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Automation, AI, smart homes, smart builds – The ‘Internet of Things’. All words on every tech-ready homeowner’s hit list. In theory, the dream is a solution that controls lighting, climate, entertainment, access and security. But with retail gadgetry on the rise, homeowners are increasingly opting to try one feature at a time, only to find their lighting control system isn’t compatible with the security system they want to install next.
Consumers today are filling their homes with more products, their phones with more apps and their calendars with more time-wasting manual automation operation. With multiple systems and mechanisms, the abundant options of automation inside a single home are running the risk of overcomplicating or – worse – dumbing down smart technology. In its essence, surely the idea was to spend less time pulling levers and pressing buttons, and more time living and enjoying down time?
Integrated automation expert Mark West from HomeSYS says smart homes have been getting a lot of attention thanks to voice control devices, so the level of awareness about this technology is becoming more prevalent, but he has seen many homeowners get stuck in a tangle of incompatible systems.
‘There are plenty of devices out there at the moment that allow you to individually control certain aspects of the home, but the integration of those devices is poor and then you end up with multiple systems,’ Mark explains. ‘It doesn’t take long before those systems become orphan systems, and you’ve purchased something that has limited use and no future scalability.’
The answer might just be sophisticated integration, a personalised solution that can be adjusted to suit the group living under one unified roof and change as that home’s needs change. Mark says if builders are specifying smart home automation to their clients they should consider a system that has integration both for today and for the future.
‘This may be difficult at first [to wrap your head around], and if you were to start with a smart front door lock it’s very easy to pick the wrong product and end up with a dead end,’ he says. ‘But if you pick a door lock that’s integrated or part of an integrated system, then you [or the client] can later add security cameras, lighting, blinds, window controls and so on.’
Should new home buyers, however, expect their builder to be an expert in this aspect of the home’s function? Perhaps, perhaps not, but savvy business owners will recognise there’s an advantage in getting at the forefront of the emerging technology as it becomes the norm in new and renovated builds.
‘New home buyers, and certainly apartment buyers, are looking for smart automation and are willing to pay extra for it,’ Mark says. ‘That is of direct benefit to builders if they are able to sell it on as a feature.
‘The cost has also come down significantly, so while traditional automation systems were wired – meaning they weren’t retrospective and they were capital-intensive for new builds – that’s no longer the case.’