One way out of the current housing crisis, the most obvious one some would say, is simply to increase the housing stock with affordable new homes so that people on median incomes can afford to put down roots and set up a home of their own. There are currently many brownfield sites both inside and skirting towns and cities throughout the UK which would benefit enormously from the stimulus of having housing available to people who are currently spending up to half their income on rent. But what does this have to do with Smart Home Technology Solutions?
While this housing stock will need to be build with cost savings in mind, it will also need to have technology which will adapt as future needs change. No builder today would forego wiring or pipework on the understanding that “if anybody wants running water or electricity they can put it in themselves!” And equally builders, architects and specifiers need to start thinking about media in the same terms.
Buildings Of The Future Need To Be Future-proof
Britain has a commitment to providing superfast broadband to anyone who wants it by 2020, but it’s of limited value if it stops at the front gate and the home isn’t prepared for accepting everything that it affords.
So what should the Home Of The Future have built in to be ready for this Superfast internet revolution?
Look at most predictions for what life will be like in the future and they seem ridiculous, so instead, let’s look at what’s on the market for early adopters today which will become commonplace tomorrow.
The Power Of The Future Lies In Smart Home Technology
Everyday household appliances can be made Smart through the introduction of a Smart plug, but simply moving that intelligence into the power point itself means that every single electrical device is now operable and controllable via voice or app. Not only do you have the convenience of being in total control, you save energy too. Devices which go to standby or sleep still consume up to as much as 30% of the energy they would if they were on and in use. Smart sockets power them off completely, theoretically cutting up to a third off your electricity bill every year.
Powerline is a system of internet extenders which plug into regular domestic plugs and cure blind spots. Plug in a transmitter at one point in the circuit and nodes anywhere else on that ring will be connected to it via the cable, giving a strong, reliable signal for wireless, or a remote plug-in location without having to install any additional wiring. Today the only drawbacks are that each unit takes up a power point and only works on the circuit that the base unit is plugged into. However, there is no reason why, in the future, an entire network can’t use the extant wiring in the walls.
De-Clutter With Fewer Cables
Another development which is continuing apace, you may have heard of it, is called ‘wireless’. The term used to relate to the radio, but now it’s far more familiar as a term for how we get the internet into our phones and laptops. What we understand about wireless is that it frees us up. We can go anywhere taking our devices with us, knowing that the batteries are sufficiently charged to make them usable for a significant amount of time. So why not wireless charging? Today there are wireless charging pads, and you can even put one phone on top of another if you want to share electricity. Building cable free charging pads into the design of a house means less clutter, less chance of tripping or damaging phones, computers, or power outlets. Children and pets won’t be tempted to chew or pull on wires and it will mean the end of trying to find a cable to fit whichever device it is you’re trying to charge.
Access control panels which can be linked to burglar alarms are a common feature for anyone who has invested in intercoms and intruder prevention security systems. The control panels we’re familiar with today can easily be installed in any and all rooms, and linked to the camera covering the front door. Use it to speak directly to whoever’s calling, and if you don’t like the look of them, use the alarm feature to ward them off. If you’re going to have a Smart alarm and access control installed it makes sense to connect all these measures up to a CCTV system too. That way you can see all of the house, garden, and outbuildings such as sheds and garages from wherever you are in the house. The benefit most Smart CCTV cameras have today is a speaker and mic, so you can talk to whoever you see too. So if it’s the neighbour’s kid looking for their ball you can tell them to get off your lawn, and if it’s someone with crime on their mind you can tell them that the police are already en route.
Sounds Like A Great Idea
As well as control panels, home audio visual systems can be built into the domestic environment too. There are many practical as well as entertainment purposes they can be put to. Making announcements calling people from other rooms, listening to music or podcasts wherever you go in the house without having to take media players with you, even holding conversations with people in your contacts while moving about without having to find and use your phone, and obviously talking to Alexa or Google Home to control your myriad other connected devices.
Currently this technology all exists and can be bought online or on the high street. While it’s aimed at the early adopter today it’s uses for the elderly who wish to age in place, people with disabilities, busy parents and everybody will all become apparent in the fullness of time as we all get more and more used to Smart Home Technology. If you’re an architect, specifier, builder, developer, or are interested in how technology can be incorporated in to the modern home for practical uses, as well as entertainment then we’d love to hear from you.