July 7, 2022 - I was recently asked to contribute some quotes to a Forbes® magazine article by Jamie Gold entitled "Experts Say Wellness Design Can Help Support Teen Mental Health." While the article focused on mental health, our firm, Simplicity, has found that the average teen — being a true "digital native" — really desires a full spectrum of technology solutions in the spaces where they spend the bulk of their time.
The first priority for technology in a teenager's bedroom is — you guessed it — entertainment options. Kids want to be able to stream to their TV from their computer, cell phone, or gaming system. Many bedrooms are hardwired for network access, and we also work to ensure there is no latency with the home's Wi-Fi® network so they can carry a controller around the house and not lose interaction with their games or online services. A lot of our team members are also gamers, so they bring personal insight into these spaces when it comes to seating or the placement of devices.
Of course, e-learning has now become another big part of the conversation. During the pandemic we got called back to a lot of our client's homes to help them add easy, one-touch functionality into their systems to enable eLearning spaces or home office spaces. We were able to use their existing Crestron Home® systems to enable new scenes or "quick actions" that say "Meeting" or "School" and when these buttons were pressed, the TV would be on the correct input, the shades would lower to reduce screen glare, and the student would be ready to go. It really was about clients being able to bring their own device into a room, press a button, and then be ready to start a meeting or e-learning session. We found that clients wanted to be able to go back and forth between their home media environment and quickly do a Microsoft Teams or Zoom meeting on the same device. With the addition of soundbars (with built-in cameras) and using tech solutions like the Crestron Airmedia® wireless presentation system, we were able to make it easy for our clients to get this dual use out of their spaces.
Health and Wellness Solutions
At this point in time our health-related technology in teen bedrooms typically involves fine-tuning the use of climate and lighting control. As a parent, I've thought about the automation across my home that we could implement in bedrooms specifically to help our kids gradually wake up and begin getting ready for school. I personally love starting the morning with the lights slowly turning on and shades coming up, so we've applied that to our kids' rooms. It's a bit more delicate than yelling to the kids that they need to get going.
We include peace of mind for mom and dad as part of our wellness tech solutions, too: We do field a great many requests for parental control. It's evolved far beyond the early days of parental controlled internet browsers — now parents are looking for ways to monitor the time their kids spend online, and to limit certain kinds of content.
Parental controls continue to be a moving target because kids are constantly looking for work arounds. There are tons of videos on YouTube that offer kids tips on how to defeat these controls. With a full home automation system like those offered by Crestron, it's much more difficult for kids to bypass parental controls. We set up user profiles on the home automation system and each profile has a certain level of control access to the home, and a profile on the Wi-Fi network that enable parents to control their kid's access to the internet. Those profiles can also run on a schedule with a system like the Crestron Home® OS so parents don't have to actively think about it. We are definitely seeing a trend of parents limiting their kids' time with technology and needing to safeguard against less-than-desirable internet interactions.
And there's another aspect of our work that should help parents breathe easier: Our company won't put anything in a client's home that we have not tested ourselves.
Tech for Special Needs
I have a 15-year-old son with autism, so naturally, finding systems and devices that improve his quality of life is a mission close to my heart. I am constantly looking at how technology can make life easier for him to communicate, get through the house, and be safe — and we are always looking for ways to make this system easy to use since his fine motor skills are an area of struggle. Two-way communication throughout the house is tremendously important, whether that occurs via an intercom or video conferencing options. Access control is another must: There's a need to be able to intercept people at the door easily via an app, or to let guests or healthcare providers in and out of the home. There is no easier way then to combine that functionality with an easy-to-use interface fully integrated into the home.
We just finished a project for a family with a daughter with a genome issue. She communicates through sign language — but she still often misunderstands things. Two-way communication has put her folks at ease, as they can communicate with her using video streams to any TV display or mobile device in the home. Beyond communication, security systems, locks and alarms with notifications, and lighting are also important considerations for these types of systems.
With a Crestron Home system we're able to set up voice control for folks that may not be as ambulatory, set up notifications and control access to areas of the home, ensure there is proper lighting when needed, and keep a secure environment via automation (or with minimum effort). Meeting special needs and home support continues to be a growing part of our business — and one that we are really passionate about.
By: Joe Acree, Founder - Simplicity