Homes of the future: 8 of the biggest changes you’ll see by 2030
From the Oracle at Delphi to Nostradamus, humans have always strived to predict the future. While the humanoid replicants of Blade Runner and the self-tying bootlaces of Back to the Future II might not have arrived just yet, other predictions – driverless cars, space travel – have been closer to the mark.
As society adapts to the threat of the coronavirus pandemic and the effects of climate change, technology will play an increasingly large part in our lives, both at work, and – more importantly – in our homes.
How will societal, technological, and environmental factors affect us over the next decade and what might these factors mean for the homes of the future and the way we live in them?
1. The return of the “jib door”
Popular during the Georgian period, the jib door – a door placed flush to the wall and designed to be “hidden” – is predicted to make an unlikely comeback. Currently found in stately homes throughout the country, as well as in Buckingham Palace’s White Drawing Room, you might soon have one too.
After a year of lockdowns, and living, working, and homeschooling in the same space, we’ll all be looking for peace and tranquillity in the decade to come.
Quiet spaces off a main communal living area, close by but secluded and even hidden, will form a part of many people’s interior design wish lists.
2. Augmented reality makeovers
The BBC’s Your Home Made Perfect uses Virtual Reality (VR) to show participants what their home could look like after an interior design makeover. Soon, we could be making use of similar technology.
Augmented Reality (AR) will allow us to place virtual items in our homes before we commit. Not sure if the colour of the new sofa will clash with your walls? Worried the new TV will dominate the room?
AR will allow us to try before we buy, albeit virtually. It is a technology that exists already, but as it improves it will become the norm for all our household purchases.
3. Hands-free bathrooms
The coronavirus pandemic will help to accelerate the production and integration of technology designed to improve cleanliness. This will, in turn, help to minimise the spread of disease.
Bathrooms are the first area likely to go (largely) hands-free as tech already available becomes the norm in all our homes.
Expect to see sensor-operated lights, taps, and flushes as the decade unfolds.
4. Integrated tech
Technology will play a larger part in the way we run our homes, while it becomes even more invisible.
Smart speakers from the likes of Google, Apple, and Amazon can already be found in many of our homes but as their capabilities increase, they will become integral to daily life. At the same time, we will see a move toward elegant designs that hide the technology in our homes, creating light-filtered and sensor-controlled natural spaces filled with timber, plants, and running water.
5. Assisted-living with tech
The increase in technology will particularly benefit those in sheltered housing or assisted living.
The technology could monitor an inhabitant’s health and wellbeing through motion sensors, air filters, and other non-invasive tech. It would then be able to react to its findings using machine learning and Artificial Intelligence to open a window, turn up the heating, or request medical assistance.
Increased technology could also be used to help the vulnerable maintain their independence for longer.
6. Decorative solar panels
As we look to tackle climate change, renewable energy will become increasingly important. The solar panels of the past, usually large and clunky, have become much smaller over time.
Solar panels are now lightweight, flexible, and in some cases, “peel and stick.” As the technology continues to improve, we’ll soon be using them not only to power our homes, but to adorn and decorate them too.
7. Smart energy
We can already control our heating from our mobile phones but technology, along with increased energy-efficiency, could increase the level of automatic energy-saving our homes can do on our behalf.
Once solar-powered homes become the norm, integrated smart tech will be able to choose when and how it uses our home’s energy, heating and storing water while the sun is shining or only running certain appliances when energy is cheap. Turning off power automatically will save us money while meaning we no longer need to worry about whether we’ve turned the lights off.
These systems of the future will have their work cut out for them.
Learning to adapt to winter and summer conditions within a home is one thing, but the unsettled weather that could result from global warming in the future will mean systems having to cope with wintry days in summer and unseasonably hot winter days. Systems will need to learn and adapt.
8. The return of the prefab
As focus grows on our home’s energy efficiency, we could see a return to the prefabricated buildings already in wide use in Europe and Japan.
Building prefabricated homes in a factory setting might allow for closer adherence to energy-saving specifications, making for a more efficient end product.
Prefabricated needn’t mean “off-the-shelf” though; homes could be comprised of prefabricated components chosen and situated by the homeowner. This will create individual homes that fit around our lives, while also being better for the environment.
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