What does connected living really mean?

Connected living is the new buzzword that lays at the intersection of the tech, construction, architecture and design industries. It seems as though just about any direction one looks at, the term is thrown out, capitalised on, made bold and finished with a touch of bright colours. But what does connected living really mean and why do we need this movement in our lives?

Making our environments smarter (a lot smarter) is in part an important component of connected living. This can be seen in Amazon’s voice assistant Alexa, or Nest’s machine learning. Both adapt to an individual’s habits and ultimately begins to assist us in the way we live within our infrastructure. While these examples are without a doubt representative of some of the ways in which our tools and our homes can be smarter, they represent only a fraction of what the connected living movement is capable of; a fetus version of the future that awaits us, if you may.

What if Alexa could not only play the song we request, but know what song we’d like to play before we even say or even think it, based on your habits, the time of the day and the mood we are in? In much the same way, what if Nest could not only control the temperatures in our homes according to the individuals’ usual set schedules but in relation to what our body needs for that time of the day?

First and foremost, connected living starts with real-life data; with information that is fed into our machines, which can turn the wheel around. Our cities, our homes and our workplaces have always dictated how we inhabit them – what the connected living revolution strives for is that with the creation of tools that collect useful and intricate data based on human being’s needs, we can create environments that are entirely built around us.

As reported on by The Verge, “Research firm Gartner has predicted that by 2022, personal devices will know more about an individual’s emotional state than their own friends and family, thanks to artificial intelligence.” Agreed, there is something uncanny about that prediction – yet at the same time, as long as data continues to be treated sensitively and collected wisely, without breach of privacy or hoarding of unnecessary information about an individual, data could be our saviour.

Cities are becoming increasingly congested with inhabitants. At the same time, human beings have never been this unwell. Mental health is on the rise, so are allergies and chronic illnesses, thus it is up to those building our future to make sure they address some of the driving factors behind this. Clean air, natural light and well-balanced work and life lifestyles might seem to belong inside a corporate office's afternoon meditation session, but these factors are monumental for the future of our wellbeing. The recent Velux campaign to raise awareness of the health risks facing “the indoor generation” is but a validation that it is time the structures and devices that surround us also reflect us. We have the technology to do this, now we just need the will.