The idea of communicating with our house is beginning to seem normal rather than extravagant. The ability to use our phones to set the temperature we want our house to be at when we get home, or to turn lights on and off remotely, is no longer the stuff of science fiction.
We can now feel secure wherever we are, knowing that if anything unusual happens in our home, we’ll receive a notification. And best of all, all of this technology is becoming increasingly available with the rise of the home automation industry. According to the Spanish Home Automation Association (CEDOM), home automation is a system of control and automation that allows for the control of all elements of a home: technical alarms, ventilation, lighting, air conditioning, facades, awnings, blinds, curtains and renewable energy.
These days, everyone is talking about the Internet of Things (IoT), but Spain has known about home automation since the 1990s. During the housing boom, some construction companies incorporated home automation elements to stand out in the demand-saturated market, but in many cases it was not done to the highest standards. This factor, in addition to the housing crisis that followed, decreased the demand for high-tech houses, and these homes earned a bad reputation due to the number of poor-quality installations performed. In order to favor regularisation and avoid further instances of fraud and abuse, CEDOM has created a table to certify and substantiate the automation of your home.
However, the ability to control some of the technology in our homes is not the same as a home automation system in which the home performs comprehensive data analyses and produces a language from these elements. In other words, a smart house is not simply having automatic blinds that you can activate with your smartphone. Rather, it’s your home detecting that the sun is coming through the window, sending a signal for the blinds to be raised, the heating temperature to be lowered and the lights to be turned off, for example.
The purpose of a smart home is not only to make life more comfortable—it should also be safer and more sustainable. That’s why the homes of the future should provide the following advantages:
- Self-management: as described above, a smart house decodes data and establishes a language with all of its systems so that they can work in coordination with each other.
- Comfort: the inhabitants of a smart building or home should feel that their lives are easier with this coordinated technology. Communication with a home of the future shouldn’t be complex—it should be accessible.
- Safety: one of smart homes’ most valuable attributes is the increased security they provide for homeowners. Video surveillance systems alert the police if an unregistered person enters the home; more secure locks prevent strangers from entering; fire and gas leak alarms, flood sensors and carbon monoxide detectors activate the shut-off valve if they detect an incident. They also send the property owner an alert.
- Sustainability: thanks to elements such as lighting and air conditioning control and water leakage warnings, smart homes provide significant savings in terms of resources and energy.
In addition, a smart home knows your routines and how you live, and learns the habits of the people who live in it. Your mattress will know how you sleep and will be connected to your alarm, coffee maker and shower.
However, there’s still work to be done in this regard. People are hesitant to install smart technology in their home for several reasons, including the fear that hacking could prevent them from accessing their home; the perceived difficulty involved in this technology; and that basic functions of their home could become unusable in the case of an outage.