Intelligent homes do everything for you, save energy or even generate their own, and are made of virtually indestructible self-repairing materials. Does this sound like a home you'd like to move in to? Is this the future that's waiting for us in the next generation of housing? Some contemporary architects and companies working in the real estate and construction industry are already coming up with concepts that might not be quite as sci-fi as you think. This article presents the most amazing features we’ll find in our houses in the not-too-distant future.
“Honey, I’m pregnant. I think we should buy some more house.”
The concept of an expanding and shrinking house is one of architects’ ultimate challenges. The amount of space we need changes over the years. When we’re young and studying, we barely need more than our own room, a bathroom, and a kitchen. As we find our loved one and start a family, the need for more spacious accommodation solutions becomes more and more pressing. Eventually, after our beloved children leave the nest, we barely need more than one guest room to accommodate visits from our grandchildren, and the rest of the house becomes a bit of a burden.
Lumenhaus in Millenium Park
The project designed and built at Virginia Tech called Lumenhouse as part of a research program won the Solar Decathlon Competition in June 2010 and the AIA Honor Award for Architecture in 2012. The house brings a lot of features that have a huge chance of succeeding. One of these is the way it deals with the need to expand and shrink the house. The team proposes that only one part of the house will hold the expensive electronics, heating systems, and energy systems, so it will serve as a core where two people can live quite comfortably. If you want to have a family, you can invest in another part of the house that won’t be as expensive as the core. In the scenario where you live in a community of Lumenhouses, you’ll eventually be able to sell the part you no longer need because your kids moved out to a young family that's expecting their first child and aims to expand their unit. This is a very simple and ingenious concept that enhances the sense of community and solves one of the toughest questions modern architects face today.
2. HOME APPLIANCES OF THE FUTURE - WIFI FRIDGE & WASHER
“Let me check what’s in the fridge… or just ask the fridge.”
The concept of the smart fridge has finally become a reality. Although there are things a creative mind can still add to the concept, some of the already available options can offer luxuries beyond our expectations.
Samsung has developed a Wi-Fi–enabled fridge that includes an 8” touch screen, making access to apps very easy. Some of the apps are a bit redundant but there are also some amazing options — like Evernote, which allows you to leave notes for the rest of your family (and the notes will synchronize with all the other electronic devices!), or Epicurious, a website that allows you to look for recipes while you’re gazing into your fridge to check if you really have all the ingredients you need. Samsung’s Twin Cooling Plus system uses two evaporators to keep humidity high inside the fresh food section — so that fresh food stays fresher longer, with no odour transfer between fridge and freezer.
We asked Warner Doell, vice president of home appliances sales and marketing at Samsung Canada, about his expectations regarding the future of intelligent fridges on the market. He replied,
Now more than ever, digitally savvy consumers are seeking out smarter technology in every aspect of their lives and it’s no different in appliances. Samsung tries to enable consumers to be more connected and organized through their household devices and appliances and we’ve extended that connectivity right into the kitchen. I believe you’ll see more smart appliances as we move forward as consumers seek out new innovations that allow them to leverage their personal devices to truly make life more convenient and enjoyable.
LG designed the Smart ThinQ Refrigerator, which allows you to connect through a smartphone app or look directly at the display. The Smart ThinQ will be able to tell you what's inside, whether some of the food is about to expire, and even what meal you can cook from the ingredients inside. If it doesn’t find an alternative, it will suggest what ingredients to buy to be able to cook a specific recipe, and it lets you shop online immediately from the fridge door.
Iphone by Viktor Hanacek
The era when our fridges will connect to the rest of our kitchen and, together with the oven, be able to make a main course without human assistance doesn’t seem too far off.
Samsung’s Wi-Fi–enabled PowerFoam Laundry Pair combines superior cleaning performance with PowerFoam and a new Smart Control System that will significantly streamline the laundry process. The Wi-Fi laundry pair delivers a comfortable and effective laundry experience. The washer’s Smart Control system allows consumers to stay connected to the washer cycle without having to remain close to the machine. Consumers can, via a smartphone application, monitor cycle selections, remaining time, and finishing alerts as well as remotely start or pause the washer from anywhere in the house or on the go. This app-enabled system sounds like a dream for college students who hate laundry!
