Mal Fisher, CTO at AWE examines how the smart home has evolved towards the mainstream.
Home automation is no longer reserved as luxury technology for high-end installations. Connected homes have become much more accessible, with the likes of Ferrari-red turntables and automated wine cellars making way for functionality that supports our everyday lives.
While we can attribute some of the advancements in residential automation to the new challenges of recent years, we can’t ignore the DIY market for its contribution to demand. DIY control solutions have become so accessible and cheap, that you’d be hard pushed to visit a home without a voice-controlled consumer device in it these days. Wonderful for us.
This opens our services to a broader audience, familiar with the promised convenience of control but frustrated with its limitations. The result is that it’s easier for installers to sell in the benefits of professionally integrated and intuitively controlled automation with the advantages it offers in terms of entertainment, comfort, security and energy savings.
The marriage of light commercial and residential automation
The biggest evolution in recent times is the improved interoperability between systems, devices, applications and services. The necessity for people to work from home, and the subsequent trend for hybrid working, often results in significant improvements to a home’s networked infrastructure, which coincidentally allows us to deliver robust home automation. We now have a great foundation to work with, capable of supporting the integration of residential and light commercial technologies. Those previously rigid boundaries between each market are less defined, and this shows no sign of slowing down as enterprise and collaboration solutions are developed to support remote workers in the home.
For installers, it’s important to be aware of the intersection of work/home and keep up to date on training in this area.
Energy and remote management
Strangely enough, there’s a sharply rising trend for solutions involving energy management and efficiency in our homes. Instead of the focus on AV devices, installers are making the most of integrating systems that can ‘read’ the weather, window states and client presence in order to adjust HVAC output to the right levels to ensure the most comfortable temperature at home.
With URC Total Control, for example, the homeowner can monitor and manage subsystems from user interfaces in the home – remote controls, touch screens – and via an app on their smart devices. Users can also select pre-programmed household modes, including seasonal temperature scenes, with one-touch to manage their home and save energy when they are away.
A market of potential – the final word
While the smart home market is booming, it’s my view that automation is currently under-represented in the assisted living sector. Taking automation back to basics, it is here to make life better for people in their homes, so there is a wealth of possibilities for improving the quality of life for millions of people.
As an industry, we could be giving more focus to this untapped sector. It’s a big market for residential automation and with the capabilities that today’s smart technology present, there is great potential here. We could be providing more education to further develop the industry in this sector, interacting better with healthcare and assisted living providers. Together, we could also give more kudos and visibility to projects within this sector.