There’s no place like home, says the old adage, and given the advances in technology, it’s a statement that may be more accurate than ever. The home of the future will be tailored to meet our needs and wants more efficiently than ever before.
Smart Homes are Getting Smarter and Smarter
We’re addicted to our smartphones today, and the addiction is likely to get worse, not better, as computers control more and more aspects of our home lives. There are already apps that allow us to adjust the heating and cooling in our homes, and they are just the tip of the iceberg. The Internet of Things, which can be defined simply as the ability to interconnect all of our devices with on-off switches to the Internet and to each other, is already becoming part of our lives, as we use our phones to unlock doors, irrigate lawns and turn on the lights.
In the not-too-distant future, however, homes will have a central nervous system of their own that will monitor all of your appliances and systems and adjust them automatically according to your preferences or needs. In fact, there won’t be any more worries about forgetting your keys, because facial recognition software will be the key to opening the door, and if a stranger knocks, your system will probably be checking to see if he or she is on a wanted list.
Home Construction and Energy Efficiency
Your frame home may be a thing of the past as building materials are adapted and pre-fabricated materials, such as porous, aerated concrete, will be common. Not only are such materials more energy efficient; they are easy to assemble. They’re also pre-cut and measured, so there should be cost savings involved. Even the pre-cut openings for windows could allow homeowners to swap styles of windows in and out easily.
When it comes to energy efficiency, look for many strides to be made. Heating and cooling costs can gobble up 60 percent of your home’s energy bill. Roofs coated with special, reflective pigments that reflect much more light and heat than today’s shingled coverings. You’ll also be able to buy photovoltaic roof panels that are efficient enough to power circuits that run your appliances and electronics. Photovoltaic window coatings will add to the power your home generates to offset your energy use, and computer technology can add adjust the shading provided by your highly insulated windows based on the time of day and light available.
Water is a commodity that will be increasingly scarce and expensive as people realize water resources are finite. Therefore, it may soon be possible to use recycled gray water for uses other than drinking or cooking. Monitoring devices will alert you if the water is left running or your shower goes on too long.
In the bathroom, toilets equipped with heated seats and night lights are already in the works, but smart toilets in the future may also be able analyze bodily fluids for chemical imbalances. Don’t be surprised if the toilet morphs into a solar-powered unit that recycles water and turns waste to fuel.
And while you’re in the bathroom, take a look into your smart mirror. Using artificial intelligence, mirrors may soon be equipped to provide you with wardrobe advice and makeup choices.
The Future of Energy Efficient Appliances
How does a refrigerator with a cooling system based on magnets sound? In the United States, the Oak Ridge National Laboratory is working with General Electric on a refrigerator that uses magnets to change temperature by adjusting the magnetic field. The refrigerators of the future won’t use environmentally harmful coolants, either; they will be replaced with new technology that uses a water-based cooling system.
Get ready for an advance in clothes dryers, too. Heat pumps will generate hot air to dry your gear and save energy – a big 60 percent — while doing so.
Automation in the Home – Helping Hands
Robots are coming our way. The Japanese have been refining them for years, and they’re beginning to recognize human speech. Given the hectic pace of modern life, who couldn’t use another pair of hands – or two? Not only will they put casseroles in the oven or vacuum the living room, but you’ll also be able to use an app to assign them tasks remotely.
In addition, your digital assistants (think Alexa) and their artificial intelligence will become increasingly sophisticated, answering questions, providing news headlines and handling various administrative tasks.Our “brave new world” is coming sooner than we might expect; let’s embrace it.