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Are smart homes the next trend?Living in the era of rapid technological advancement means that consumers have grown accustomed to being able to access vast amounts of information in a minimum space of time. Technology that once filled an entire room now fits in the palm of one's hand and some gaming consoles now have more computing capacity than a space shuttle computer. So what is next, asks Adrian Goslett, CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa.
We have smartphones, iPads, tablets, and some consumers have a smart TV or refrigerator. Could the next step be a smart home? With network connections and advancements in the ability of technology to transform our daily lives, it seems that the next trend will be homes that are fully operational through computers. A home that has an integration of technologies designed to allow the homeowner to access and control various household appliances and other automated features via a broadband connection. This could include from regulation of the home’s air-conditioning system to unlocking the door.
"While there are currently a few affluent consumers worldwide that already have homes that can be controlled from a distance, for most the technology is just too expensive at the moment. However, while the cost of the technology is keeping it from the mainstream homeowner, as more developments in the technology occur, it will become cheaper and more accessible. We may even see future housing built with the technological gadgets already installed as a feature," says Goslett.
He notes that the cost of many of the electronic devices essential to making a smart home a possibility, have already become dramatically less expensive and more easily available. Advancements in devices that use Wi-Fi and other wireless data connections have made it easier for users to integrate their home electronic systems with items such as smartphones and other connected equipment that they currently own.
"From a security perspective, the ability to monitor and control elements within a home through a broadband connection will give the homeowner the peace of mind to travel without worrying about their greatest financial asset. Some security companies in the US have already launched security packages for smartphones that include the installation of their security sensors. The cost of these applications and services are in line with packages that do not include a smartphone service, which means they are readily available to the man in the street," says Goslett.
With current available technology there are certain limitations to what a smart home can do, but with the rapid rate at which technology changes – the possibilities are endless. Currently some features that have entered the market in certain countries are services that include automatic regulators that adjust air conditioning units when nobody is home and systems that allow the environmental conscience homeowner to monitor their power usage.
"With global warming and energy usage a burning issue, homes being built with energy management systems are not too far in the future. Currently consumers are able to judge their power usage by the cost they are billed monthly; however, developments are underway to allow consumers to monitor the amount of electricity passing through an individual outlet. This way the homeowner will be able to detect outlets that are experiencing higher than average output and they will be able to rectify the situation," says Goslett, "While the smart home is currently just a concept, we may not be far way off it becoming a reality," he concludes.