Laundry Night by Sean Freese
Our Wi-Fi appliances illustrate Samsung’s vision for a smarter, more connected home. We will continue to invest in these technologies that deliver ultimate performance and convenience. Canadians have responded positively to our innovative line-up of home appliance products.
3. Home Generator System
“Dear natural disaster, I refuse to live without electricity!”
Our homes highly depend on power supply. Households around the world are using more and more devices that can't function without an electrical supply — entrance gates (sometimes even doors), security systems, heating, air-conditioning, TVs, computers, mobile chargers, et cetera. It has become clearer than ever that we're going to need a dependable and powerful electricity supply in case of some kind of disaster that would cut us off from the main electrical grid, or in the case of power failure.
Lightning by numero B
Mr. Li from North Bay says all the electronic devices in his mountain hut rely on a generator:
I often visit our cottage in the mountains with my wife. It is incredible how much comfort one can get from a well-maintained generator. I think the greatest thing is that we simply don't have to hold back. I can watch TV in the morning and my wife can use all the electric appliances she needs around the house.
The U.S.–based technological giant GE created a line of extremely powerful and highly resistant yet very compact generator systems. Its 8 kW Home Generator System keeps all the essentials in your home powered when electrical lines can't make the cut. The lights will stay on, the heating won’t fail, and the fridge will be able to keep your supplies unspoilt. According to GE, this 8 kW Home Generator System with its new space-saving design has the smallest standby generator footprint of its class. Extremely small, powerful, and durable generators like this one from GE will definitely become a permanent feature of our properties.
4. gigabit fibre connection
"Downloaded before you’ve managed to put your finger off the mouse!"
Most of the fantastic futuristic concepts we dream about require almost the instantaneous response from our devices, and those need incredibly fast access to the Internet. So far, we've managed to develop optical fibres that carry huge amounts of data into our lives every day. On March 30, 2011, Google announced that Kansas City, Kansas, would be the first community equipped with the new network with a gigabit fibre connection. Since then, multiple locations in Austin, Kansas City, Provo, and Stanford have been connected to the grid, distributing the fastest commercially available high-speed connection in the world, providing households with the content reachable within seconds.
Ipad by Viktor Hanacek
Understandably, there's certain scepticism over the need for such high-speed connections in households. We have to realize that although we don't necessarily need gigabit connections now, the content of the Internet keeps growing, and its quality has skyrocketed over the past few years. And besides, who wouldn’t like to have a film ready to watch instantly?
5. nest thermostat
“I have preheated the house to 70ºF. See you in five!" —Your thermostat
Intelligent thermostats already run quite smoothly, and there's no question about their place in future homes. Nest Thermostat is an intelligent thermal regulation system that consists of multiple thermostats around your house that communicate with each other to provide maximum comfort for the lowest possible energy footprint. Installation is as easy as setting up the light fixture, which is another of the great advantages Nest offers. The thermostat is able to learn all the efficient temperatures within the first week. After this, you can rely on its memory to set the right temperature by itself.
The Auto-Away feature automatically turns to an energy-efficient "away" temperature when you’re gone. If you decide to come home early, you can access the thermostat at all times and simply let it know it’s time to preheat the house. The Nest system will let you know when it's most efficient to cut the temperature, since sometimes, just one degree can save up to 5 per cent of energy costs. The same principles apply for air conditioning, which can the intelligent thermostat can also master. This is the future of all our homes, and it’s available now!
6. SELF-HEALING MATERIALS
“Go and repaint that wall. It won’t fix itself!”
“Um, yes it will…”
One of the most advanced technologies out there that we might expect to spread through all parts of our lives is self-healing materials, which are able to repair damage caused by mechanical use over time. We can call the material "self-healing" when human intervention in the repair process is no longer necessary. Self-healing materials came to practical use very recently, at the beginning of 21st century, and they were largely inspired by the ability of living organisms to heal themselves after suffering minor damage. The materials are, however, still in an experimental stage. Several companies, like Autonomic Materials Inc., are trying to develop coatings that can be applied to various surfaces, protecting wood from erosion, iron from corrosion, et cetera.
