Smart home technology and interconnected items are transforming far more than just the way we operate appliances within our homes. They are revolutionising our offices, our cities, our leisure activities and even the way we relate to the natural environment around us.

Here is an insight into the way smart home technology is changing how we live, work and play.

A smart world

Driven by sensors that can gauge an environment, and controlled by activators that can change the state of interconnected smart items within it, the smart world is rolling out at a rapid rate.

Collectively known as the Internet of Things, statistics indicate it will be an industry worth US$8.9T in 2020, up from $2.99T in 2014.

From driverless cars to smart cities and automated manufacturing, these interconnected devices are allowing us greater efficiency, and greater precision across all most all spectres of society.

At home

Since the advent of electricity, we have been finding ways to simplify our domestic lives, employing all sorts of appliances to take the legwork out of daily chores.

In many ways it was only a matter of time until we networked them to offer greater liveability and sustainability within the home.

Now the domestic realm can be controlled even from afar, with smart home sensors, activators appliances and apps offering an insight into exactly what’s occurring in the home at any given time.

This constant monitoring, and ability to change the home environment even remotely offers a new way to enjoy the home environment, and it has a host of benefits throughout the home.

Security, safety and home access

Security is a key feature many people actively seek to embrace, and the wealth of smart devices that can monitor the state of a home have allowed home security to become one of the major features of the smart home.

Extending from sensors to cameras, remote monitoring and automated alerts, smart home technology allows the constant monitoring of the home, even from afar.

Meanwhile, the same technology can recognise home occupants, granting them easier, automated access to the home. Locks can be automated for keyless entry or doors can be opened to grant guests access at the simple push of the home occupant’s smart phone button.

Lifestyle and ambience

When we imagine a truly intuitive smart home, lifestyle springs to mind, incorporating features like automated lighting, music and entire scenes that activate via voice control.

These features were once considered luxury items, but are now part of a vast array of affordable features many smart home occupants not only seek, but demand.

Environment and temperature

The smart home has the ability to ensure the temperature and feel of your home is just the way you like it, activating air-conditioning automatically, opening blinds to harness natural light or closing windows to guard against the chill.

The great outdoors

Of course, smart technology isn’t just restricted to the interior of the home, with many people drawn to automation for the additional benefit of outdoor controls. This allows them to go on holiday or rest easy in the knowledge key investments like their garden will be watered, or their pool will remain pristine.

Home monitoring and power consumption

Smart home technology allows you to keep a watchful eye on your property even from afar. It enables you to completely control your environment, including the power you consumer within it.

The office

The smart home might steal much of the media limelight, but the technology that drives it is being employed far beyond just the environment in which we live. In fact, business is also a major driver of smart technology adoption as more and more offices see the very real value of employing its features to improve the environment of productivity of the workplace.

According to a UK survey conducted in 2017 by British Land, 90 per cent of decision-makers see a business reason for working in a smart office.

The Smart Offices: A 2017 Vision for the Future study targeted over 1063 London businesses and found 87 per cent of decision makers say they’ll require smart technology in their office the next time they move.

Key features office workers are looking for include:

  • Self-adjusting lighting and window shades (53 per cent don’t have this but think it would be helpful)
  • The ability to personalise heat and light settings for one’s immediate space, and have those settings follow you around the building (53 per cent)
  • Circadian lighting systems that mimic natural daylight (51 per cent)
  • Heat and lighting systems that adjust automatically according to weather and occupancy (50 per cent)
  • Hotels

Smart tech is all about convenience, and it’s clearly a feature hotels are keen to embrace, with standard functions like automated lighting, temperature, and entertainment among the key areas most hotels are integrating first.

The smart technology allows the guest a more personalised, streamlined experience that allows them control over the major items that affect the comfort of their stay.

Combined with apps and additional services like automated check-in and smart locks, it not only offers comfort but allows the entire visit to be more efficient, with the only remote or key a patron needs now in the palm of their hand.

Meanwhile, for the hotel chain there are a host of benefits such as cost savings and greater environmental efficiency. And the likelihood is these smart features that are so readily available in the home will soon become the norm that every hotel patron also expects.

Shopping

With smart speakers and voice assistants one of the biggest tech trends of the past 18 months, it comes as little surprise there are roll-on effects. And the way we shop is one of the major areas reaping the rewards.

