The Home of the future

Predicting the evolution of today’s smart home.

  • The new-generation of smart homes may arrive in the next five or ten years from now.

  • Home automation and the Internet of Things will become the driving force behind adoption of smart home technologies.

  • Trends to anticipate in a new-generation smart home include better connectivity, advanced AI and more focus on security.

Picture this:

You’re slowly brought out of your sleep, alarm ringing just in time for you to perform Subuh prayers. The air-conditioning in the bedroom has already been switched off sometime ago, and the current temperature has become warm enough to rouse you further. When you step into the shower, the hot water is set at your preferred temperature, and a health analysis appears on the mirror afterwards, detailing vitamins and other food categories your body may be lacking currently.

Downstairs, the coffee machine has a cup ready to help you start the day while you swipe through the holographic displays of outfit choices in your wardrobe. A few minutes later, as you’re in the kitchen sipping coffee, you take a glance at the fridge, where a display states the groceries you’re running low on — as well as what vitamins you should be stocking up on, based on that health analysis earlier.

The “smart home”

Sounds like something out of a sci-fi movie? You might be living in this reality in perhaps the next ten years, or even sooner!

This is an idealistic scenario of what our homes may eventually evolve to, but currently, the smart home is defined as “a residence that uses Internet-connected devices to enable the remote monitoring and management of appliances and systems, such as lighting and heating”.

Essentially, it’s everyday life made smart.

Home Automation and IoT

Smart homes today have several things in common — a smart home speaker, such as a Google Alexa, which connects with a number of other products such as the computer, smartphone, television, and appliances. All of these work together in order to offer convenience to the homeowner, with functions personalised according to their needs, controlled by gestures, voice commands or with a few taps on your phone.

Interacting with your home appliances has become synonymous with the term “home automation”, with a level of control that strives to bring you ease of convenience and comfort beyond your expectations. And this is made possible thanks to the way the Internet of Things (IoT) works, through communications chips that allow those appliances to send data according to our responses and preferences.

The role of the IoT is significant in how home automation will one day be integrated into the structure of the household itself, bringing smart-home technologies to the next step where, instead of us manually sending commands to our appliances, lighting and security system, these devices actively learn about us and perceive our needs.

Here are some trends to anticipate for the new-generation smart home:

Better connectivity

We won’t just see better connectivity with the Internet over wireless devices and 5G — the way various devices will communicate and work together will eventually become more seamless as well.

For example, the security system will need to work well with the smart locks on doors, and motion sensors with smart lighting. This form of uninterrupted connectivity will push forward adoption of smart home technology.

Greater focus on security

As our homes learn more about us, that amount of information is potential high-risk data that could fall into the wrong hands. With that in mind, there will definitely be a bigger focus on securing our information for the protection of our personal data and homes.

This trend will also highly likely be one of the most rapidly developing sectors in smart home technology, going so far as to provide security for the security devices themselves, as the technologies move forward towards authentication with advanced artificial intelligence (AI) and biometrical functions.

Undeterred development of AI

Speaking of AI, the IoT system in smart homes will require even more advanced authentication to allow for more intelligent machinery, and with that, the increased use of AI technology. This will likely manifest through the way our machines will learn about our wants and needs. One probable scenario could be how an internal camera and computer in your fridge can detect the food in it, working together with health analyses from household waste to determine your optimal grocery list. Therefore, the functionality of the smart home system will be enhanced in general, and with that comes the ability to have more control over user management.

Currently, the smart home we know today gives residents a level of control over connected appliances — dimming the lights with an app, or informing the speaker to play your favourite music or YouTube playlist on the TV, for example. However, there are already appliances entering the market that will offer even greater convenience, such as a thermostat, or perhaps in the case of ever-sunny Brunei, our air-conditioning to learn the residents’ habits and automatically adjusts the temperature according to our personal preferences, while also reducing wasted energy.

An inevitable reality

At the end of the day, it is inevitable that we will live in truly smart homes in the future, beyond just owning several smart appliances.

Solar-powered electricity, more seamless connectivity over the gadgets in your home, the ability for AI usage to predict your routines and by extension, your needs on a day-to-day basis with a total immersion of IoT are merely some occurrences to look forward to in the coming days for the smart home.

Brunei has already made strides in this avenue with Fabular, the nation’s first prefabricated, compact smart home model whose units come with the pre-installation of Amazon’s Alexa, as well as DST’s ventures into smart home technologies, powered by their services.

Bah, what are you looking forward to in a smart home?