Everything man has made is considered technology

Technologies that support and facilitate everyday life

Our everyday life today is naturally shaped by digital media. Find your way with your smartphone while traveling, read the newspaper on the couch with your tablet or watch TV programs you have missed in a station's media library with your smart TV. These possibilities of digital media use have long since arrived in the realities of people's lives. The networking of entertainment technology is only part of the digitization of everyday life.

New developments are increasingly focusing on the household and the devices that have so far been operating individually. In concrete terms, this means that more and more everyday objects are networked with one another. You can already control the smart heating using a small application on your smartphone, a so-called app. Windows can also be opened and closed remotely.

In the future, households of people in need of care will increasingly be equipped with smart technical assistance systems. The aim here is to enable sick people to live independently in their own four walls for as long as possible with the help of modern technologies.

Digitization is the key to a networked future

The mainspring of the developments described is the constantly advancing digitization. To understand this term, it can be helpful to imagine the following simplified scenario: There are many people in a room. They all speak a different language and do not understand a word of one another. Everyone lives and works to himself. If it is, communication is very difficult and possible with a great deal of effort. If you now imagine that all people in this room speak the same language, then suddenly people can exchange ideas and make contact with one another more easily, discover similarities and do tasks together. If people were now technical devices, then this would be digitization.

Example of networked entertainment technology

The digitization scenario just described can be easily understood using the example of today's living rooms. Just a few decades ago, the television, the radio, the record player or the slide projector were individual, independently functioning devices. On the basis of advancing digitization, we are now experiencing a convergence of these technologies. Pictures taken with the digital camera can long ago be viewed on the smart TV in the living room. You can also watch missed TV programs via online media libraries on your laptop or via an Internet connection on your television, if you want to. Even large record collections or well-stocked CD racks are often only of importance for nostalgic people today. Because music is increasingly played directly over the Internet via mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones with the help of so-called streaming services and transmitted to the home system, because the music collection is now digital and therefore mostly at any time and wherever there is an Internet connection there, available. If you summarize this development, you can see that various devices and media have learned through digitization to “talk” to each other and to exchange ideas.

More security through a networked home

The digitization of various devices also forms the basis for networking the household, known as the smart home. In addition to the described control options for heating, windows and shutters, the intelligent home also includes the option of monitoring the apartment using motion sensors and webcams. If a sensor registers movement even though the owner should not be at home, a warning SMS is sent. You can then use your smartphone to check what is happening at home while you are out and about and detect any break-ins. Another application is checking power consumption. An app shows how much electricity is currently being used in the household. So you can quickly see whether you have forgotten to turn off the stove.

What sounds futuristic at first has long since become reality. Many electricity providers already offer the option of controlling your own electricity consumption via an app. And in the future, the possibilities of a networked home will steadily increase.

Technical assistance systems help with independent living

It is often difficult for older people to live at home alone as the illness increases. Possible reasons for this are, for example, the risk of falls, the timely intake of medication and the inability of doctors to react in emergencies. This is where modern technical assistance solutions come in. In doing so, they pursue the goal of enabling an independent life at home for longer through technical solutions. Intelligent home emergency call systems can, for example, use movement and fall sensors to detect that an emergency is pending and inform the family accordingly or the emergency services directly. Smart medication aids remind you to take medicine, and vital signs can also be monitored with the help of intelligent technology such as heart rate monitors and communicated directly to the doctor in the event of problems.

In order to function, smart devices have to collect, store and exchange a lot of data with each other - you should be aware of this fact when using digital technology and find out how you can protect your data accordingly.

One question remains: How does this technology change people?

If you look at the advancing digitization, it is noticeable that technical changes always change people. On the one hand, this is logical because, from a purely systemic point of view, lifeworlds are subject to an adaptation process as soon as they come into contact with technology. Among other things, you have to learn how to use new technology and understand the consequences of using technology. On the other hand, technical changes also pose social questions to people. This becomes particularly clear when using technical assistance systems in the field of care, because what role do technical systems play? Will this replace interpersonal contact with technical aids or do these systems form the core of a long and as independent life as possible in your own four walls? Certainly this question cannot be answered completely, but it should be asked again and again in the context of the use of technical possibilities. Because the focus of a digitized and networked future should always be people with their needs and individual living conditions.

More on this topic can be found in the article "Between Support and Monitoring" by Dr. Read Jessica Heesen.

PDF for the lecture “The future begins now” by Florian Preßmar.