Statista notes one in five households with Wi-Fi access in the US now have at least one smart speaker and this adoption rate has more than doubled in just over six months. Meanwhile a report by NPR Smart Audio found 57 per cent of consumers who owned voice activated speakers used them for shopping.

According to Search Engine Land: “The survey found that 57 per cent of smart speaker owners have ordered something using the device, while a majority of them have bought something they had never purchased before (as opposed to just reordering a regularly used product).

“People aren’t spending trivial amounts of money either. Almost 25 per cent of these voice-purchasers said they spent between $100 and $199 for single purchases.”

Behind the scenes retailers are also actively embracing smart technology, with features such as Beacon marketing, Smart Fitting rooms and item tracking. And this infiltration of connected items that allows for an enhanced consumer experience is only on the rise.

Recent years have seen attention turn to virtual reality, virtual assistants and Chatbots as shopping harnesses the power of AI to better predict and service our needs.

Meanwhile research firm Zebra notes:

79 per cent of North American retailers are investing in IoT technologies such as automated inventory verification and sensors on shelves.

By 2021, nearly 80 percent of retailers will be able to customise the store visit for customers as a majority of them will know when a specific customer is in the store. This will be enabled through technology such as micro-locationing allowing retailers to capture more data, accuracy and customer insights.

Smart transport and smart cities

Driverless cars have long been the focal point of the IoT and our obsession with a Jetson’s style future.  And while advancements continue to be made, the benefits are also playing out in the wider area of smart transport as we move towards smart cities.

Venture Beat explains: “Already, automobiles built after 2010 include numerous connected systems that provide drivers with the ability to listen to satellite radio, view streaming video, display and use smartphone apps, navigate roadways, request roadside assistance, unlock doors remotely, and find open parking spaces.”

Arguing that driverless cars may be as little as 10 years away they note: “Autonomous vehicles will free the “driver” and passengers to socialize, have a business meeting, or learn more about the environment around them. Mercedes imagines a car that is more like a living room or boardroom on wheels. The driver and front passenger seats swivel to allow face-to-face communication.”

In addition, all this sensing and communication offers greater efficiency and safety for transport at large, and the operation of cities in general with State Tech Magazine citing major American cities as examples of IoT already being put to use.

“Cities like Chicago and Washington, D.C., are getting smarter as connected sensors provide timely and accurate traffic and parking data,” they say.

Not only that, smart technology and the IoT allows for automated lighting, power plant control, pollution monitoring and so much more.

Manufacturing and industry

It’s not quite as glamorous as a fridge that automatically buys milk, but manufacturing, industry and agriculture are, and will continue to be, some of the great beneficiaries of the IoT.

The Wall Street Journal notes: “Industrial IoT can dramatically change how manufacturers run their businesses. By quickly and continually pulling process and monitoring information as well as production, supplier and customer data, the technology lowers costs, increases efficiency and speeds response time.

“It also ensures equipment is fixed before it fails, further lowering costs and boosting the bottom line. The IoT’s uses are as unlimited as the types of machinery that sensors can monitor.”

Healthcare

According to Forbes by the year 2020 there will be a $117 billion market for IoT in healthcare as we better monitor ourselves and the medical profession can better monitor us.

The industry will be driven by sensors and the steady erosion between clinical health care and in-home monitoring. Already, connected devices including wearables, sensors and even communication are impacting the healthcare landscape. Devices can tell your blood pressure relaying this data to your physician, they can track your sleep patterns and more.

Tech Target further explains: “Internet-connected devices have been introduced to patients in various forms. Whether data comes from fetal monitors, electrocardiograms, temperature monitors or blood glucose levels, tracking health information is vital for some patients.

“Many of these measures require follow-up interaction with a healthcare professional. This creates an opening for smarter devices to deliver more valuable data, lessening the need for direct patient-physician interaction.”

Meanwhile some hospitals have begun introducing smart beds that can adjust to relieve a patient’s pressure points as well as indicating when they attempt to get up.

About Lera

Lera Smart Home Solutions is a leading installer of smart home technology in the greater Sydney region. Our team boasts over 20 years’ experience in IT networking, programming and the electrical industry.

We have sourced the most reliable and cost efficient solutions from around the world to provide the very best in smart home solutions, and work with our clients to understand their needs.

You can learn more about transforming your house into a smart home here, or contact usdirectly for further advice.