smart home, home automation - pressalit

The smart home is here, allowing users to control functions such as heating and lighting via apps and sensors. And even before these functions become common property, the next level of homes is in the making. Imagine being able to control your entire bathroom with your voice and your eyes. And imagine your toilet keeping track of your health. The smart home may be here, but soon everything will be about automation.

The idea of a smart home might make you think of Bill Gates, who spent 7 years and more than $100 million building his notoriously smart home. This technological marvel built in the 90s, rivaled anything we had seen in the property market, but today reminds us that smart homes are no longer design concepts of the future. They are built now, they have been built for a while, and they have direct impact on the lives of people living in them. What’s changing right now is that smart homes are no longer only available for the super-rich. And the homes are evolving from just plain smart – to automated.

What are the benefits of a smart home?

The appeal of the smart home is that it enables owners to remotely control parts of the home and configure time schedules for smart home-enabled devices to help control costs and energy-efficiency (i.e. green homes). This also entails added convenience and potential time savings.

While the nascent smart home market still has plenty of room for growth, examples of smart home technology currently on the market include internet-enabled and controlled refrigerators, smart thermostats like the Nest thermostat, smart lights with light occupancy sensors, and smart door locks and security systems. Most of these smart home devices now include a mobile app for managing them via a smartphone or tablet.

Soon your home will take care of you

According to a report from Berg Insight, North America has the highest number of installed smart home systems, with 12.7m smart homes at the end of 2015. This could soon grow to 46.2m smart homes by 2020 – around 35% of households in North America.

The term “smart home” currently means different things to different people. Right now, for a device to qualify as being ‘smart’, it simply needs to be connected. But over the next few years, the smart home is going to become a lot smarter as increasing integration between devices and platforms as well as better use of data will arise. The end-goal is home automation.

At the moment, smart home devices tend to give users a lot of control. However, an app for everything may be smart, but it is not necessarily very liberating. In contrast, the idea behind home automation is to have the home take care of you, rather than you take care of it. This could mean anything from blinds automatically opening and closing based on factors such as time of day, ambient lighting or weather conditions, or the lamp in your home office turning on as you approach your desk. In fact, with a new generation of smart home devices entering the market packing an array of sensors from motion or proximity detection to something that measures air quality, the possibilities of home automation are becoming almost limitless.

A smart home is a safe home for the elderly and disabled

Our population is growing at unprecedented speed, and we are living longer than ever. One in five of us now has a life expectancy of 100 years and 15 % of the world is disabled. Inevitably, this increases demand for care. In the past few years, technology in all areas and aspects of life has upped its game. People with disabilities and the elderly can gain huge advantages from this, being able to stay independent and in their own home longer than ever before.

The bathroom in particular will change dramatically in order for us to become more independent in our own houses. As many people may already know, this room holds a special place for the Japanese. They are pinnacles of high technology, personal comfort and even national pride. Since their current demographics reflect what is in store for the West, it is the place to look if you want to try to predict the future.

Japanese toilets – from laughing stock to standard

Japan seems to be obsessed with toilets and bathrooms in general and popular Japanese brand and “washlet” maker Toto has even created a toilet museum at its home base in Kitakyushu, the southern-most of the four Japanese islands. The museum is devoted to Toto’s renowned product called the Washlet, originally an electronic toilet seat developed to enhance cleanliness.

Today 7 out of 10 Japanese own Washlets with washing and air-drying incorporated to replace the use of toilet paper. It is predicted that within 5-10 years this type of toilet will be standard in smart-homes all over the world. Yet YouTube is filled with videos of foreigners both marveling – and laughing – at these types of toilets, so it looks like the elderly and the disabled will be the western first movers of new intelligent bathroom concepts.

Control your bathroom with your voice and eyes

A fully automated and voice controlled shower is almost ready to be introduced in Danish nursing homes. With this type of shower, the elderly and disabled will be able to, more or less, take a shower without assistance from caregivers or relatives. This could undoubtedly provide more personal dignity for the elderly and disabled, and it will save time for the staff. According to the manufacturer Bad+, each “shower-suite” is able to register water resistance, temperature, soap and shower duration to tailor to individual needs. All the user has to do is to sit still and control the bath features with his or her voice. If the innovative development of this smart technology feature takes place as planned users will soon be able to control the functions with their eyes.

The toilet that tracks your health

The toilet of the future will, most likely, become more advanced. The latest intelligent toilet, currently being tested on the Japanese market, can test your health in different ways. One example is that the toilet will be able to analyze your urine for sugar, which may help reveal diabetes. Other toilets are able to analyze your stool for blood, grease and bacteria, and some models can even check your blood pressure and measure your blood circulation. The very sophisticated models also allow you to get your test results sent directly to your cell phone, effectively adding your very own home clinic to the toilet. This is when your home truly starts taking care of you instead of the other way around.

This invention could be important to people suffering from chronic diseases such as diabetes and constipation, among others, but anyone concerned with their health could possibly use it to, as an example, find out if they are eating too much fatty food.

Independent living

At Pressalit, we aim to help people live more independent lives, and we embrace the new world of smart and automated homes. We want to create equal opportunities for everyone to be self-serving and to keep living. Smart homes and automation certainly support our ambitions. In an up-coming blog, we will take you a few steps behind the scenes and give you some insights on what we are working on for the near and not so distant future. So stay tuned.