitivity, smart hearing aids and even smart jewellery, which can, for example, issue alerts to the wearer.
“At present, the practical applications of wearables are strongly focused on health and fitness, from the monitoring of basic health metrics such as exercise taken and heart rates, through to the tracking of specific and sometimes serious medical problems. There is also some overlap between health and ‘leisure’ with goals such as relaxation.
"There is growing evidence to support the common sense view that people who are healthier and happier are likely to be more productive and that this can feed into a positive financial return. There is also evidence that buildings can affect wellbeing positively or negatively both through their design and through the functionality and efficiency of the systems running to heat, cool and ventilate and light the building.
“There needs to be a means of collecting, calibrating and analysing data from a lot of different wearable devices. This immediately raises issues of consent, privacy and data security, as data relating to physical health is likely to be highly sensitive and data relating to mental states even more so. People in buildings, whether employees, customers or visitors, need a motive to share their data.
"Ironically, when it comes to emerging technology of this kind, one thing that the past has taught us is that some of the most important and far reaching applications for wearables, both inside and outside buildings, are likely to be ones that we have not even thought of yet.”
‘Wearables & wellbeing in buildings – the story so far’ White Paper published in 2018 is available (as a free copy) in combination with the purchase of additional BSRIA studies. It is a sequel to the BSRIA White Paper 'Trends towards wearables and wellbeing in buildings – a threat or opportunity for the HVAC industry?' published in 2017.
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