The Building Will See You Now: IoT and Wellness

You probably saw the headlines on the Wisconsin company that's planning on making microchip implantation an option for its employees, to facilitate access control...and paying for food on campus. Wearables, and implants, are probably going to start playing a greater role in how we interact with the built environment. In the Wisconsin microchip example, they're being used for convenience. And it's hard to loose or steal a hand, so that helps bolster facility security. But what I'm excited for is when IoT tech starts tweaking my environment to benefit my wellness.

In the September issue of Building Operating Management there's an article on human-centric lighting and one of the points the author made was that to have lighting systems that can truly support our circadian system, we'd need some sort of wearable which logs our light exposures as we move throughout our day and can talk to the lighting we're around to ensure our exposures continue on a healthy path. An ongoing research project called Swedish Healthy Home is working with just such wearable light sensors. 

Lighting is among the building systems where some pretty advanced options exist to support wellness. But what is exciting is that so many of the industries touching the built environment are currently focused on wellness, and increased research into strategies that have measurable benefits have allowed such things as the WELL Building Standard to arise. The WELL standard goes into the fine details of how specific strategies impact specific systems in the human body and support wellness. I have to wonder how the evolution in IoT, wearables (and implants) will further tweak the interaction between people and the built environment. There could be great potential for increased and more detailed data on the effects of providing easy access to filtered water, for example. Or perhaps a wearable sensor would detect a mid-afternoon slump and automatically tune the lights to provide more stimulus and the HVAC to provide more fresh air. Who knows — but the conversation on wellness in the built environment is bound to only get more interesting from here. 

If you're not already familiar with the WELL Building Standard, this Building Operating Management article gives a good overview for facility managers. 

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