Paul Hilditch of Systemline explains how smart technology can add value to new build homes, revealing the key elements housebuilders and developers should consider when choosing products, and the challenges to address.
Technology is rapidly advancing to meet consumer demand for personalisation, voice integration and a ‘connected experience.’ In fact, the UK is now the fastest-growing and second largest market for sales of smart devices for the home, according to a survey from GfK Global. The study claims that UK smart home market was worth £900m in 2017 – up 19 per cent in value between 2016 and 2017, and up 35 per cent in volume too.
While this growth has been triggered by some fantastic inventions, it has created a number of challenges for developers who are tasked with providing smart and forward-thinking buildings and homes, including increased costs and additional time being spent on projects.
Manufacturers of smart products need to address the key issues of simplified installation, security and standardisation to help housebuilders and developers to embrace this trend and fulfil their customers’ demands for a 21st century home.
One of the primary reasons consumers choose smart home products is because they are so convenient and accessible. However, these products may not always be simple to install, posing a big challenge for a developer working to a tight deadline, especially if there is no additional budget available to specifically train installers.
Because of this, manufacturers are best served designing products that not only satisfy the consumer’s desire for an easy to use product, but also the developer’s need for a solution that is simple to install. One way to achieve this is to design products that use a small number of cables and components, making them straightforward to design into the home.
Historically, technology has been standardised towards one form that everyone can use, for example the progression from cassette to CD to digital streaming platforms. However, it is often argued that there is currently too much competition in the smart devices market for manufacturers to properly address standardisation. Everyone is trying to out-do the other and create the perfect product for their consumers.
Furthermore, smart technology is too eclectic in its purpose to currently be considered standardised. There is a lot of ambiguity about what a ‘smart’ device is. Some believe that every device connected to the internet must be considered a part of the smart home. While this may be true, some argue that everyday objects such as kettles could be considered ‘smart’ as they automatically switch off when the water boils. From a more practical viewpoint, a smart device is something that saves you money and enhances your everyday life, such as solutions that help you control your energy usage, or monitor the amount of food you have in your fridge.
We are still discovering exactly what we mean by ‘smart’ and how it can be incorporated within the home. The only way to currently address standardisation in smart technology is to ensure the products are simple to install and are user friendly.
As a result of the rise of smart technology, consumers are also becoming increasingly aware of online security. The more items there are that become ‘smart’ around the home, the higher the risk of a security breach. There is a fear that if hackers can access some of the most complex security systems in the world, people’s homes won’t be secure from external breaches. It is something that all producers of smart technology are working on, and they must ensure all their products remain as secure as possible.
Despite these challenges, incorporating smart devices into a project is an excellent way of adding value to a property, and the industry is seeing an increasing number of developers and builders looking for innovative solutions. A true smart home can enhance a buyer’s lifestyle and their enjoyment of the home, and can also save money.
The way we control music and lighting – two important factors in any home, has been revolutionised thanks to a number of exciting products. Some modern multi- room audio solutions can fully integrate with lighting systems. This allows both sound and lighting to be controlled in a smart, innovative and convenient way that enhances the homeowner’s enjoyment of their property, while also saving them money.
To conclude, while the smart home market is still relatively new, and is yet to be completely defined, developers can embrace this trend and add true value to their projects by working closely alongside a trusted and expert manufacturer.
Paul Hilditch is brand director at Systemline.