Technology has become so ingrained in our everyday lives, that often we’re not even aware we’re using it. In this article, Roof Maker looks at the rising popularity of the “smart home” including the history, its current features and what we can expect in the future.
The Origins of Smart Homes
The beginnings of home automation has its roots in the early 20th century with the introduction of home appliances. Whilst they may not be seen as smart now, at the time they were at the cutting edge of technology. The invention of engine-powered hoovers, washing machines and toasters drastically changed the lives of many people in the UK.
A “smart home” is defined as a home that “incorporates advanced automation systems to provide the inhabitants with sophisticated monitoring and control over the building’s functions.” Our idea of today’s smart technology is miles away from what would have been imagined in the past.
One thing is for sure: smart homes are here to stay and they are only going to get more sophisticated. Below are just some features that are currently found in the smart homes of today.
Voice Control Systems
Amazon Echo was introduced to UK homes in 2016, with Google Home following soon after in 2017. These Wi-Fi connected devices can play music, answer any questions you have and control other devices in your home just by listening to your requests.
From setting alarms, to switching your lights on; voice control systems have been created to make life easier. Google Home can go one step further for users by connecting with your calendar. It will remind you of upcoming events and even send you updates on your commute.
Work is currently being undertaken to better integrate Amazon, Google and Apple’s HomePod. The end-result will be a combination of their individual strengths to offer an even wider variety of features to smart homes across the UK.
It’s not just systems that make a home smart, but products too, and there has been huge investment into new technologies.
Now, you can invest in rooflights with a built-in sensor that shuts when it starts to rain, or LED lightbulbs that can mimic a sunrise and sunset. You can even buy coffee machines that you set an alarm for, meaning you can wake up to a mug of freshly-brewed coffee.
All of these digital advancements are helping to evolve smart homes across the country with demand increasing as we rely more heavily on technology.
Internet of Things (IoT)
In simple terms, IoT refers to the connection of multiple devices over the internet, allowing them to talk to us and each other.
IoT (perhaps surprisingly), isn’t new. In fact, it’s been around since 1990, when the world’s first internet-connected toaster was invented. However, technology has come a long way since then and it’s playing a big part in the rise of the smart home.
You probably already use IoT: heard of Hive? The British Gas app allows you to control your energy metre with your phone, turning your heating on and off regardless of your location.
By 2020, it’s estimated there will be up to 21 billion connected devices across the world – that’s up from 3.9 billion in 2016. Just think about what that will mean for smart homes of the future.
Already, we are seeing a jump to “smart cities” through the use of IoT. San Diego’s streetlights are equipped with sensors, which turn on when a pedestrian or car approaches resulting in a 60% reduction in energy costs.
Philadelphia has taken a similar approach to its waste management with rubbish bins equipped with sensors to alert refuse collectors when bins are ready to be collected. A reduction in petrol, maintenance and salary as a result of this technology, means over $1 million has already been saved.
To conclude, smart homes aren’t a new concept, but our definition has certainly evolved. With many major recent breakthroughs in technology, this shows no sign of stopping. Only time will tell as to what the future of smart homes will be, but it’s apparent that they will become even more popular over time.