Innovation


Future living: the best smart home technology of 2020.

10 February 2020

Innovation


Future living: the best smart home technology of 2020.

10 February 2020

Someone holding a mobile phone to control smart devices in their kitchen

Smart homes will become even more environmentally-friendly and convenient in 2020. Image: iStock.
 

Over the next decade, our homes will become safer, greener and even more self-sufficient thanks to advances in smart technology.

It’s already possible to automate your whole routine with devices that are connected to a smart home hub like Amazon Echo. You can wake up gently to an artificial sunrise, turn on your coffee machine without getting out of bed and set your ideal room temperature all from the convenience of a mobile app. You can even switch off forgotten appliances on the run by using the in-car system in your Mercedes.

But with the average Australian household expected to own 18 smart devices by 2023, it’s clear we’re about to see a boom in smart living innovations.

This was especially apparent at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January, where tech companies competed to reveal the most exciting new and soon-to-be released devices. So, what products should you be looking out for in 2020?

Going greener

There’s no doubt that smart homes allow us to lead more sustainable lifestyles. Smart thermometers, for example, can reduce a home’s energy consumption from 20 to 30%, because they heat and cool rooms incrementally and prevent frequent adjustments to the temperature.

While most models allow users to control a home's temperature remotely or set heating and cooling on a schedule, there are more advanced models out there that actually adapt to the user’s behaviour. One to watch is the voice controlled Ecobee Smart Thermostat, which senses whether or not someone is in a room and adjusts the temperature there only, conserving energy considerably.

But one of the most exciting releases of the year is undoubtedly Honeywell’s M5 Smart Thermostat, which debuted to a lot of fanfare at CES. Available later in 2020, the device will be able to check air quality, water leaks, energy usage and security in addition to temperature, making it a fully integrated home monitoring system. If it delivers on those promises, it could be a game-changing energy-saving device.

The solution to electric car charging


Not only are we looking for greener living options in the home, we’re also looking for carbon neutral travel options. Electric car sales tripled in Australia last year as drivers sought out more proactive ways to tackle climate change, though confusion about access to charging stations is holding many motorists back from making the switch.

This is where residential car charging stations come in. These charging stations are compatible with all-electric vehicles, including the Mercedes Benz EQC, and allow owners to charge their vehicles from home overnight. Many, like the Mercedes-Benz Wallbox, also have smart functions that allow owners to monitor their energy consumption and control the charging session from a mobile app – taking any worry out of the process.

Lights on


LED lighting company Nanoleaf wins best smart device purely from a fun perspective. The brand is best known for the Nanoleaf Canvas, decorative light panels that stick to your walls and respond to touch or music with flashes of light and different colours. The panels can also be used as a button to control Apple’s HomeKit connected devices.
 

Hexagonal light panels fixed to a wall over a computer desk

Nanoleaf Canvas light panels can be arranged in any configuration, making them both a smart device and a design feature. Image: Nanoleaf.
 

Nanoleaf announced at CES that it will be releasing a new hexagonal shape later this year, as well as a Learning Series lighting system in early 2021, which will sense and anticipate your needs, so you don’t even need to manually control your lights anymore. Let’s see if this is the start of an interesting new lighting design trend.

The ultimate safety feature


In what could be the most exciting smart home innovation of the year, Japanese home-builder Sekisui House recently unveiled a world-first – an in-home early detection network (HED-Net) that automatically calls an ambulance when it senses that someone in the home has had a health emergency.

A woman with a microphone standing in front of a bed

Tech fans got their first glimpse of Sekisui House’s HED-Net concept at CES in January. Image: Sekisui House.
 

The system will constantly monitor residents’ vitals and alert an emergency call centre if there is a noticeable change, for example if a resident has had a stroke. The operator will then perform a safety check by speaking to the resident through the home’s speaker and call an ambulance if there is a problem.

Sekisui House will be testing the HED-Net Japan in 2020, so don't expect to see it in the Australian market quite just yet. But the technology’s life-saving potential proves that the best is yet to come for the smart homes of the future.

By Emily Tatti