Blau by Noortje Schmit
Imagine your house painted with a colour that contains the self-healing polymer. You'd never have to paint over the scratches or take care of your roof anymore. All the surfaces will heal themselves after being scratched, and no form of erosion caused by weather or your children trying to park the car will bug you anymore — healing themselves just like Wolverine.
7. GOLDEE SMART LIGHT CONTROLLER
"Lights can imitate sunrise too!"
One of the latest hits on the market with intelligent systems is one of the recent start-ups — the Goldee Smart Light Controller. The basic controller is priced at $249 for those who decide to preorder, but the price will jump to $349 after production starts. The Goldee team says that so far, people love Goldee, and they're getting a lot of positive feedback. The page of this start-up also shows great interest in the technology.
Livingroom Light by Carolien Dekeersmaeker
Michael from the Goldee Team explained that the Goldee Light Controller has several smart functions: gesture control (swipe left or right to change the light scene, swipe up to turn your lights on, and swipe down to turn your lights off), Sunrise Alarm (makes waking up in the morning feel natural), Sleep Timer (which gradually fades your lights and prepares you for sleep), Smart ON/OFF (the controller automatically turns your lights off when you leave home and turns them back on when you arrive), Night Mode (which turns on dim light to help you get around when you wake up in the middle of the night), Smart Security (which simulates your presence in the home while you're travelling), and Dynamic Light Scenes (which create different ambiances).
Currently, there are ten dynamic light scenes that Goldee supports. However, we are working on a Lighting library that will allow users to create, share and manage their very own dynamic light scenes,
So far, Goldee sounds like an amazing idea and like something that has vast potential to become a must in every household. It caters to our daily biorhythm and makes the lights in our homes much more responsive to our needs.
Many intelligent systems are quite hard to come by and extremely complicated to install. Michael explains how Goldee works:
It's as easy as just swapping one regular light switch for another. This simple. Smart LED bulbs like LIFX or Philips Hue are as easy to replace as any other bulbs. So installation is very easy and very user-friendly. You can check our bundle pricing on our website.
It seems that the technologies that enable more natural behaviour in our homes will have their way paved for them.
8. INTELLIGENT SECURITY CAMERAS
“Police, this is house JB1245847. There’s a burglary about to happen.”
Minority Report meets reality. The intelligent security cameras developed by security firms to anticipate the behaviour of potential criminals that are in the vicinity of your house would have made Minority Report more realistic than you'd think. Imagine you're asleep in your house, and suddenly, your alarm wakes you up, informing you that there's an 80 per cent chance you’re about to be burglarized. It suggests you relocate to your safe room until the police arrive. I'd probably not object to the next generation of security system that would guarantee an almost 100 per cent secure home.
9. MOVIES ON THE WALL
“Pull the movie up on the wall, will you?”
The age of huge plasma and LCD TVs is about to experience quite an earthquake. Imagine that you’re sitting in your bed and you’d like to watch the newest Robert Downey Jr. movie, and instead of limiting yourself to your laptop or tablet, you can simply pull the movie up on the wall, which instantly comes to life and becomes a massive display. Companies like Corning have put quite a lot of thought into the concept, and we can expect this idea to be incorporated into our homes. Personally, I'd love to eat my breakfast on a table that displays my morning newspaper at the same time!
"You’ll never need to buy herbs ever again!"
Indoor Garden by ellenm1
Indoor gardening is one of the things more and more people are growing quite attached to. Here are the reasons you should expect these micro gardens to become an inseparable part of our homes. Firstly, as cities grow, we're going to lack plants in our lives more than ever. (Let’s face it, current city planning in the world’s capitals isn't helping this situation too much.) Most people have a nurturing side to their personality but often don't have the ability to accommodate a pet. In these situations, a small herb garden fulfils this role perfectly. Moreover, you can show off in front of your neighbours and friends when you put fresh basil on the pasta you’ve just cooked!