Smart home technology is built right into many new homes today. The home above, featured on our June Artisan Home Tour (#12 by Oslo Builders), had managed lights, audio and security. You’ll see more on our next Parade of Homes starting September 10th. So what’s next? There’s a whole new world of technology that is making home design and building smarter.
Because entertainment, security, lighting and safety devices top the list of today’s most popular smart home gadgets, an estimated 45 percent of Americans already have smart-home technology or plan to invest in it this year, according to a Coldwell Banker survey.
But emerging technologies, like smart-home devices, are not only making homes more automated, they’re also transforming the way homes are designed. Here are a few ways technology is changing the future of home design.
Virtual Reality Home Design
At this year’s International Builders’ Show, Builders Digital Experience introduced a new virtual reality viewer and app that enables homeowners to virtually tour homes from their smartphone, even before they’re built. Upon downloading the app, put your phone into the viewer and hold it up to your eyes. You can then choose the home design you want to preview before being virtually transported into the home. From there, you can move around the floor plan by focusing your eyes on hot spots between rooms. In conjunction with digital tools that let home builders efficiently adjust blueprint plans, this type of technology promises to make it easier for homeowners to build the home of their dreams.
3-D Printed Homes
At this year’s Milken 2016 Global Conference, Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt identified the application of 3-D printing to the construction industry as one of six key technologies that will revolutionize the world. Schmidt said 3-D printing will speed up construction time, reduce costs and enable homes to be built with recycled materials. Construction firms like Chattanooga’s Branch Technology are already turning this vision into reality.
Branch’s cellular fabrication technique uses a robot arm to extrude carbon fiber reinforced by plastic material to create frameworks that can be sprayed with cost-efficient materials, like foam and concrete, to lay down strong, hybrid building structures. The process produces walls as strong as concrete but which are much lighter, with the ability to be molded into any shape. Such processes enable architects to depart from traditional box-shaped homes and incorporate curved designs into buildings, freeing up home builders’ creative visions.
Another emerging home design technology grabbing Google’s attention is smart walls that serve as digital screens. Google has patented a projection system that can show images on a photo-reactive wall, enabling homeowners to change the look of a wall as easily as changing a screensaver or a desktop wallpaper. Google’s projector is one example of a trend toward smart walls that incorporate technology into wall design and connect walls to the Internet of Things.
A project developed by EU-based Openarch has taken this a step further by building an entire home designed to incorporate smart features into the building’s walls and floors. Any wall, floor or surface can be used to watch movies, surf the Internet, video chat, play video games or use apps without the need for a monitor or screen.
Smart Interior Design
Smart home technology is also transforming interior design. Smart home innovations can, for example, enable heating and cooling appliances to be built into a home’s walls and floors. They can be controlled by a smartphone, thereby removing them from view and enhancing aesthetic appeal. Heated flooring systems, previously a trend in master bathrooms, are spreading to other rooms.
In addition, motion sensors are enabling light-touch and no-touch faucets similar to those used in retail store restrooms. Meantime, wireless shower heads with Bluetooth connection capability can bring music into your bathroom. Now, that takes singing in the shower to a whole new level.
GPS-connected virtual perimeter geofences are another innovation reshaping home design. When enabling geofencing in the rooms and perimeter of your home or in your yard, you can program your home to automatically perform designated actions. For instance, you can receive automatic text alerts when your child or pet leaves a designated safety zone.
If you own an Android device like the Samsung Galaxy S7, which includes the Smart Lock feature, you can set it to automatically unlock when you enter your home or any other designated location. Other applications of geofencing include lights that automatically turn on when you enter a room, as well as its ability to heat a room and its inhabitants during winter.