The digital revolution technically all started in the late 1950’s with a new transistor that paved the way for us to move away from analogue radios, VHS and eventually the fax machine (although I’m convinced some people are still holding onto that one). The use of home computers rose hugely in 70’s alongside the increase in home gaming, with mobile technology following suit and then the first digital mobile in 1991. Through this digital transformation the smart phone has evolved from a simple person digital assist (PDA) to what we know today, and what supports us in the running of our lives.
If you look at what is possible on our smartphones today; we as a society undertake a large percentage of our day to day activities from banking, online shopping, arranging travel and gaming, to heating, lighting, TV, AV and through the power of Alexa and Google you can order your weekly shop without leaving the kitchen or use your hands. Is all this a good thing? It’s certainly progressive.
One of the huge positives from a smart home is the capacity to save energy; Lutron, one of the leading manufacturers of smart lighting and originators of the dimmer switch, claim smart lighting can save up to 60% of your energy usage and the benefits are the same with smart heating. As this type of technology starts to widen to include how we operate our showers, manage our water usage and other appliances in the home, we ask, are the vast number of new properties being developed ready for it?
Wi-Fi is a wonderous invention for which we all use to surf the internet, use Netflix and attach bolt on appliances, however our everyday lives are consuming more and more data. Wifi with its infinite uses is limited in its capacity with a bandwidth of 802.11g standard and a maximum theoretical speed of 54Mbps; we now expect to download things within seconds, watch programmes without buffering as well as online gaming and the use of appliances. Wi-Fi, even though it’s heavily protected is also subject to hacking from 3rd parties meaning that if you are running your smart heating, lighting, door entry etc., you are potentially vulnerable. We have all seen enough films to have an idea of what that could entail.
The irony is, that moving backwards to hardwiring is actually moving forwards. To operate smart amenities effectively and not just what you get off the shelf at your local hardware store it requires a physical connection to each output, from an Ethernet cable, Category 6 or above. This guarantees no break in connection, almost zero interruption and risk or external hacking. It also means as various applications become more advance there is the bandwidth to carry more data and keep up with the snowballing progress that is technology.
Fibreoptic is another cornerstone of futureproofing , with 8k and 10k displays hitting the market in the near future and the seemingly never ending advancing in resolution and streamed media, it stands to reason that home builders and developers must adapt or be left in the dark passing large retrofitting costs onto the freeholders.
With all of this in mind, are the 130,000+ homes being built each year ready for the future? Smart home technology was once deemed a luxury product, it is now at the forefront of what homeowners and renters seek to make their lives more efficient and save on their carbon footprint. In the grand scheme of things, the cost of future proofing is relatively minimal, at the very least a developer or housebuilder merely must run sufficient cabling to enable the end user the choice to install their chosen applications.
With the rise of Build to Rent are the proprietary owners giving the end user enough; after all Build to Rent advocates a one stop shop for living, socialising, even eating, drinking and working remotely. If a 1,000 unit rented development with the right infrastructure in place can cut their lighting and heating energy use buy up to 60%, should Joe Blogs be expecting more from developers than just ‘bricks and mortar’?
Technology is ever evolving, building methods are adapting, the wider use or prefabricated modular developments demonstrate that the industry is looking forwards, however there is still an infrastructure gap that could be easily closed to ensure no one is left behind in this fast-changing landscape.
Written by Sam Pemberton-Hill, Senior Finance Recruitment Consultant at GKR London Property Recruitment.
Tel: 0207 048 3304
*Technical Data Supplied by www.avastsolutions.co.uk*