There’s a reason people clamor for the corner office or a condo with scenic views. A pane of glass may separate the inside of the building from the world outside, but occupants still benefit from having a visual connection to nature. Seeing and feeling sunlight streaming through the windows of a building boosts energy and productivity levels, relieves stress, strengthens the immune system and promotes better sleep, among other benefits.
But what about our other senses like hearing and touching? How do the elements within a building influence them? More importantly, what types of smart technology can enhance the effect they have on our health and well-being? Here are five innovative technologies impacting how we perceive and apply sight, sound, and touch within smart buildings to achieve greater comfort, convenience, enjoyment, and health.
Automation and Artificial Intelligence
There’s no better way to reduce the spread of germs than to minimize touch. In a smart building, this can be accomplished by automating certain functions rather than requiring employees, residents, or visitors to manipulate them manually.
Touchless forms of access control are paving the way in terms of automation and have become increasingly prevalent during the pandemic. Biometrics through facial recognition and key cards have provided a convenient, efficient, touch-free means of entry into and throughout buildings. Gaining traction, however, are mobile access control systems, which allow entry via a customizable app on each user’s smartphone.
According to a survey by HID, 54% of businesses have or will upgrade to an app-based access control system to provide a smarter, more sanitary environment. Automation folds in perfectly with this up-and-coming type of access control. Based on credentials associated with each user’s mobile app, certain lights within a building can activate, motorized window shades open, and security and environmental sensors turn on or off.
Even fewer touches are required as the capabilities of the mobile app expand and as automation and artificial intelligence (AI) are added. These same adjustments to the building environment can now also happen based on the time of day, occupancy and other pre-determined conditions. By layering in artificial intelligence, the system learns over time the ideal temperature, lighting, and volume settings and adjusts them automatically for greater comfort and convenience.
Ambient Light Rejecting Screens and QLED/OLED Displays
Sunlight has been established as a key ingredient to better health. Unfortunately, the same natural light that makes us feel great can throw a bothersome glare onto display screens. The obvious solution, shading the windows, unfortunately, defeats the whole purpose of leaving the windows exposed. Here’s where QLED and OLED TVs and ambient light rejecting projection screens can help. Featuring advanced optical properties that combat sunlight, they bring the best of both worlds to conference rooms, hotel lobbies, campus lecture halls, luxury apartment units and other smart building environments: bright, clear images on displays and healthy doses of sunshine at the same time.
Acoustical Treatments and Sound Masking Systems
The sense of hearing has a direct correlation to health. Too much noise can be distracting, affecting mood and productivity. The same also happens with settings that are too quiet. A happy audible medium is key to feeling your best, and technologies like acoustical treatments and sound masking systems can achieve a pleasing acoustical balance.
The two technologies become even more important as design trends lean toward large, open spaces laden with hard surfaces where sound reflects and travels. Acoustical treatments, which can be applied inside or on the surface of walls and ceilings effectively absorb noise, making it less noticeable.
Conversely, sound masking systems inject a barely detectable “pink noise” to mitigate overwhelming silence and to block the transmission of verbal conversations. This makes spaces within a building feel more comfortable and ensures privacy.
Sensible Technologies Tackle Unhealthy Conditions
The way our surroundings impact our sense of touch, sight, touch influences how we feel overall. If the environment is uncomfortably loud and dark, for example, we tend to feel depressed and unmotivated. If we’re required to touch things that could harbor germs, we feel unsafe. These feelings can be mitigated in smart buildings by a variety of proven technologies that not only enhance our well-being but lend greater efficiency and convenience.