Fifteen years ago we had one television in the front room, a telephone socket in the hallway and internet access in the home was still dial-up. Roll on to 2016 and house phones are superseded by smartphones and superfast broadband to the home is vital to support the numerous internet-connected devices we all own. Count how many internet connected televisions, music streaming devices, printers, games consoles, security devices, smart heating controllers, smartphones, tablets and laptops you have. At the last count I had seventeen connected devices in my home.
A new guide released this month by the NHBC Foundation in association with the Custom Electronic Design and Installation Association (CEDIA) highlights how home technology is changing many aspects of our everyday lives. Architects and house builders need to provide essential infrastructure into homes, to enable us to start living in more connected homes. We cannot rely on a freebie wireless router to provide a reliable WiFi signal to support all the homes devices, all of the time. As CEDIA members we know the importance of getting the infrastructure of homes right so home owners have a more connected future.
The report defines the connected or ‘smart’ home as ‘one in which electrical devices are potentially connected to each other and are often connected to the internet too’. Key components of the smart home are a home network, good broadband connection and devices that communicate across the network to support the needs of the residents. The smart home can benefit the home owner’s lifestyle, whether it is something as simple as streaming music around their home, or as important as helping an elderly relative to live at home independently for longer.
According to marketing agency Raconteur, the penetration of ‘smart home’ technology is set to rise from 11% in 2015 to 27% by 2020. Home designers and builders have a duty to ensure that homes built today should meet this growing demand. It doesn't need to be complicated or costly; the installation of several ‘smart’ outlets in a home can reap rewards for residents now and in the future. The growing demand for the ‘smart home’ also offers home builders the opportunity to add value to their properties and drive demand, by installing a simple and secure wired network along with internet connected devices such as smart thermostats, smoke detectors and video door bells.
What are the barriers preventing home builders from building smarter homes? Price is the most common opposition and complicated to operate isn't far behind. When I tell self builders and renovators that the wiring needed to be future ready costs as little as £500 for a three bedroom home the price barrier disappears. Then, when you demonstrate control of a multi-room music system or smart thermostat using a well designed app on their smartphone, their complications turns into complete understanding.