Introducing Biophilia in the Home
We’ve seen an abundance of interest this year around biophilia in the home technology space. What is it and how can we best leverage it in homes simply, reliably, and cost effectively? I’ve spent the last six months researching the latest trends and wanted to share my findings.
Biophilia refers to our innate love of being in nature. In other words, the closer we are to the natural world, the better we feel and perform. Biophilia’s definition certainly rings true for me. I’m an avid outdoorsman, cherishing mornings waking up with the sun on a campout or energizing in the solitude offered by hiking miles of rugged backcountry trails.
If we’re all better closer to nature, then how can a home better mimic a natural environment without turning it into a scene from Maurice Sendak’s Where The Wild Things Are? We all experience the world through our five senses, and I’ve approached integrating biophilia into my company’s technology integration services by focusing on each faculty – testing the products available, rejecting most of them, and offering our clients a small and carefully selected menu of solutions.
According to a 2018 study published by the International Journal of Cardiology, German researchers found that people who reported being annoyed by sounds such as the rumble of a car, construction vehicle engines, and horns in their neighborhood had a higher risk of atrial fibrillation – an irregular heartbeat that can lead to blood clots and stroke.
Numerous studies in recent years tout the benefits of getting a good night’s sleep as a key to wellness. We all use myriad methods to get our eight hours of rest, including sound machines, leaving the TV on, or jamming in earplugs. Try as we may to reinvent the wheel, it’s hard to beat the quiet murmur of the woods or slow roll of the ocean. Luckily there are a ton of great solutions out there to bring the outdoors into the bedroom, including:
Engineering firms like Steve Haas-led SH Acoustics specialize in isolating bedrooms and other key areas in the home from traffic, construction, and other stressful sounds. By focusing on noise pollution, SH Acoustics claims their solutions help clients sleep better, accomplish more in their home offices, and improve overall wellness.
HoMedics SoundSpa products deliver white noise or a variety of nature soundtracks, including Campfire, Ocean, Brook, Wind Chimes, Thunderstorm, Summer Night, Gentle Rain, or Everglades.
Existing home audio systems can do double duty by adding nature or white noise soundtracks, delivering an easy $0 biophilia add-on.
Some nature smells are great, and others are best left outside. How do we strike a balance? There are a ton of biophilic design resources showing how to best transform spaces with vegetation from edible garden walls to portable planters. Today’s solutions are a long way from the early days of Smell-O-Vision and oriented around promoting wellness and fresh ingredients on the dinner table.
Living walls are an emerging trend encompassing decorative plants to salad greens. Design ideas abound on sites like Pinterest and can be a fun way to engage the family in gardening while injecting new smells into the home reminiscent of spending time in the backyard garden.
DARWIN Air Purification by Delos claims to help filter contaminants and pollutants from the air while removing harmful toxins and pathogens. It’s part of the Delos DARWIN Home Wellness Intelligence platform, which also includes features such as circadian lighting and water filtration.
My company tries to keep things simple, encouraging our clients to brighten up their homes with plants, decent air filtration, and features like garden walls. DARWIN by Delos is still in its infancy and not a mainstay for us (yet).
I’ve noticed a huge difference between eating processed food from large fast food chains and fresher ingredients from fresh burger joints. The same holds true for tap water, and there are a variety of water filtration systems out there claiming to deliver great taste and toxin-free refreshment for consumers.
DARWIN by Delos offers water filtration, which can remove toxins and improve taste. Delos points out that our tap water can often fail to meet the Maximum Contaminant Level Goals (MCLG) set by the EPA.
Carbon filtering improves taste and eliminates bad odors. Eliminating hard water can improve appliance efficiency and prolong service life.
In a world where we cocoon ourselves away in technology, touch and contact have never been more important. Paper books, handmade furniture, and vinyl records are experiencing a renaissance. Why? It’s human nature. While many of us may be introverts, we all crave connection with each other through shared experiences. Luckily there are some easy technology recommendations which complement our standard solutions nicely.
Record players like Mobile Fidelity’s UltraDeck are experiencing a surge in demand because we like the sensory experience of handling vinyl, caring for LPs, and sharing
new (or old) albums with each other. Listening to 45s and 33s forces us away from our touchscreens and into a mode of solo or shared listening, very similar to opening a nice bottle
Products like the Lena sound sculpture from Leon Speakers incorporate sound and sculpture together in a way that begs for human interaction. Each soundscape is designed around the client’s vision, yielding a result which teases touch, vision, and hearing simultaneously.
Last but not least, light is our biggest area of opportunity for biophilic design in the home. Fixture and control manufacturers are clamoring to claim the high ground around wellness.
Colorbeam’s LED lighting solutions can produce millions of colors, including a mode designed to mimic a complete sunrise-to-sunset day bathed in natural light.
Lutron’s Ketra Natural Light technology mimics the properties of sunlight and can be combined with their ability to time lighting from dawn until dusk, especially useful in rooms where there isn’t much available sunlight.
Darwin Circadian Lighting by Delos promises to improve hormone balance, appetite, sleep, energy, and productivity by mirroring natural light patterns throughout the day. Their lighting, water filtration, and air quality systems all work together to form a platform oriented around improving sleep to boost wellness.
While it’s still early days with biophilia inside the home technology world, it’s encouraging to see so many emerging players, and we look forward to refining our offerings for the five senses as more solutions become available.