Technology in the home has always been an exciting and fast-paced area of innovation. It’s widely agreed that the coming years and decades will see greater and more rapid innovation than we’ve ever seen before and the home will soon be stuffed with tech and gadgets straight from science fiction. But, just a brief look around the technology market suggests that our homes are already jam packed with technology. So do we already live in the home of the future?
Smart Technology and IoT
IoT stands for The Internet of Things, which itself refers to the various different devices and objects which are connected to each other via the internet, enabling them to communicate and collaborate with one another to, for example, set the perfect atmosphere in your living room. There are some areas of the home where IoT is making the biggest difference.
Smart lighting is already a staple of today’s most tech-savvy homes. All of the lights in your home can be connected to a central command centre (usually a smartphone app). From here, lights in different rooms can be set to turn on and off at certain times, either set by the homeowner or based on natural light levels in your home – as it gets darker, the lights will automatically turn on.
Some systems even enable the lights to be connected to the window blinds – when night falls and the lights come on, the blinds will automatically close. In the morning, as the sun comes up, the blinds will open. Not only is all of this very cool indeed, it also improves energy efficiency within the home by making sure no energy is used without purpose.
Much like your smart lighting, the modern home can be heated and cooled in a smart, efficient and automated manner.
Boilers and central heating have long featured timer-based on/off functions, but smart heating can automatically turn on and off based on the internal temperature of the house. Before long, it will be able to react to the outside temperature, too.
Different rooms can be set to reach different temperatures at certain times of day. In many commercial buildings, sensors are used to work out if anyone is using a room – if they are, the room is heated, if they’re not, it isn’t. We can expect this sort of innovation to become more and more common in the home.
All of your energy usage can now be tracked and monitored by a so-called smart meter. You’ll have seen ads all over the place for smart meters – energy companies are now promoting them as a more efficient and environmentally-friendly way of using energy. Crucially, smart meters also help reduce your monthly utilities bills.
They do all of this by utilising IoT and smart tech, but also by making it very simple to see, in real time, exactly how much energy you are using and how much it is costing before offering tips on reducing your usage.
White goods and gadgets
One of the most common features of the home of the future will be the plentiful gadgets found in each and every room.
There are already refrigerators which have cameras on the inside so that you can see what’s in there without opening the door. You can also log into the camera footage from your phone so when you’re in the supermarket, you can double check whether or not you need milk.
And if that’s still too much like hard work, you can get a fridge which actually knows when certain items are running low and automatically adds them to your online supermarket shopping list.
On the other side of the kitchen, your smart oven will soon be taking care of your meals for you. Not only do smart ovens know exactly how long something takes to cook, they can also inject extra moisture into your food to avoid that dry Christmas turkey, and then thoroughly clean itself while you crash in front of the tele.
A major focus of home technology is personal security. Today, vast amounts of innovation have already happened and the coming years will see security technology become more sophisticated and, vitally, more affordable meaning more of us can take advantage.
CCTV and alarms
Modern home security systems today make good use of small, inconspicuous cameras which, when they sense movement in the home, send an instant alert to your smartphone. The same happens if the house alarm is triggered and many systems will simultaneously alert either the police or a private security firm to come and check on your home.
Even if you’re home when people come round, it’s always useful to know who is ringing your doorbell. From checking if it’s not a family member you’re trying to avoid, or a door-to-door sales person looking to flog you some home insurance, smart bells send live video footage to your phone whenever the doorbell is ringing. Some systems even send you automatic alerts when any sort of movement is sensed outside your home which is perfect for deterring unwanted visitors when you’re not at home. And the ability to speak to whoever is there only adds to the fun, and adds to the level of security. You just speak into your smartphone wherever you are in the world and it comes blaring out of the doorbell.
Construction and materials
While everything inside the home is experiencing rapid innovation, so too is the construction of the outside.
New materials are being discovered and created which are far more eco-friendly than traditional building methods. Did you know that buildings are responsible for around 40% of the globe’s entire carbon emissions? It’s mainly because concrete is absolutely terrible for the environment.
As such, desperate efforts have long been underway to find more eco-friendly ways of building strong homes. Thankfully, many of these new materials are cheaper to produce and easier to put together than bricks and mortar which reduces the construction costs and, therefore, reduces the sale price.
Furthermore, these new materials are far more energy efficient than concrete and bricks which goes a long way towards keeping the ongoing running costs as low as possible.