The future is not so far away anymore; very soon our traditional rectangular dwellings with chimneys, garden fences and garages may be replaced with something far more aerodynamic and trippy looking, like something from the Jetsons. Or maybe not?
Perhaps the fundamental things that make us ‘feel at home’ will never change: comfort, security, our ‘stuff’, and our rituals of cooking, bathing, resting and socialising. What definitely is changing, is that our homes are getting ‘smarter’; it is time to techorate.
Everything is increasingly wirelessly connected to a smart-home automation system, which allows you to integrate all of your technology and appliances into one simple system controlled from one device.
Basically all your devices talk to each other, which simplifies life so you can spend more time focused on the important things.
These systems control everything from lighting to sound, temperature, security and energy consumption. Just imagine being able to turn off all your lights with one button on your phone, or to activate your alarm, monitor your energy consumption remotely or even turn your house into ‘Green’ mode to conserve energy.
The lounge is the heart of the home and the usually the first place we start with home automation, because one remote can control everything — from the TV and music system, to the lighting and security.
Watching a movie at home has never been this much of a treat. Start the movie, dim the lights and set the temperature with the touch of one button. Automatically raise the lights to 50% when the movie is paused so you can make that quick trip to turn the kettle on.
With automated systems, you can access your security features from your mobile phone or tablet, allowing you to check your alarm and turn it on or off, lock or unlock any doors and even check the feed from a CCTV camera. You can also program your lights to mimic your usual patterns to appear as if you’re home, even when you’re not.
Motorised Curtains And Blinds
Intelligent shading and blinds keeps your house cool in summer and can save energy in winter. Motorised curtains are ideal for very high ceilings and delicate or expensive fabrics. www.trendystuff.co.za
Bring 3D technology into your home; all you need is a 3D-ready TV and Samsung 3D Glasses. The glasses contain special liquid crystal lenses, which actively lighten and darken with the 3D content.
Let’s face it, your TV isn’t generally the best looking thing in your house, so why keep it plain sight? Many forward thinking homeowners are choosing to motorise their TV sets, hiding them in the ceiling, or even in furniture. A touch of a button causes it to emerge from its storage place for use.
Samsung SMART Doorlock
No need for keys anymore! Depending on your door lock type, you can now choose to unlock your doors using pin codes, iCard/Touch Screen, fingerprint or even Remote Control. samsungsmartlock.co.za
The best thing is, that even if in your hurry to get to the airport, you forget to tell your house that you’re leaving —you can change modes from just about anywhere using your phone, tablet or laptop.
This is where automation really gets personal. It helps you to take entertaining to the next level, because your entire kitchen can pitch in and help.
The possibilities are endless: an LG smart fridge can scan your grocery slip after shopping so that it can keep an inventory of your items. It can also recommend recipes based on stored contents and when you need to replace items, you can order online via the fridge’s LCD display screen.
LG’s smart oven allows you to control and monitor your oven remotely via smartphone. You can pick a recipe from the oven’s recipe bank and it will preheat to the correct temperature.
Switch your icemaker can go into ‘Party’ mode, producing ice almost as fast as you use it.
Smart Washers And Dryers
Companies that manufacturer clothes washers and dryers like Samsung, LG and Whirlpool have begun rolling out smart products that allow you to monitor cycles remotely via smartphone and gauge their energy consumption
With Control4, you can send an announcement through your intercom and flash lights in the kids’ rooms when it’s time for dinner. An ‘entertain’ scene dims the lights and changes the music to let your guests enjoy their meal in a perfect ambiance.
For dinner, push a button and the lights dim, jazz music fires up and you’re ready to enjoy an evening of delicious food and stimulating conversation.
Treat your friends with kids to a rare grown-up dinner party—no babysitters required. The adults can relax upstairs with nice music, great food and drinks, comfortable lighting and conversation that does not involve cartoon characters, while keeping a virtual ‘eye’ on the kids downstairs. Video intercom lets you make sure the mayhem is kept to a minimum while you enjoy an exceptional adult night in.
A growing trend in the luxury home automation market is the digital backsplash, typically installed just above kitchen counter tops where tiling would usually go. These smart walls can display CCTV feeds, or pictures of your children’s artwork, or be used to search the Internet for recipes, all with your fingertips.
EXPERT OPINION: Ramon Casado – Design Director, bulthaup South Africa
How will kitchen design change in the future?
