Touring the Home of the Future: Five Innovations That Are Changing How We Live
Progress isn’t a straight, upward line, but a generally positive trend marked by many peaks and valleys—in most cases. When it comes to home improvement innovation, though, progress is a near-constant result of booming industries competing to deliver the next must-have residential technology.
Whether it’s connecting every appliance in your home to a central network or using voice command technology to complete common household tasks, it’s clear that there are hundreds of businesses—and thousands of people—dedicated to building the smartest homes possible.
Here are five innovations that are steadily growing in popularity, but will soon become mainstay appliances and amenities in the homes of the future.
Smart Glass Windows
Privacy, like many residential amenities, is swiftly becoming more automated and on-demand. There’s no biggest indicator of this than the surging popularity of smart glass technology, which allows users to toggle the opacity of their window glass. Smart glass windows are constructed using several methods, but we’ll focus on one of the more predominant materials: electrochromic glass.
Either glass or plastic can serve as the base material for electrochromic smart glass windows, but regardless of material type, these windows all feature multiple thin panes parted by a central separator apparatus. Two electrodes are attached to each end of the separator, and when the window is switched on, the lithium ions, or positively charged lithium atoms, are directed to align along the outward-facing pane. This ionic concentration causes the glass to become opaque.
Smart glass windows are most commonly standalone installations, but the technology is continuously being refined so that it can be reconstituted as a film layer that can be retroactively applied to older windows. One could also see smart glass becoming a popular bathroom remodel feature, for those looking for a wall surround or enclosure that grants privacy and custom style. Smart glass technology can also conceivably be integrated with solar energy systems, so while this innovation isn’t a common household item yet, it has many promising applications.
You don’t have to look too distantly into the future to see “the internet of things,” especially when it comes to home appliance manufacturers prioritizing device connectivity. The movement started with the Roomba over 15 years ago and has aggressively ramped up ever since. Now, thermostats, door locks, window shades, and pretty much every home adornment you can think of has Wi-Fi support and can be controlled via a phone or tablet.
Now, with the advent of voice-controlled devices like Amazon Echo and Google Home, the next innovation for these appliances will likely be the further distancing of the operator from the tool. Instead of pulling out a smart device to control an appliance, items will be triggered by voice commands. Convenience is a close relative of popularity, so don’t expect the development of app-controlled appliances to slow anytime soon.
Wireless LED Light Bulbs
These bulbs sport the same design and energy efficiency as conventional light bulbs but offer more personalized lighting options that can be controlled via a smart device or home assistance peripheral. What will truly distinguish these products is how users customize their lighting scheme to parallel certain aspects of their life. For example, some lightbulbs can be programmed to emit a sunrise-like hue in the morning to make waking up a more pleasantly gradual task.
Other wireless light bulbs can be triggered by context-sensitive actions on your smart device, such as a room’s lighting scheme turning to an intense shade if a resident receives an important message or notification.
Solar Roof Paneling and Home Batteries
This home innovation, like so many technologies before it, received an awareness bump after Tesla introduced its solar roof and Powerwall battery, but the idea has such a universal appeal that it would be surprisingly to see other manufacturers miss the bandwagon.
What makes this home innovation so intriguing is its promise of sustainable, personalized power grids that can still provide sufficient energy during inclement weather due to the electricity reserves stored in the home battery connected to the roof paneling. With so many devices and home features depending on a steady electrical supply, people will be looking to reduce their personal liability during a prolonged power outage. As a result, many will see these solar roofing systems as the perfect solution. The only complication that could arise is the recently increased tariffs on imported solar panels. This could drive up the price on an already costly and nascent product.
All-in-One Home Security Systems
The pursuit of security never goes out of style, especially when your security system makes your home feel like an impenetrable digital fortress. Many of these smart security systems feature the convenient specs you’d expect, like motion sensors and mobile home camera feeds, but what has really spurred their popularity is how certain telecommunication companies are incorporating these connected security systems into their regular service bundles. It’s like that landline your cable company is always trying to pawn off on you—but, you know, useful.
The Future is Calling From Inside the House!
In the age of autonomous robots and augmented reality, it’s hard not to have your mind blown by something every day. While some of those striking innovations may amount to nothing more than fads, though, home technologies like the ones profiled above will define what the home of the future looks like, inside and out; so go boldly into that great unknown, just make sure you ask Alexa for directions first.
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