We are happy to share a guest blog from one of our Digital Day partner organizations, Gioia da Silva from ABB Switzerland, addressing one of the Digital Day themes: Lifestyle

They use an app to order their lunch and a smartphone to programme the heating when they’re on holidays: these aren’t “digital natives”, these are retirees. The Berners, a retired couple, give us a glimpse of their daily life in a digitally networked home.

Daniel and Marianne Berner moved into their new home at the end of 2017: a light-filled condo in a mixed-generation bonacasa-development in the canton Bern – a state-of-the-art, digitally networked, smart home.

“We love it here; we are independent and don’t need any support. But we’re thinking ahead to a time when we may no longer be able to cope with our home on our own, we’re glad to know that we can count on support,” Marianne Berner explains. The couple lives in an ideal place for this: a smart living bonacasa-development that makes it easier for older people to stay independent.

What Daniel Berner is most enthusiastic about at the moment is the smart home control system that allows him to configure the lighting, blinds and heating for the entire apartment. He demonstrates the functionalities on his smartphone: Light on, blinds down – without getting up from the sofa. “The biggest advantage of our smart home is comfort. For example, we can control each room individually – our preferred temperature in the bedroom is a few degrees lower than in the living room,” Berner explains.

Daniel Berner explains his home control system

The retired engineer believes that technology will be of great support when physical fitness declines as people age. Cranking up sun blinds on large balcony doors requires strength. Berner now does this by tapping on the screen of his smartphone. Brains instead of biceps? “Oh no, the configuration wasn’t that difficult,” says Berner modestly. He adds, however, that he noticed a certain reticence, especially among older generations. Some neighbors wouldn’t know how to configure the smart home control system with an app or a computer and would most likely shy away from this option. “That’s why it’s so user-friendly,” says Berner.

The smart home control system in the Berner apartment is a good example of smart home solutions: “Digitally networked devices and systems reduce the energy consumption of buildings, increase the comfort of residents and increase the time in which a person can live independently in their apartment,” explains Christian Ebneter, Sales Manager Building Automation at ABB Switzerland.

Used properly, smart home technology can help older people live where they feel most at home for as long as possible.