From Novelty to Normality: How smart will tomorrow’s homes be? (By Dr Andrew Dickson)
NNN: By Dr. Andrew Dickson, Engineering Executive, CBI-electric: Low Voltage (https://CBI-lowvoltage.co.za)
Smart homes are no longer a thing of the future, but a reality of the present, and soon they will be even smarter. Global spending on IoT (Internet of Things) products is forecast to reach $1.1 trillion by 2023 [i], emerging from the pandemic unaffected with more and more people wanting connected homes. As such, the rate of smart home technology adoption shows no signs of slowing down.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is becoming more and more ingrained in our daily lives and, as a result, it is getting smarter. When it comes to our homes, AI can use information gathered from the grid, weather data, and smart meters, along with energy consumption statistics, to analyze, improve, and optimize the operational and energy performance of our homes.
The advancement of this technology means that smart homes will not only anticipate our needs and do so automatically, but will also be able to detect health conditions, prepare our meals and even exercise our pets for us. In the future, all appliances, plugs and accessories will have an element of automation based on our needs or schedules.
In general, however, the smart homes of tomorrow will be more connected, aware and autonomous.
Today‘s homes have been enhanced by a myriad of devices ranging from those for home intelligence and energy efficiency to entertainment, access control and home comfort. But now, with more people working remotely, this has expanded to include devices that help with daily tasks and connectivity. As technology advances, more of these devices will communicate with each other.
By doing so, smart homes will be able to learn more about their owners or occupants and be able to anticipate their needs. This is the result of the data that these interconnected devices will be able to collect, analyze, share and execute, helping to transform the homes of the future from a series of interconnected devices and accessories into truly “smart” homes. Imagine, for example, coming home with a package of medication delivered by drone courtesy of health sensors built into your bathroom that detected signs of impending illness and automatically placed an order with your pharmacy through a health app. .
Homes (and neighborhoods) could be powered by smart microgrids that use renewable energy sources. This could solve the current challenge of access to electricity in Africa. Properly designed and maintained, these systems can be sustainable well into the future.
In Alabama, a microgrid pilot project has been launched to test how homes can interact and become more energy efficient. The 62 homes in the Alabama Smart Neighborhood have been built to incorporate home automation and be connected to a microgrid. The technology used can forecast the weather, predict neighborhood electricity usage, and then make decisions about whether to run the microgrid’s solar panels, battery storage, or backup natural gas generator. Different goals can also be set, such as minimizing costs or reducing carbon output. In addition, the control system communicates with household devices and can adjust them remotely. However, each household within the microgrid can set parameters within which this software can make changes, such as maximum and minimum temperatures for heating and cooling.
Africa is still developing and deploying microgrid and smart city development concepts. However, to move towards sustainability, it is critical that small cell systems, including smart buildings, become commonplace.
Seventy-three percent of homeowners say they use smart devices for convenience and time savings [ii]. While current technology allows users to control appliances and systems from anywhere in the world, the capabilities will expand for convenience in the future. We’re already seeing the rise of refrigerators that email recipes to owners based on what’s inside, washing machines that send a text message once a load of laundry is done, and virtual assistants that respond to one’s mood. depending on the tone of voice. We also have sprinkler systems that only turn on when scheduled if it doesn’t rain. Most of these smart home devices are controlled via apps, so having them all seamlessly managed through a single command center could offer users the most convenience.
Smart homes will be the future. Life as we know it will be irrevocably altered for the good of consumers and the country as a whole. Start investing today in the smart homes of tomorrow.
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