Ever wondered what the flat of the future will look like? Laura Geode from American Proptech company Homebase has some interesting ideas. Most of them revolve around IoT or the internet of things. This means greater connectivity between the devices and appliances in our homes; something we will soon all take for granted.
First, says Laura, our homes will talk to us. Many of us already have AI assistants in the form of Alexa or a Google hub but this technology is evolving fast. For flat owners and renters, a digital concierge will soon be there to turn on your lights, rent a car from the block’s car-sharing service or find a film for you to watch.
The internet of things will transform the way we live
And what about fixtures and fittings? Laura predicts that from windows to appliances and light bulbs to locks, there will be dozens of IoT devices in each unit making them more user-friendly and energy efficient. Picture this: your refrigerator door features a screen showing a digital image of all the food inside of it. You click on the chicken breasts and a list of recipes appears, all based on the food you have in stock. Missing an ingredient? There’s a one-click option to buy and have it delivered to you in time for tea!
Developers are keen to take up this technology but Laura says it's important to approach it correctly. Most properties that try to be “smart” start with installing IoT devices like thermostats and locks, she says. Instead, developers should start with property-wide wi-fi, Bluetooth, and sensors. This network infrastructure allows devices to work seamlessly together.
In America apartment blocks feature air conditioning as standard. In the UK this may be essential in future as global warming takes hold. So in order for a block air conditioning system to be as energy efficient as possible it needs to communicate directly with the lights, thermostats and windows in the building. That’s not possible without network infrastructure in place.
Above this, says Laura, will sit the building operating system. This means residents will be able to control all of their devices from a single app and property managers can collect building-wide data too. This data makes it possible to find ways to run blocks more efficiently and create a better resident experience. And if all this sounds a bit far-fetched, don’t forget that the 5G technology we need to make all this possible, is already here.
Finally, Laura urges block owners and managers – especially in the rented sector - to constantly ask themselves “How can we provide more things ‘as a service’?” From dog walking to wifi, residents want to live somewhere that makes their life easier. Hospitality and block management are coming together. And that won’t stop anytime soon.
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