What new smart homes will look like

 3 months ago
source link: https://www.fastcompany.com/90750426/what-new-smart-homes-will-look-like
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What new smart homes will look like

Innovative technologies are changing how consumers interact with their living spaces

What new smart homes will look like

Technology is not only changing how we work and play, it’s revolutionizing how we interact with our homes. Powered by artificial intelligence and connected sensors, smart-home technology is helping advance sustainability initiatives while making our homes more personalized, comfortable, and secure.


Many homes are already outfitted with discrete innovations, such as smart thermostats. But what will future smart homes look like in a world where separate smart devices converge to create a more seamless home experience? Some of the top minds in design, technology, and sustainability came together during Fast Company‘s Most Innovative Companies Summit to explore how our living spaces are evolving and how smart tech can maximize consumer interest for the world’s gain. Here are four takeaways from that discussion.

1.Change is hard—so make sure innovations are easy.

As smart tech features for the home advance, consumers are expecting more of them—especially in light of how home life has changed during the pandemic. But ease of use remains key to ensuring more widespread adoption of smart technologies.


One way to achieve this is to transform familiar surfaces into smart interfaces, says Cheryl Friedman, vice president of Lowe’s Innovation Labs. “Maybe you just touch a wall,” she says, discussing technology to support elderly consumers, “and that lets your loved ones know that you’re awake for the day or that you’ve had lunch or whatever it may be.”

Integrating technology into these kinds of basic activities also has implications for home improvement. For example, Lowe’s iOS app uses light detection and ranging (LiDAR) technology to help consumers capture measurements within their space. “It’s collecting data and translating it into a two-dimensional floor plan with measurements, and it even creates flooring estimates for you,” Friedman says. “It’s an incredibly easy, fun, and simple way for people to get a handle on their home data.”

2.Empower consumers to take charge of their energy use.


Consumers currently don’t have much insight into their energy use. They find out how much electricity or gas they’ve used when it’s time to pay their utility bills each month. Future smart-home innovations will help consumers manage their use from day to day—for example, by automatically turning off lights or air-conditioning as people move from room to room. “If you can cut your energy usage in your house by half, for instance, it really begins to change the way that people view energy and its usage,” says Brooks Howell, principal and residential global leader for the design and architecture firm Gensler.

These types of innovations are becoming more prevalent. Take the Moen Smart Shower: It warms up to your desired temperature, then shuts off until you get into it, helping conserve water. In addition, a complementary app “enables you to understand what water is being used, whether it’s a shower or a toilet or a faucet,” says Mark-Hans Richer, Moen’s chief marketing and innovation officer. “So, if you see your child is having a 25-minute shower, you can have a conversation about that. It gives you information and control in ways that you would have never been able to see before.”

3.Use information to empower consumers—and their communities.


Housing accounts for 20% of greenhouse gas emissions. Friedman points out that educating homeowners about their contributions can support broader efforts to reduce emissions. “The more people who have smart-home devices and are generating that data, the better decisions can be made, even at a community-wide level,” he says. To that end, Lowe’s creates guides that help consumers understand, prioritize, and address emissions contributions within their homes.

On a national scale, Howell adds that these types of smart technologies can have a direct impact on a country’s economic health. He notes that power capacity can be a major stumbling block, particularly for developing economies. “If you could cut usage by a third, then you’re suddenly talking about reducing the number of years for a country to move from the third world into the first world,” he says. “That’s what this smart technology has the ability to accomplish.”

4.Partnerships make smart tech more accessible and scalable.


To this point, smart technology has been economically out of reach for many families, which in turn has made it more challenging for some of these technologies to be widely adopted. To increase accessibility and scalability, companies can innovate with partners to improve the cost-effectiveness of their solutions.

For example, Moen is collaborating with home builder Lennar to install the “brains” behind Moen’s smart shutoffs in most of the company’s new builds. That way, homeowners just need to buy a Moen smart faucet to take advantage of a broad range of functionality, such as Health Protect (which purges the water lines if you’ll be away for an extended period) and Burst Protect (which does the same if you’re away and a deep freeze is forecast). “It becomes a lot easier to stack the benefits on top of each other and manage water as a network in your home in ways that have never been done,” Richer says. “And that helps with adoption.”

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