Smart home technology innovation has come on in leaps and bounds over the past few years. Now, thanks to the power of technology, we can make almost every element of our homes smart and interactive! There are many levels of ‘smart home design’ that you can integrate into your houses now. They range from simple things like controlling your lights to more advanced control routines that happen automatically when you open the front door. The beauty of an interactive smart home design is there to save you time, offering safer lifestyle and making your life a whole lot easier!
The easiest way to create an entire ‘smart home’ is to consult with a home technology designer. These companies take your house, find out how you want it to work and then do the rest for you.
We spoke with Chhaya from Indigozest, a smart home technology designer and our resident home tech guru to find out how homeowners can make the most out of their house with smart tech:
“First of all, I think we need to try and make our homes as smart as possible to the point where we don’t really need to interact with them a whole lot! In other words, give our homes sensors and logic to be able to do a lot of the things that we would otherwise have to do. This could be simple things like turning lights on or off or more advanced things such as working out when to water the garden, on the basis of temperature, soil moisture content and obviously not whilst the robotic lawnmower is doing its thing. This is all quite possible today. Longer term, with AI, maturing I think we can get to the point of the smart home doing even more for us than we can today.”
For a smart home technology system to work seamlessly with your lifestyle, you need to integrate it with similarly smart appliances and products. When you do this you can truly achieve an entire home that moves at the push of a button.
Getting Smart in the Kitchen
The kitchen is often referred to as the heart of the home and is central to most modern living spaces. Here home technology systems can ensure that your lifestyle runs smoothly and seamlessly, saving time and energy in your busy life.
A smart kitchen design will work alongside your typical routine and become an extra set of hands. Smart appliances from the likes of Samsung, Miele and LG Electronics have come a long way in recent years and can easily interact with each other and a wider home tech network.
Max from Watermark Kitchens is particularly excited about the advance of home technology in kitchen design;
“You can get smart fridges that will read your shopping receipt and then keep a log of all the food you have. You can then ask the fridge for a recipe for say, 4 people, one of them is a vegetarian and your fridge will give you options based on the food it knows you have. When you pick a recipe the fridge can then send a message to the oven to preheat to the right temperature and display the recipe for you on the kitchen TV or screen!”
Smart Lighting + Audio Designs
Smart technology has become the perfect partner for lighting a space. Smart lighting schemes, or moods, can be the perfect accompaniment to open plan living areas. One ‘mood’ is the perfect lighting for cooking but when you come to eat a different lighting scheme lights up the dining areas. These lighting schemes can easily be set up depending on how you use your living space.
The concept of ‘smart lighting’ and using lighting schemes to define open plan living environments can come in really handy, especially when looking at differentiating between entertaining and ‘working’ areas of a home.
“We utilise smart lighting controls all the time in our home cinema designs,” explains Mayur, home cinema designer at IQ Furniture. “Most homes nowadays do not have a dedicated separated room for their ‘home cinema’, instead we integrate home cinema technology into the main living space. Thanks to home technology designs we can then set up different ‘moods’ or schemes within the space. When you want to use the living room for relaxing and entertaining you select one mood. When you are ready to sit back and emerge yourself in a home cinema experience you select the home cinema mood. Blinds can drop, lighting dims, the projector comes out of the ceiling, the projector screen comes down… all at the push of one button. All you have to do then is sit back and relax.”
Get the Building to Move with You
If done correctly you can set up your entire house to move to your commands. The installation of smart home building products - such as automated doors, windows and rooflights – can really push the functionality of your smart home design into a new level.
Internal sliding glass doors, like the inMotion sliding door from IQ Glass, can be designed to move to suit your building uses. The internal door can slide open or closed to suit your preferred ‘scheme’ or mood, or it can be designed to open at movement or a voice command.
Similarly the rear patio doors can move in the same way. For a real wow factor the HIRT Swiss Descending Window, exclusive to IQ Glass in the UK, allows the entire rear wall of a building to sink down below the floor. That is the epitome of indoor-outdoor living design!
Getting the Most out of your Smart Home Design
Having 10 different apps for different functions in your home will take up too much space and its confusing! Single app interfaces are perfect for controlling all our devices from your tablet or phone without having to overthink where the app could be. You need to work with a home technology designer to design a home technology system that works from one point. The computer coding needs to be designed to allow all the different technologies to talk to each other.
This is what Indigozest does:
“To answer the question of ‘how to make your smart home work better’ I think we need to look at a single app interface that can control all of our devices,” says Chhaya. “This can be a dedicated touchscreen, a tablet, or an app on your phone, but it needs to be a single app that can interact with all of the technologies. Not a bunch of different apps for different tasks/technologies.”
What about Voice Control for Smart Homes?
Voice activation, made popular recently with the advance of Alexa and Siri based devices, can mean that you do not even need to push a button at all. Instead, control your entire house with carefully selected voice commands.
“I also like the idea of the voice interface,” explains Chhaya from Indigozest. “Amazon Alexa is developing new ‘skills’ all the time which will continue to improve its functionality. It integrates beautifully with Control 4 Smart Home System to offer you the convenience of hands-free home automation with Amazon Alexa and the Control4 Smart Home Skill.”
So is everything going to be voice activated from now on? Chhaya doesn’t think we are there quite yet but we will be someday;
“Whilst voice interfaces are fun and provide some functionality there is still a long way to go before they can take over the functionality of the dedicated touchscreens and wall switches (who wants to walk into a room and wait 10 seconds for the light to turn on?)”.
Voice interface is remarkably valuable to users who are not tech savvy, visually impaired or those with a disability. Think of it as having your personal assistant- responding to your every command within seconds.