Smarter home technology today
By Barbara Schmidt
How we think about our home environments has changed dramatically in the past few months, and now our attention is squarely focused on wellness and staying connected.
Most product advancements take years of development, so that means the wellness trend has been in the works for a while. Smart technology has been at the forefront of product introductions at trade shows and various showrooms around the world for years. Now, we will have to find those advancements through our connections and the media due to all the event cancellations. Industry sources and editorials have new importance and meaning for all of us.
When I visited the national Kitchen and Bath Show (KBIS) and the International Builders’ Show (IBS) in January 2020, I saw a number of new product trends. Overall, there is a huge trend in Biomimicry – the creation of materials, structures, and systems that are modeled on biological entities and processes. When the environment we live in becomes stressful, we tend to focus on home and nature themes, as we are doing now.
The second big trend is the focus on wellness in the home. New product advancements will continue to enhance our senses through wellbeing and here are a few recent introductions that will help us today:
The Air We Breathe and the Light We See
As time passes we’ve seen more and more walls of homes turn into large format glass doors and windows. With just about every manufacturer, the walls of glass have gotten larger and larger.
In January, I was able to stand under a new skylight. The window sash lifts up like the top of a box with the use of two motors. This allows the screen to be contained between the sash and frame which is completely out of sight. It also allows better air flow and this helps us bring in fresh air.
What is smart about this technology is multi-fold. The skylight can adjust LED lighting to match the ambient light outside thereby blending the exterior and interior experience naturally. Imagine your inside lighting cued by the sunrise and sunset. It’s like nature’s dimmer switch in your home.
The skylight also knows when to close with inclement weather and can be adjusted with a mobile app or bluetooth-enabled wall switches. By creating natural light biomimicry, the home becomes more of a living entity without the hard stop of a four-walled enclosure.
The Water We Drink
As water supplies become more scarce, we look for technologies to cut water waste and to create more opportunities for fresh water. Especially now, when so much water is being used now to wash hands, we need to focus even more on water management.
Several manufacturers are bringing new technology to the market helping homeowners with water creation and management. First, imagine having an enclosed unit that would pull moisture of the air and purify it for drinking? It’s here, and although it’s more on the expensive side, it does exist in countertop versions at a lower cost. Instead of buying water, we can harvest it ourselves and that can save packaging and transport costs of all those water jugs.
What’s smart about the free standing unit is that its technology can pull up to 30 liters of water a day from the air and purify the water and air in the process. It just needs electricity to operate and can dispense hot or cold water which is easy for renters and homeowners alike.
Another product that is coming to market now is a voice activated faucet that can dispense measured amounts of water. From one tablespoon up to 15 gallons, this faucet is so smart that it knows when you are standing by ready to dispense and will give you the exact temperature you desire.
Sure this seems simple, but how much water do we waste when we are trying to fill a measuring spoon or cup exactly? It turns out that we waste a lot of water when we are trying to get to the desired temperature. We let the water run while we wait.
What if you could ask for the exact right amount of water at the exactly perfect temperature for a baby bottle? That’s what is smart about this technology–you can preset unlimited temperature and measure commands from your smartphone.
The Food We Eat
All of sudden going to the grocery store multiple times a week isn’t possible. What if you could have your own garden at home? Several companies have introduced indoor gardens with grow lights and constant water sources. Most of them are smaller and table top versions although a few can hang on the wall.
At KBIS/IBS I saw a refrigerator sized indoor garden with up to 64 planters for a variety of herbs. Priced similarly to a luxury refrigerator, it’s the first one of its kind that can be installed with cabinetry. Basically it’s a fully enclosed vertical garden that can be permanently installed in your kitchen or pantry. Of course the operation and some of the maintenance is Wi-Fi accessible from any remote PC, smartphone or tablet.
I’m sure we will be seeing more digitally-maintained indoor gardens as time goes on. Our desire for fresh healthy food has only grown by the virus outbreak.
Barbara Schmidt is a nationally published Interior Designer and Marketing Expert known for her authentic storytelling about spaces, places and trends @studiobstyle.com