As long ago as ooh 2008, the idea of home improvements consisted of a new slab of paint on the living room walls or an upgrade of the fridge you bought back in 1984. Indeed, when we thought of new technology for your standard home, we thought of slow evolution across decades: so for the television, from black and white to color to satellite to digital; from the introduction of the microwave; or the addition of Wi-Fi and broadband. That though has all started to change. Like Sauron’s all-seeing eye in Lord of the Rings, in the last few years, tech giants from Google to Amazon to Apple to Samsung have turned their gaze (and ample R&D resources) towards improving your home life.
For those of you unfamiliar with the current revolution taking place in the home, let’s start with some figures: The smart home market is expected to grow to $151.4 billion by 2024, with penetration of smart home technology reaching 19.3% of homes. That is largely being fueled by the tens of thousands of new smart home products introduced each year, ranging from smart windows that display a different landscape depending on your mood to robots that clean every type of floor, to fridges which automate your weekly food shop. In no time at all, residences will look like something from – depending on your cultural taste – Blade Runner or the Jetsons.
The smart-home revolution has already begun and the giant tech companies are fighting it out, exemplified by some of the recent acquisitions: Amazon’s $1 billion purchase of Ring, a maker of smart doorbells and cameras, was followed by big-dollar takeovers of Nest (maker of smart thermostats, smoke detectors, and other products) by Google, and of SmartThings (maker of a smart-home platform) by Samsung, as well as Apple’s financial commitment to Echelon, another platform maker.
Consumer awareness that a ‘smart’ home has the potential to make their lives considerably easier, more comfortable and cost and time efficient is growing. How so? Some examples:
- Picture yourself commuting home on a hot day and the temperature is high enough to boil an egg. Instead of walking into a hot and stuffy home, you simply use your smartphone to turn your air-conditioner on so it is nice and cool when you arrive.
- Imagine that it’s date night and it’s your turn to cook dinner and you are late to get home. You can start to heat the oven before you get home, or have it adopt a bespoke temperature setting to cook that tricky lamb. Later, during dinner, you could tell Alexa, the voice assistant on Amazon Echo, to play your romantic playlist, dim the lights or even read out the Kama Sutra.
Smart home technology is also about more than convenience and flexibility – but security and safety. To give another brief, but hugely significant, example, in March 2017, USA Today wrote a story about the impact of the Ring ‘smart’ doorbell. https://eu.usatoday.com/story/tech/talkingtech/2017/03/29/crime-busting-video-doorbell-ring-expands-clones-undercut-price/99677840/
The author wrote:
”The Los Angeles Police Department did a study of two neighborhoods, one with Ring products, the other without, “and we saw a 50% reduction in burglaries in the neighborhood with the doorbell, while the other side saw no changes.” ”
So this one device, costing about 200 bucks, saw a 50% reduction in burglaries in areas that adopted it. And that’s ignoring the other smart security devices which could also increase your home safety: burglar alarms, security cameras, smart windows, and smart door locks. As touched on above, Ring has since been acquired by Amazon for a billion dollars.
There is no limit on the possibilities for your smart home. Home automation is the future.
A key element of this home revolution is the concept known as the ‘‘Internet of Things’’ (IoT). In 1999, the British scientist Kevin Ashton coined the term before anything, except computers, was actually connected to the internet. In the last two decades, Ashton challenged society to imagine a world where the internet will permeate all aspects of people’s lives.
The first and most obvious benefit to smart homes is convenience, as more connected devices can handle more operations (lighting, temperature, etc.) and free up the resident to perform other tasks. But beyond this, smart home IoT devices can help achieve other notable targets, such as the reduction of costs and conservation of energy. In our example above, you’d have a comfortable and cool apartment when you get home, but note that, in reverse, you’d be leaving that air conditioner off when you’re not home, which would lower your electricity bill and reduce energy consumption. Smart lights and various other energy-consuming devices can provide similar benefits.
In our next blog, we at Home Smartify will introduce ourselves in more detail and explain why the current method of valuing the usefulness and effectiveness of residential properties is antiquated and in need of its own revolution, something which we, in fact, provide for free