Technology is rapidly advancing to meet consumer demand for personalisation, voice integration and a ‘connected experience’. Whilst this has resulted in some fantastic inventions, it has created a number of challenges for developers who are tasked with providing smart and forward thinking buildings and homes, including increased costs and additional time being spent on projects. Paul Hilditch, Brand Director at Systemline, discusses how manufacturers need to address the key issues of simplified installation, security and standardisation to help developers embrace this trend and fulfil their customers’ demands for a 21st Century Home.
One of the primary reasons consumers choose smart home products is because they are so convenient and accessible. However, these products may not always be simple to install, posing a big challenge for a developer working to a tight deadline and may not have the additional budget required to specifically train installers. Therefore, I believe that manufacturers are best served designing products that not only satisfy the consumer’s desire for an easy to use product, but also the developer’s need for a solution that is simple to install.
One way to achieve this is to design products that use a small number of cables and components, making them straightforward to design into the home.
Historically, technology has been standardised towards one form that everyone can use, for example, cassette to CD to digital streaming platforms. However, I believe there is currently too much competition in the smart devices market for manufacturers to properly address standardisation. Everyone is trying to out-do the other and create the perfect product for consumers.
Furthermore, I think smart technology is too eclectic in its purpose to currently be considered standardised. There is a lot of ambiguity about what a ‘smart’ device is. Some believe that every device connected to the Internet must be considered a part of the smart home. Whilst this may be true, some argue that everyday objects such as kettles could be considered smart as they automatically switch off when the water boils. In my opinion, a smart device is something that saves you money and enhances your everyday life, such as solutions that help you control your energy usage, or monitor the amount of food you have in your fridge.
We are still discovering exactly what we mean by ‘smart’ and how it can be incorporated within the home. The only way to currently address standardisation in smart technology is to ensure the products are simple to install and are user friendly.
As a result of the rise of smart technology, consumers are also becoming increasingly aware of online security. The more items that become ‘smart’, the higher the risk of a security breach. There is a fear that if hackers can access some of the most complex security systems in the world, people’s homes won’t be secure from external breaches. It is something that all producers of smart technology are working on and they must ensure all their products remain as secure as possible.
Despite these challenges, including smart devices in a project is an excellent way of adding value to a property, and we are seeing an increasing number of developers and builders looking for innovative solutions. In my opinion, a true smart home enhances your lifestyle and enjoyment of the home, and can also save you money.
The way homeowners control music and lighting, two important factors in any home, have both been revolutionised by a number of exciting products.
To conclude, whilst the smart home market is still relatively new and is yet to be completely defined, developers can embrace this trend and add true value to their projects by working closely alongside a trusted and expert manufacturer.