A 2019 survey found that there were over 15 million smart homes in Britain. Of those polled, fifty-seven per cent of homes owned some sort of smart device and forty-five per cent had every intention of making their home even smarter. While Alexa and Siri are now both household names, automation technology is working its way into all our home appliances. So how will this technology impact our homes in the near future?

Lock and (no) key

Keys can now be replaced with smart locks or fingerprint scanners. An apartment complex in Moscow is using face recognition to allow residents' entry to the building. The system automatically selects a resident’s floor when they enter the lift and keeps tabs on cars and pedestrians leaving the complex. Yale, one of the most recognisable manufacturers in the industry, already have a range of keyless locks available. They emphasise flexibility by allowing users to configure, control and unlock their door from their smartphone via an app. You can also send virtual keys to family and friends and keep track of who comes and goes.

Lightbulb moment

Energy saving is not only crucial for our pockets but also for our planet. For all the times you have accidentally forgotten to switch off the lights before leaving for work or found the TV blaring long after the kids have gone outside, AI has the answer. Home automation systems can reduce energy consumption and carbon footprints by controlling smart thermostats, smart plugs, and automated lighting sensors. It can recognise when the room is not being used and adjust the energy outflow accordingly. Furthermore, these systems are now advanced enough to detect when you are on your way home (by use of the GPS system in your car or smartphone) and can proceed to alter the lighting/temperature to your liking, so it's already in place for your arrival.

Chill out

Samsung and LG have produced a range of fridge freezers enabled with AI-enhanced cameras, which can scan the refrigerator's contents and suggest recipes based on what you have in stock. They allow users to remotely view the inside of their fridge on their smartphone, send users a shopping list of ingredients to stock up on and provide updates on items that have been recently added or are in low supply. They can also alert if an unusual increase in temperature is detected, if the water filter needs replacing or if the fridge door is left open.

At the moment, achieving a fully operating smart home would require investment in individual appliances, but developments continue on creating consolidated systems. In 2018 Swedish housebuilders Trivselhus developed several smart homes in Milton Keynes. Each house is equipped with Apple HomeKit technology, which can be controlled on a room-by-room basis and tailored to the residents’ needs. A scene called “Good Morning” ensures a bedroom light comes on, the blinds open, the towel rail heats up and the kettle is switched on, and conversely “Night Time” locks the doors and windows and turns off the lights. Each house benefits from Trivselhus' Climate Shield® system: sustainably sourced raw materials, triple glazing which promises to trap natural heat gain, a bespoke ventilation and heat recovery system and airtight joints.

In December last year, tech giants Apple, Google and Amazon announced they were coming together to create 'Project Connected Home over IP', a new independent working group with the aim of enabling communication across smart home devices, mobile apps, and cloud services within everyday homes.  They will also be joined by the Zigbee Alliance, whose board members include IKEA, Samsung SmartThings and Signify.

Such high-profile competitors opting to join forces indicates an increasing industry awareness of smart home technology and how it is set to evolve over the next few years.

Today's new buyers have grown up in a connected world and are more environmentally conscious. By embracing smart technology housebuilders have an opportunity to stand out, boasting long term economic and environmental benefits for each property and enabling them to place a premium on the price in exchange for years of future savings. As technology continues to shape both the way we live and the space in which we do so, homeowners are likely to regard the implementation of this technology to be as important as the bricks and mortar itself.