Branley Blog

The Rise of the “Smart Home”

When the concept of the “smart home” was initially introduced to the housing market it struggled to gain traction with both housebuilders and homeowners due to costs, complicated installation methods and disruptive re-wiring. However, in recent years smart homes have become increasingly popular with the gateway products seeming to be the relatively inexpensive smart speakers, bulbs and plugs. Recent research from Ernst & Young projected that by 2020, 59% of UK households will own some sort of smart home device. The key drivers for most homeowners in introducing smart technology into their homes would appear to be: Convenience, Security & Disaster Management. Notwithstanding its growing popularity, the smart home marketplace is somewhat saturated with products so that it can be difficult to know where to start and what products to buy. Below, we offer a summary of the most popular smart home devices:

Smart Speakers
Smart speakers are fast becoming a home staple. They tend to be wireless speakers with AI (Artificial Intelligence) built into them so that they can respond to voice-controlled commands. Rather than just being limited to emitting sound, smart speakers can be instructed to undertake a range of tasks including but not limited to the following: Playing a particular song or playlist; controlling lighting; setting a timer; controlling heating; creating to-do lists; checking the weather. Whilst initial products on the market prioritised smart characteristics above sound quality, audio performance is improving.

Smart Thermostats
Smart thermostats are aimed at improving energy efficiency and saving costs. They are connected to the internet over wi-fi and can be used remotely via your computer or smartphone to control your heating.

Smart Plugs
A smart plug connects into an existing outlet so that any device can then be plugged in and controlled remotely via an app on your computer or smartphone. It is also compatible with voice assistants and can be used to program appliances. For example, lights can be programmed to come on at a certain time of day when someone is not home to deter intruders.

Smart Bulbs
These internet-capable LED light bulbs can be used to alter the décor and mood of your home. Whilst these are small and simple looking accessories, they can have a transformative affect on the feel of a room. Smart bulbs can wirelessly connect with your smartphone and can even respond to voice commands so that they can be controlled from anywhere. They can dim, change colours, help you sleep better and some even play music.

Smart Light Switches
A smart light switch lets you control anything in your home connected to a switch with your voice or a smartphone app. It can be used to control lights and fans.

Smart Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
When an alarm is triggered these devices use Wi-fi to send a push notification to your smartphone to alert you. If it is a false alarm you can dismiss the notification or if you need to take action you can alert the emergency authorities.

Smart Alarms
Using wireless technology, smart alarm systems can be synced up to your smartphone so that you can customise, monitor and control your home security systems from anywhere.

Smart Security Cameras
In recent years bigger tech companies have invested heavily in home security systems and CCTV. These smart cameras record both the inside and the outside of your home and save the footage (either in the cloud or on the device itself). They can also be connected to your smartphone via an app so you can live stream everything that’s going at home anywhere in the world provided you have access to Wi-Fi.

Robot Vacuum
These machines take the hassle out of one of the most boring household chores. Some come with remote controls whilst most can be controlled remotely via apps so that you can keep your house in neat condition whilst you are away from home.

Smart Fridges
These more futuristic machines are on the rise. It’s clear to see why when you examine their offering. The best smart fridges come with the following: Touchscreens that help you to keep a track of what’s in your fridge whilst also functioning like a family pin-board in facilitating communication (e.g. sharing calendars, photos and notes); the ability to stream music and television whilst you cook and entertain; in-built systems to keep food fresh as well as internal cameras linked to your mobile phone so you can monitor the contents of your fridge whilst doing your weekly shop; automatic doors and drawers.

The “Smart Bathroom”
At the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, great emphasis was placed on the “smart bathroom”. Products tipped for launch included: Internet-connected and voice controlled bathroom mirrors providing hands free displays when putting on make-up and shaving; a make-up mirror with built-in lighting offering 10 different mood settings so users can see how their make-up would appear in daylight, nightlight, restaurant lighting etc…; toilets with night light settings that open automatically and store your favourite heat setting for the seat; voice-controlled showers allowing users to command pre-set temperatures remotely.

As a housebuilder and developer, it is important for Branley Homes to keep up to date with smart technology and consumer needs. We endeavour to consider home technology from the initial design of our new housing schemes all the way through to completion. Home technology upgrades can often be facilitated upon request.