I’m sure I wasn’t the only person who, in the 1980s, wondered why I would need a personal computer in my home, but then I grew up before the digital age. My first computer was a Commodore 64, and after a bit of naffing about (playing games and trying to learn ‘how to program’), the box soon began to gather dust at the bottom of the wardrobe. So, might I be forgiven for not knowing why, in 2017, I might need a smart home?
Now one company is offering the services of a smart home surveyor, who will come along to assess what products and services would be most suitable in my home … and helpfully explain what everything does.
According to Barclays, only 22% of the UK’s homeowners surveyed in 2017 said that they had heard of smart home technology but didn’t know what it meant. Smart home technologies have been creeping into our homes for years although, according to a survey carried out by electrical retailer AO.com, Londoners are more likely to welcome smart technology into their homes than those living in East Anglia and the East Midlands. And while 90% of UK households are now on broadband, only 19% say they are likely to buy or use connected home technology in the next five years.
While smart heating, security, lighting and virtual digital assistants are readily available via your smartphone, only 13% of households say they currently use it.
The young, affluent and ‘tech savvy’ are leading the way, with those who have grown up with smartphones and mobile devices finding it difficult to live without technology. In contrast, 46% of the older generation will only go online when they have a specific reason to do so.
So here I am in 2017, a reformed dinosaur who now uses a smartphone, PC and broadband, looking at what smart technology I might (in reality) not be able to do without in the future.
Smart Doorbells – No more missed callers. Ding is a doorbell with combined chime and app that turns your phone into an intercom – allowing you to talk to a caller at the door from anywhere.
Robot Vacuum Cleaners – Many of the big household names are producing them, including Hoover, Samsung, Miele, Dyson, Electrolux, iRobot and LG. Priced from around £250, the devices can be programmed to vacuum on set days and times. iRobot also offers a mopping robot which vacuums and polishes tiled floors at the same time.
Robot Lawn Mowers – John Deere, Honda, Robomow, Bosch, Flymo, Hysqvarna, Friendly Robotics and others are manufacturing battery-run robot lawnmowers that are even equipped with an anti-theft system (albeit a bit pricey, at £500 plus).
Robot Gutter Cleaner – Stand well back – iRobot’s Looj is a tank-tracked device operated via a remote control which cleans gutters, flicking debris out and onto the ground.
And on my wishlist?
Smart Iron – Siemens Dressman was introduced to iron shirts using hot air. The device wasn’t popular but I am ever hopeful that someone will produce something more acceptable. Even better – a machine that takes my dirty laundry and returns a neatly folded pile of freshly pressed laundry.
And in the aforementioned category of available devices that I can’t envisage ever needing?
Smart Alarm Clock – The Nanda Clocky is the answer if your alarm clock fails to get you out of bed. You have one chance to ‘snooze’ before the robot drives away, forcing the user to find it in order to turn the alarm off.
Cat Litter Cleaner – The Litter-Robot is a device for sifting cat litter, removing clumps automatically before storing them in a bag.
Don’t knock it – once, there was novelty of ‘the microwave oven’ (and along with it the excitement of near-instant ‘nuked’ food). How many households today don’t have one?