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Is this how the house of the future will look? Cambridge tech experts IDTechEx describe the ultimate smart home

The key elements of a sustainable property have been unveiled by IDTechEx, the independent business intelligence organisation based on Hills Road.

The ‘house of the future’ is a smart home laden with technology and cutting-edge engineering designed to retain heat and automate as many functions as possible. IDTechEx’s research suggest that these houses will also “take care of you” by delivering “warmth that wanders from room to room with you” and “a floor that can feel when you fall”.

Here’s what it came up with:

The IDTechEx smart home of the future
The IDTechEx smart home of the future

From the Windows to the Walls

Smart homes have started with add-on appliances like Google home, smart fridges, or ring doorbells. These plug-in features are helpful to personalise a house to the needs of the inhabitants but can be clunky, with outlets used up and unsightly wiring across walls and floors. Coming next is built-in technology, ubiquitous throughout the building and, eventually, the neighbourhood.

If These Walls Could Talk

The house could assist with care for the vulnerable; pressure sensors in the floor could analyse gait to tell if the inhabitants fall or seem to be limping and could alert family, friends, or support services.

New Technologies Bringing the House Down

IDTechEx reports that London and New Hampshire-based sensor technology company Laiier are focusing on leak sensing. The goal is to build the technology into the property’s structure. Available now, however, are thin-film, large-area sensors which can be placed under appliances such as dishwashers, washing machines, and boilers. The sensors can also be produced in tape format for installation at low cost and without any specific expertise.

Smart homes deliver continual feedback to assist control of the environemtn you live in. Picture: iStock/PA
Smart homes deliver continual feedback to assist control of the environemtn you live in. Picture: iStock/PA

Hothouse Inhabitants

With energy costs a hot topic right now, The Warming Surfaces Company has partnered with Portuguese high-pressure laminate company Soforma to develop prototypes of a film that, when integrated into laminate, can enable surfaces to provide heating. This can be used for underfloor heating, heated walls, and integrating into furniture.

Clever Carpets

InnovationLab has developed a system which determines the number of customers in the store at any time. Furthermore, the system can discriminate between customers and trollies/carts to improve accuracy.

This technology could one day be used in applications such as care homes and assisted living to alert medical staff to the progress of patients and potential injuries and hazards.

Bright Ideas

Fumbling for the light switch could become a thing of the past. Lighting is, of course, already built into most homes, but printed electronics offer visuals with a twist.

Tactotek outlined that as smart homes become increasingly established, product developers have to meet the challenge of how to fit more electronics into products without sacrificing beauty and style.

Examples include incorporating electronic functionality below wooden veneers and within thin plastic layers.

Keeping track of you energy use is already normalised. Picture: Alamy/PA
Keeping track of you energy use is already normalised. Picture: Alamy/PA

The House of the Future

All of these growing technologies paint a picture of the house of the future. Pressure sensors interacting with heating, lighting, and moisture sensors could make the reality of a house with integrated lighting that could react to the time of day and turn itself off when a person leaves the room.

Ultra-effective underfloor heating that could follow a person around a room and heated surfaces to keep food and drink hot and cold as needed. A house that senses leaks, falls, and hazards, catering to the inhabitant’s safety as much as comfort.

IDTechEx also has published analyses of trends in 2023, including the printed/flexible electronics market, and the digital transformation of the material R&D sector.

On December 2 at 10am, IDTechEx hosts an online webinar titled ‘What Will 2023 Hold for Augmented and Virtual Reality?’.

Full details of events and reports can be found at idtechex.com.

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