Smart Homes of the Future
Remember that brilliant feeling the first time you get your hands on a piece of new technology that you’ve been coveting? So exciting, isn’t it?
Back before DVD players we were astonished that something other than a VHS would be able to play our favourite films - that huge hunk of metal that made an unsettling whining noise every time it rewound anything. This new shiny disc replaced it all.
That’s how we felt when we used the TV remote control for the first time. And the microwave. And the Sony Walkman. And let’s not forget the hole-in-the-wall ATM cash machines.
We thought that was good and now we’re paying for stuff with our phones and hardly need cash at all thanks to contactless technology!
Remember how impressed we were the first time we had a car with a self-closing boot, and wipers that came on as soon as a drop of rain hit the windscreen?
Seems silly to mention them these days with all the amazing innovations that we’re all witnessing but at the time, this was clever stuff, impressive stuff and we wanted it.
Although we learned to take these developments for granted after the briefest of exposures to them, there’s no denying that many of them represented the cutting edge technologies of their time and few would have predicted their arrival.
True, not all of them proved to be game-changers but many subsequent innovations have turned out that way: the mobile phone, SatNav, PCs, MacBooks, tablets...
Smart home technology
So what are the latest developments that are reigniting that sense of wonder within us? High up there on the list has to be the ‘Smart Home’ revolution.
Is revolution too strong a word for it? It’s true that the technology to exercise remote control over some of the functions in our homes has been around for some time. They were something of a novelty with real promise and great intentions.
The big difference is the extent to which these new technologies are being adopted in mainstream housebuilding by some of the UK’s more enlightened and progressive developers.
At one time, it may have been just about the novelty value. Not any more. These days smart homes are as much about energy efficiency and security as they are about convenience - and homebuyers want it all.
According to a new research report from Berg Insight, the number of smart homes in Europe and North America reached 30.3 million in 2016. North America is the world’s most advanced smart home market and the region had an installed base of 21.8 million smart homes at the end of the year, a 47% year-on-year growth.
The strong market growth is expected to last for years to come, driving the number of smart homes in North America to 73.0 million by 2021 - 55% of all households.
The European market is still a few years behind in terms of market maturity.
At the end of 2016, there were 8.5 million smart homes in Europe and the market is forecasted to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 57% in the next five years to reach 80.6 million smart homes by 2021 - 36% of all European households.
The most successful products on the smart home technology market include smart thermostats, security systems, smart light bulbs, network cameras and multi-room audio systems.
What is a smart home?
According to one definition, it’s a building equipped with network-connected products connected via Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or similar protocols for controlling, automating and optimising domestic functions - everything from room temperature to lighting and much more besides.
Smart homes that obey your every word may sound like something from the future but this way of intelligent living is fast becoming a reality and at one development in Milton Keynes, that’s precisely what’s happening.
Here a simple Siri voice command unlocks the door. Once inside, the owner just ‘tells’ the house they’re home and it responds with heating turned up, lights switched on and blinds shut without anyone lifting a finger.
And what might come after that – a simple voice command that runs the bath?
How to make a smart home
As a leading homebuilder, we at Beech Developments are currently developing what are believed to be amongst the first ‘smart’ apartments in North Wales. The Sycamores consists of 12, three-bedroomed luxury apartments in Colwyn Bay.
Each apartment has access to built in Wi-Fi and smart home control module allowing residents to take control of their home remotely with the touch of a portable device screen.
From the portable devices, which are supplied with every apartment, residents can create mood scenes with the lighting in the main living spaces. Fancy a movie night with perfectly dimmed lighting or a party with the perfectly lit atmosphere? You can set individual mood scenes to suit yourself. The tablet will also control your integrated music system too.
The video intercom access control system can be controlled remotely from a smartphone and the tablet as can the heating.
Data networking points are situated throughout for future expansion of the smart home technology.
It’s remarkable how fast these new smart technologies are being rolled out and there’s no doubt that homebuyers will be expecting many of these smart features as standard – and not such at the ultra-high end of the market.
No developer worth his salt can afford not to incorporate this technology in any new build projects from now on. It’s time to act smart or get left in the dark ages.