Before we are able to grasp the latest gadget or app guaranteed to make our lives easier, technology has already changed. That fast-paced evolution is not just making its presence felt on our laptops, smartphones and tablets, but our homes as well.
To keep up with innovations, builders, renovators, suppliers and manufacturers subscribe to industry magazines and attend conferences, home shows and seminars to educate themselves on what’s new and what’s coming. Whether they’re trying to adopt more green building science for new homes or retrofit older ones, they continually look for new and innovative products and systems.
Here are just a few of the new products that emerging technologies have brought to us:
- 3D technology that manipulates the image of a home providing the homeowner or homebuyer purchasing from plans with unprecedented flexibility, bringing the home to life for them when they do not have the benefit of touring a built structure.
- Residential elevators that blend seamlessly into the home’s decor disguised with a door to match others throughout the house.
- Photovoltaic solar systems and panels that collect and convert sunlight into electricity and are either tied into the electrical grid or to provide self-sufficient electricity for the home.
- A variety of different insulation and weatherization materials that have zero ozone depletion potential, are moisture resistant, durable and energy efficient and include recycled content and absorb sound.
- All–in-one geothermal systems that provide heating through forced air and radiant in-floor hydronic applications, central air conditioning, and domestic hot water production in one convenient small unit.
- Approved RG6 coaxial cable that readies homes for digital TV, high-speed Internet and home phone.
- High-efficient wood-burning hybrid furnaces equipped with enlarged fireboxes capable of holding 76-cm (30-inch) logs providing a clean and relatively inexpensive source of heat.
- Thermostats that have bright touch screens for easy use by homeowners that default to a screen saver that complements your home decor when not in use or can be used as a digital picture frame.
- New space-saving products specifically designed for new smaller homes — combined tankless water heaters that provide both heat for the furnace as well as on demand hot water — tiny yet powerful units.
- Weatherproof roof vents that outsmart Mother Nature using internal baffles that deflect water and snow and prevent moisture from getting into the attic.
- Green drywall that actively helps clean the air by capturing formaldehyde or other aldehydes (VOCs) that safely remain within the board while providing enhanced protection against moisture and mould.
Home automation is also right on our doorsteps. Predictions for this industry are a baffling $14 billion in worldwide revenues by 2018. At the moment, cable and security companies drive this industry, but we are seeing this shift to a wider and more diverse range of companies interested in selling us new technology for all areas of the home.
Appliances are smarter than ever before with simple programs on smartphones allowing users to monitor energy rates and consumption of their fridge, stove and laundry appliances. Thermostats can connect with a home’s wireless network allowing the homeowner control from anywhere in the world; they can also display live weather alerts and forecasts. Such automation can also include programmable lighting systems and shades and even countertops are becoming high-tech, with some having wireless cell charging capability seamlessly embedded.
Imagine just placing your phone on the counter to have it charged — no worries about finding your charger!
It’s a good thing our industry strives to be innovative, as the drive to have the latest technology, or the most creative and unique products, is what today’s homebuyers and homeowners are looking for.