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Smart Homes - The Future of Efficiency

Rising energy costs and concerns over the impact of energy consumption on climate change has meant that there is a rapidly growing market for energy efficient systems and energy saving solutions within our home. Whilst there has been a slow increase in the number of products and services in the smart home market, the 20-20-20 targets to reduce the EU's energy efficiency by 20% means that there is likely to be a huge increase in products and services available to the everyday consumer.

Although it is impossible to predict exactly what products will be available when, we can make well educated guesses based on current technology in what changes we think will be coming to our dumb homes in the near future.

Technology within the home

Homes will be printable
3D printing is one of the biggest things to come out of the 21st century due to its ability to be applied to nearly all sectors, and construction is one of them. There are currently companies working on the commercial technique to build 3D printed buildings by using a concrete printing robot to build layers of concrete which make up the property structures, and companies such as FACIT are using the technology to produce flat-packed homes which are then easily assembled into physical buildings.

As this technology is refined, we expect more and more buildings to be produced via 3D printing due to the low time, reduced cost and increased energy efficiency needed to make quality homes as and when desired.

We'll no longer need keys
Rather than using traditional keys to open locks, we'll have smart locks fitted onto our homes which can be opened by approved smartphones. This means no more juggling your shopping to find your keys – simply have your phone on your person and your lock will automatically open. This technology allows you to connect more than one phone, meaning your well trusted friend can be given a 'key' – no more getting up to let them in or out. There are already smart locks out there, like the August Smart Lock, but we expect to see more availability and features in the nearby future.

Our homes will be automated
Although home automotive technology has already started to come into play, we're expecting to see a huge increase in the amount of products available. Currently, smart thermometers such as Nest are gaining storm for their ability to monitor behaviour and use this to build up a pattern on which to control the heating to, i.e. the heating turns on ready for when you normally wake up, switches off when you leave and then turns back on ready for when you arrive home after work, reducing unnecessary waste in energy.

Nest have just announced they will be releasing more appliances that coordinate with their smart thermometer, and this is just the beginning. iPhone's HomeKit will allow users to control all their coordinated technology via their phones and tablets, Samsung's SmartThings has the scope to allow people to control their major appliances like ovens from their phone, and it is expected that eventually the whole house will be controlled via one coordinated system, allowing individual units to work together to make your life easier. Imagine coming home after a long days work, the heating coming on, the bath running and the oven preheating from the minute your car hits the drive. Bliss.

Homes will distinguish family from guests
Using wearable technology, it is possible that home systems will be able to authenticate the identity of each person by detecting your specific heartbeat variability and temperature, allowing personalised settings for temperature, light settings, music and so on as you enter the room, meaning you can get straight to what it is you want to do.

Overall, it's looking to be a smarter and more efficient future in our homes but the real question is when is this future? We're thinking pretty soon, with major players in the game like Apple rolling out new tech systems. In reality, all that needs building is the corresponding appliances and with it being in such high demand, we can imagine companies will be jumping on the bandwagon in no time.

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