What is the future of smart homes?

It’s common to ask Google or Alexa to queue a playlist or turn on the TV these days. But with the evolution of artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT), our homes are set to become even smarter. In GIO’s Man in the Know series, Futurist Dr Richard Hames predicts that Australian homes will be equipped with around 800 connected devices that will accurately anticipate your family’s needs. Let’s unravel how these devices might transform our homes and lives for good.

Background: IoT and home automation

These words can seem pretty tech-y, so let’s clear up the confusion. Let’s say you connect devices like your home’s thermostat, lights and air conditioner to your Wi-Fi network. They can then ‘talk’ to each other wirelessly. This network of connected devices is called the Internet of Things.

Taking that a step further, home automation is all about programming and scheduling these devices for things like time-related commands and triggered events. Think having your lights turn on or off at specific times of the day.

These devices chat to each other via a central ‘hub’. With hubs like Samsung SmartThings, Google Nest and Apple HomeKit, you can control many aspects of your home from the palm of your hand. From the living room to the kitchen, bedrooms, garage, garden and more.

Automated shopping lists and reduced food wastage

Automation has the potential to change the way we shop for, prepare and consume food. Tech like smart food storage containers and fridges make it easy to know exactly what’s in your fridge and pantry. Going through recipes at work and trying to figure out if you have the right ingredients? Just check in from your phone.

While this technology is already available, it’s likely to become more affordable and accessible in the not-so-distant future. Shopping and meal prep will become completely seamless, and automated tagging of use-by dates will help you make the most of the food you have.

Energy efficiency and smart insulation

Smarter homes could also put a dent in your energy bill. Home energy management systems that monitor your energy usage through smart plugs and meters have been around for a while. Fast forward to the future – you’ll be able to control what elements of your home will be powered by solar, battery or the grid, potentially reducing your bills. Better yet, your smart home energy management system will be able to adjust the heating, lights, appliances and water to optimal levels without human commands.

New smart window technology can also improve your home’s efficiency. Embedded sensors in these windows can monitor the weather and pass data to your smart home energy management system, which will optimise your thermostat’s settings accordingly.

Smarter security

New home security technology can give you greater peace of mind. Controlled via your smartphone, smart locks let you lock and unlock your home without a key, and bolt the door behind you when you shut it. Smart lights can be set to turn on and off at random intervals, to make it look like there’s always someone home. A smart security system can also notify you of any issues and let you view camera footage in real-time, from anywhere in the world. These features are set to become standard in many new homes.

The rise of affordable smart security systems may also make insurance claims easier. If you do have a break-in, security camera footage might help support your claim. Having the right level of Home and Contents Insurance can help too! Refer to your relevant PDS for details.

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