As our world becomes more digitised and globalised, we find ourselves wanting more than just perfection and function — we want something sensual and emotional. We want the freedom to express ourselves. At bulthaup, we have developed a system that can be tailored to the individual and their changing lifestyle – where people can define functions according to their needs and re-define them every day if they want.
What are the kitchen trends for 2015?
Functionality combined with smooth, clean spaces, high-end appliances and new materials.
What percentage of your house value should you spend on your kitchen?
A rough guideline to spend on a kitchen is 10% of your home’s value. Because a bulthaup kitchen’s lifespan can exceed 20 years, it is also a good investment.
And if you thought all that was edgy, now tech-savvy homeowners can enjoy the convenience and comfort of automation from the moment you wake up, until your head hits the pillow again at night.
You can program the perfect conditions to wake up to. At your chosen time, your favourite music will start to play, followed by the opening of your blinds, and a brightening of the lights.
Phillips Hue is changing the way we use light. Combining LED lights with intuitive technology, the bulbs, the bridge and the app allow you to play with all the colours in the spectrum.
Central Vacuum System
A central vacuum system sucks all dirt from throughout the house, and passes it along pipes in the walls, floor or ceiling to a central storage unit concealed in the garage or a cupboard.
Smart Smoke Alarms
Nest is also introducing a combination smoke and carbon monoxide alarm dubbed Nest Protect. It monitors when and where an early threat may be manifesting, and if it’s a false alarm, turns off with the wave of a hand. Nest Protect connects to WiFi and interacts with the homeowner through its smartphone app, monitoring smoke levels and sending alerts if batteries get low
Monitor and manage your home’s energy consumption through any TV or touch screen, or even remotely; see real-time energy use as well as current costs, projected monthly costs and projected monthly power. Program your shades and thermostat to automatically adjust for maximum energy efficiency.
When you have had enough for the day, program a goodnight button to turn off all the lights in your home, lock every door and activate the alarm without leaving the comfort of your bed.
Pieter Fourie, from Smart Spaces
What will the ‘Home of the Future’ look like?
It will be packed with smart appliances that seamlessly integrate with one another to create incredibly connected environments where one action literally triggers ten others.
What gadget could you not live without?
The iPad is astonishing in every aspect. Combine it with a bit of creative thinking and a few apps, and it completely transforms your interaction with everyday tasks such as sending mail, updating social media feeds, not to mention controlling your home, even when you are not there.
What exciting new products do you have available?
- Heatmiser Underfloor Heating solutions.
- Outclass Media server which integrates your dvd / bluray / music collections into the Apple TV interface. This allows you easy access to both your purchased online content as well as physical discs.
- For the outdoor enthusiast, we now offer incredible irrigation solutions.
As sanctuary spaces get bigger and more luxurious, the more opportunities there are to enhance the bathroom experience by integrating technology with the space.
- We highly recommend towel rails that heat up based on your schedule, privacy glass that can be switched on and off and why not bring music and a mirror TV to enjoy while in the bath?
- Who knew a shower could be so clever? Your shower can (and should) have multiple jets for complete body immersion, it could automatically dispense soap, shampoo and conditioner and can store pre-set temperatures for various users.
- Your bath could dispense perfume and bubbles, could have a built TV and Champagne chiller, as well as have water depth and temperature control, with up to 32 jets for massage.
- Energy Saving
There are no two ways about it. We have to save energy. Home automation, combined with an array of renewable energy solutions, from water underfloor heating and solar power electricity to evaporative cooling systems and rain water harvesting helps you conserve energy and save money.
- Water underfloor heating is the most cost effective way to go about it. The water is heated by a renewable source such as wood pellets, solar collectors, heat pumps, pellet or wood fire places with water heating, then distributed through underfloor pipes until the correct room temperature is achieved. This method can also be used to cool rooms in the summer too. http://ecosmart.co.za
- Adjust the default setting for your lights from 100 to 90 percent. You probably won’t even notice the difference, but you’ll save enough energy to reduce up to 850 pounds of carbon dioxide each year—the equivalent of not driving a car for an entire month.
- Use motion sensors or programmable timers to turn off lights in rooms that aren’t occupied.
If you’re a maker, a tinkerer or a creative hobbyist, having your own 3D Printer at home is the way forward. Undoubtedly the next industrial revolution, 3D printing is the ultimate form of customisation and on-demand, allowing you to make an endless variety of items for the home, from phone cases to new parts for the dishwasher, even food in the future!
Keen to find out about more life-changing innovation? Read all about the Isabelo Smart Bench here, Africa’s first ever free-standing, solar powered FREE Wi-Fi hotspot.