Buyers can be hard to please when there’s lots of competition on the market, but technology that makes a home more comfortable, efficient, secure or convenient can impress the toughest of crowds.
A smart house is a house enhanced not with gimmicks, but with tech-enabled innovations that solve life’s little annoyances or tasks we ordinarily have to perform manually. In the future, everything that can be connected to wi-fi and mobile devices will be, and it’s the homes that are ahead of the curve that will stand out from the crowd.
“One of the big macro trends in the world is that convenience is king,” says LJ Hooker Avnu head of product James Piskorz. “Think of each of the inconveniences you run into at home. These can nearly all be solved by with a fantastical application of technology.”
Home automation systems, for example, make life easier by meeting homeowner wants and needs – and even anticipating them. A smart home programmed to turn on the heat or air-conditioning to achieve a predetermined temperature in time for your return of an evening is a simple, yet effective, innovation that enhances comfort and maximises energy efficiency.
When it comes to home automation, LJ Hooker Avnu founding agent Adrian Bridges says simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. “Buyers want everything to be controlled at the touch of a button and through a very simple-to-use platform,” he says.
Increasingly, these simple-to-use platforms are accessible via smartphone apps. “Smart device capability is crucial when it comes to home automation; it can give owners everything from live feeds from their CCTV cameras to having the home warmed or cooled before arriving home ahead of their usual time.”
Bridges says the best tech platforms and home automation functions are web-based and can be updated regularly to keep up with both the changing needs of buyers and, in the case of a home being sold, for the new owners to be able to personalise the smart home down to the smallest detail.
Although homes can be smart-wired to handle and hide the most advanced security and home automation systems, a few simple additions can be just as impressive to potential buyers visiting an open-home.
According to LJ Hooker Avnu Head of Engineering Michael Tran, the addition of a Google Home or Amazon Echo Plus is a simple first step to take. These clever home assistants respond to the sound of your voice to set an alarm, play music, make a call or control connected devices in your home.
Your blinds can open on command using your voice or smartphone, for example, with the addition of a MySmartBlinds automation kit. And there’s no need to rely on your phone to check the weather, headlines and events you have lined up for the day when your smart bathroom mirror can double as a screen, delivering the information you need whilst performing mundane tasks such as shaving or brushing your teeth.
Smart plugs and smart light switches can easily be installed throughout your home, allowing you to connect lights and appliances you’d like to automate or control using your voice or mobile device.
The slimline SmartThings iHome Smart Plug, for example, can be plugged into any outlet. You can set it to turn on or off when nearby doors are opened or closed, and program it to control connected lights, thermostats, or entertainment devices according to the time of day.
Refrigerators are getting smarter too. Samsung’s Family Hub fridge has built-in cameras that reveal what’s inside at any time just by glancing at your phone – a handy helper when you’re out doing the grocery shopping. If you don’t feel like leaving the house to shop, the fridge has a smart screen on the door that allows you to shop online, and can transform into a calendar, family message board, and even a TV. Speaking of television, Samsung has also come up with a TV that looks like a work of art hanging on the wall when you’re not watching it.
Robotic vacuum cleaners have been around for a while but technology is making other chores a thing of the past, too. Lawn maintenance is easier than ever with the Husqvarna Automower, a robotic lawn mower that can tackle up to 1600 square metres while you’re at work – slopes, rough terrain and all. Keeping your grass looking its best is a snap with the Rachio 3 Smart Water System, an automated sprinkler that can be controlled from your smartphone or switched on and off based on a pre-programmed schedule or even the weather.
Keeping your pool sparkling clean can be laborious without the help of a 4WD robotic cleaner connected to your wi-fi. The sleek Polaris 9650iQ Sport can be controlled via the iAquaLink app on your phone, with advanced cleaning capabilities that make creepy crawly pool cleaners look positively vintage.
Advanced security features will not go unnoticed by a potential buyer scrutinising your home. Impress them before they walk in the door with a smart video doorbell that allows you to see who’s ringing (and hear and speak to them) from your smartphone. A vast range of advanced security systems are now available that allow homeowners to program everything from activating the lights or triggering camera recording when sensors detect motion, to unlocking the doors when the smoke alarm goes off.
Wireless home charging hubs keep your devices powered up without unsightly cords, but why stop there? Electric cars can now be charged without having to plug them in with a wireless charging station embedded into the floor of your garage. Now that’s clever.
Technology of the future
There’s no limit to the smart features you can add to your home – nor the innovations that are destined to land on our doorsteps next.
“If we were to look far into the future, houses will be a luxury and home could be anywhere people want it to be,” Tran says. “People may be able to ‘plug’ themselves into a virtual world, making it look like they live in a forest or on top of Mount Everest if they choose.”
Tran foresees most home appliances and data being centralised and controlled through nano-tech implants or wearable technology and, once artificial intelligence comes into the mix, “the list of possibilities is endless”.
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