Ask any quantity surveyor consultant and they will tell you that the concept of a modern home is changing rapidly. It is no longer only design trends that are going in and out of season, but a single continuous push towards making life at home easier and simpler for the occupants. Technology plays a crucial part in this and the birth of smart homes — but what exactly is a smart home and how will technology play a role in the future (and present) evolutions of such a dwelling?
Defining a smart home
You could already have elements of a smart home. If you wake up in the morning and ask Siri or Google Assistant what the weather is going to be for the day, then that is making your morning easier as you can continue with your routine without looking up the answer yourself. That is exactly what a smart home does — it makes life easier through technology.
There are many examples of such technology — taps and showers that monitor your water usage, smart assistants that take down your shopping lists or even air conditioning units that can be adjusted with a simple voice command. We are lucky enough to live in an age where technology is progressing so rapidly, that the current technology you are able to integrate into your daily home life is far superior to the technology that was available only ten years ago.
Basic automations and integrations
There are varying levels of integration when it comes to smart homes. We will start with the basic, consumer smart products. For example, Phillips Hue lights can be automated to turn on whenever someone arrives home and off when someone leaves. Smart assistant companions such as Amazon Echo devices or Google Nest can do more than just wake you up at a certain time — but also present breaking news for the day, the weather and even traffic conditions for your morning commute.
A more elaborate example would be a smart coffee machine, which can switch on and create your coffee at a certain time so it is ready for you by the time you reach the kitchen. These are all fairly simple automations that can be set up by purchasing the appropriate products and adjusting the settings on your smart device. Whilst these sound impressive, some people are not comfortable having such devices constantly tracking their actions.
Another thing to consider is that these products all rely on a stable internet and wi-fi connection (something that can occasionally suffer) as well as the compatibility of a smart hub. This means that you might connect your lights or television to your Amazon account, or your Apple account, for example, and that will become the hub for your smart products. For those that want to take home automation to the next step — there are more advanced options available.
Keeping your automations local with open-source platforms
On the other end of the spectrum, there are open-source platforms that take automations to the next level. These do not rely on cloud-based hubs, but instead, keep everything local. A popular open-source platform is Home Assistant. This is where you can really take things to the next level with a bit of patience and learning. Motion sensors, for example, can be purchased and placed around your house so they activate particular lights (or any compatible product, really) when triggered during certain parts of the day.
The catch with something like Home Assistant is that there is a bit of learning involved, especially if you are not very tech-savvy. However, once you get the hang of things, what you will be able to achieve is quite impressive and can go beyond what is possible with regular consumer smart products. Being open-source means that there are virtually no limitations as you yourself set the boundaries for each automation.
Depending on what you are looking to achieve in your daily routine and how you are interested in simplifying it, our quantity surveyor contractors know that either of the two aforementioned options (or options similar) will suit your lifestyle.
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