‘Smart Home’ is a phrase that has increased in circulation in the last few years. It is now dawning on the general public what it could mean in terms of our everyday lives. According to the Digital Market Outlook, the number of Smart Homes in the market worldwide is expected to be 481.9 million in 2025. Many households globally already contain a smart speaker that is used for music, weather and other basic uses and the global smart home market revenue was forecast to reach a value of more than 141 billion U.S. dollars by 2023. Whether we realise it or want it, smart homes are becoming a reality.
A smart home is one where interconnected devices and home appliances are linked to save time, energy and money. They include smart hubs, locks, doorbells, lawnmowers, pet feeders, thermostats and more, the list is ever growing. In the future, your alarm will wake you at your lightest phase of sleep, the shower will be at your preferred temperature ready for when you step in, the car is charged by the solar panels on your roof ready for your commute, a health sensor in your bedroom may detect flu and pre-order medicine for you, and a sensor in your fridge may detect the milk is running low and add it to your food delivery, all without your input.
The smart home sector was already growing pre-Covid-19 for energy saving, sustainability and financial reasons, but now more than ever, consumers are spending more time at home investing in upgrading their homes for security and convenience. Understandable also is the growing fear of viruses and bacteria etc due to the pandemic. Consumers are showing a want for devices such as smart locks and doorbells, which will reduce face-to-face interaction as well as avoiding touching surfaces and devices where possible.
Health in the smart home can be monitored by wireless sensing technology embedded in the walls that monitor breathing and heart rate. This could benefit every individual, specifically the elderly or perhaps sleeping babies. Going forward, monitoring the residents temperature for a fever, for example in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic, or for symptoms of different illnesses that may be present in the future, would be extremely useful as the resident would not have to go to a doctors practice or testing center. This rules out unnecessary travel and interactions with other citizens therefore preventing the spread of illnesses.
The global pandemic has increased the amount of time we are spending at home, therefore people are looking increasingly at ways to streamline their home life with gadgets, as well as staying connected with other people from a distance. One hurdle that this industry must overcome to continue moving forward is device incompatibility. It is also becoming obvious that people may prefer self set-up and installation of devices so as to reduce the number of trades people entering the home, perhaps getting around this issue with the professional offering a virtual walk through instead.
There is no question that not far from now we will be living in smart homes, they will be Integrated into our lives, whether it is an active choice or not. Technology used to be an afterthought building a house, now it is integral at the planning stage of a building. New builds will be constructed with connectivity in mind so that devices can be integrated at the future owners’ wish, leading to a more streamlined and efficient home.