Voice-activated speakers, automated security gates, and state-of-the-art security cameras for the home are nothing new, but with global spending on Internet of Things technology expected to surpass £925 billion by 2023, smart homes are certainly on an upwards trajectory.
In the UK alone, 2.2 million properties now lend themselves to the status of ‘smart’, insofar as containing a central hub that’s linked to at least two devices, which monitor and/or control home attributes such as lighting, climate, appliances, and even entertainment systems.
And leading the way in the adoption of such innovative technology are those in the 25-34 year old age bracket. But while heavy-hitters such as Amazon and Google may have spearheaded the proliferation of smart home devices, there’s even more fun to be had with modern tech than a voice-activated assistant.
Here are just some of the most exciting advancements in smart technology that have emerged in recent years…
The automation of laborious, manual tasks in the home is nothing new, and the effort to minimise the time it takes to complete our at-home workload has been underway for decades – from the development of vacuum cleaners and washing machines, to self-cleaning pet litter trays, video doorbells, smart light bulbs, and more.
But with the addition of one simple plug, you can make the smallest of tasks even easier. Controlled by Siri or an integrated phone app, the plug transforms regular objects into smart technology, with the ability to schedule an activity – such as turning on the light – or activate it without leaving your seat.
Whether you’re engrossed in a television programme and don’t want to break away just yet, or are in the car on the way home and want to get ahead of chores, smart appliances enable you to take control of technology from any location.
With just a few taps on an app, you can preheat the oven, change the dial on the temperature setting, or even pause cooking altogether, as well as check how long is left before the timer alerts on the washing machine, or set your tumble dryer on a short spin to prevent it from sitting idle. If you’re connected to an assistant like Amazon Alexa, you can even voice your commands and undertake actions hands-free.
Smart parcel delivery
As straight-forward as it is to order shopping online in today’s digital climate – with everything available at the touch of a button – there’s nothing more frustrating than getting home to find a ‘sorry we missed you’ card on your doorstep.
With parcel boxes of the future, the frustrations of a missed delivery are a distant memory – and examples such as iParcelBox and Smart Parcel Box provide a smart, secure, and weatherproof solution that can be monitored and controlled from your mobile device.
Augmented home protection
With the introduction of smart home locks, even your door handle can have a brain. Replacing the deadbolt on the inside of the door, this technology exists to augment the level of protection on your property and prevent intruders from gaining entry.
As well as being able to schedule locking and unlocking to specific times and control activity from your phone or with voice command, you can also share permanent or temporary access to friends and family members – which is particularly useful when you’re away on holiday, for example. What’s more, many iterations of this product also recognise when permitted contacts are nearby, and will unlock automatically. So, no need to juggle keys in your hand when coming home from the supermarket with handfuls of shopping.
So, what’s next for smart homes?
Of course, as our properties learn more about their owners, concerns over security will increasingly come to the fore. And while resulting cyber-attacks continue to grow in sophistication, efforts to protect residents’ data will only require more care and consideration.
But that’s not all. A range of technological developments such as artificial intelligence and robotic process automation will drive smart home products well beyond what’s available to buy today too.
Technology already has the ability to automate and coordinate individual devices, but up-and-coming platforms could soon serve as the brain of the entire home - requiring little manual intervention from property owners at all. By tracking user habits and managing user preferences, smart homes could soon see automation take yet another step up in the digital landscape - think intuitively dimming the lights before bed, or starting the washing an hour before you arrive home from work. And when it comes to robots, we might see a new dimension to the vacuum cleaner or sous chef.
Whatever the future of smart homes looks like, there’s no denying that it’s an exciting time to be a homeowner. But here at Applegate, we’re curious to know - what’s your favourite tech addition to the home right now? And what would you like to see on the horizon for smart properties?