If you haven't yet given in to wearable technology, you might be behind the times. Technology geeks say the time is coming when, whether awake or asleep, humans will be tied in not only to personal technology, but also to their homes and, by extension, to the entire world. Whether you think that's a good or bad idea doesn't matter much any more.
Wristbands will count your steps and your calories, monitor your heartbeat, order your groceries, adjust the lighting in your home and remind you of business appointments as well as keeping you in tour with your friends -- either real ones or the virtual kind, according to those in the know. And they will become commonplace in the near future, say those who monitor the trends.
Success in the world of homebuilding means not only acknowledging the tech trends, but gearing up to build houses that embrace them. Home automation is the key to that success, and it goes far beyond what we consider automation today.
Future Smart Home Trends
Until now, builders and homeowners have viewed smart home features in terms of security, energy savings, sustainability and convenience. It makes economic sense to automate heating and cooling, save water, reduce energy costs and consumption, and ensure that home becomes a safer, more secure environment. But the technology is evolving so fast that a "pet dog" may become the device that helps you control that environment. No matter how comforting and convenient it now is to check your locks from a remote location, or take a virtual look at your garage door and your garden gate, the home of the future may monitor those things on its own.
Through a single voice command that simply announces your departure, your automated overseer is expected to be able to lock the door behind you, close the blinds, adjust the temperature and turn on lights at dusk either in anticipation of your return or to make the home look lived in. The home hub, even if it doesn't bark or look like a dog, will be able to detect an intruder, water the rose bush and adjust the TV volume. Perhaps it will even automatically cook your favorite dinner.
Increasingly, home appliance manufacturers are adding new options: laundry systems not only sense required cycles for each load but communicate with one another, dishwashers operate only at off-peak hours, and refrigerators have the ability to survey the contents and alert you that it's time to buy milk. Tomorrow, that same fridge may send the order directly to the market and tell you when you pick it up!
What's in Your Future?
The common problem with every new smart gadget and automatic device is integration. Separate gizmos need to work together. Tech developers are working overtime to make that happen. Alexa and Siri do a lot, but they and their voice-activated cohorts like Google Assistant have limitations. With the rollout of third-party integration, Amazon pioneered new options, but there's much more to come. It's still "down the road" a bit before it's all perfected. Never doubt, though, that it will come.
The home of that bright future will require different wiring. Burgeoning new technology doesn't require as much "hard-wired" capacity as today's home, but there are different needs. Wireless connectivity still has its limitations. Anyone with a dead zone for cell phone service or handheld devices that occasionally refuse to function will testify to that frustration. There are definite wrinkles still to iron out.
At Aterra, we are attuned to lifestyle integration; and we believe we have the tools to help designers and architects, builders and buyers connect with their homes in a way that alleviates some existing shortcomings. We're still a bit unclear about the training that pet robot will require, but we're certainly interested in it!