When the relevant history books are being written, the current decade will be remembered for ushering in an age of wireless communications. From near-field communication (NFC) to the cloud, from wireless peripherals to the Internet of Things (IoT), our homes and workplaces have seen unprecedented technological change.
It’s hard to imagine what someone in 2010 would have made of 4K movies being seamlessly streamed over 5G, or smart doorbells establishing a live video link to a smartphone when they detect movement. As we stand on the cusp of another new decade, predicting what the 2020s have in store should help to determine how the smart home of 2030 may look…
Futurology is a notoriously inexact science, but we can already have a guess at some of the technologies likely to populate the smart home of 2030. A recent survey revealed that 70 per cent of Britons expect new houses to be kitted out with smart technology as standard by then. Anticipated fixtures and fittings include virtual assistants, and remote-control lighting and heating. Not only will these utilities identify homeowners and visitors using biometrics, but they’ll also be able to identify their own faults and request repairs or maintenance.
Communications should underpin the smart home of 2030, and our internet connections are likely to be transformed by evolving technologies such as LiFi. LED spotlights (installed everywhere from skirting board kickplates to extractor hood lamps) flicker on and off thousands of times a second. In doing so, they create local networks of ultra-high-speed internet connectivity, distributing data at speeds existing wifi networks couldn’t match. LiFi is also far more secure since solid objects like walls block its signals. In addition, data would be transmitted across a light spectrum 2,600 times larger than the congested RF spectrum harnessed by 4G and wifi.
Cable and wireless
Technological development is often inspired by convenience, and the smart home of 2030 will make life much easier for its occupants. Robotic vacuum cleaners could endlessly trundle around purifying the air and removing dirt, using power sourced through the air from base chargers. These could support wireless charging for most electronic devices, abolishing the tyranny of incompatible charging cables and overloaded plug adaptors. This will become increasingly significant as more people work from home, reducing congestion and diminishing the need to have energy-guzzling offices lying empty most of the time. Solar panels are already being fitted as standard to many new homes, and this rollout will have gathered pace by 2030.
Space efficiency becomes more important as populations expand, leading to innovations like 8K projector screens and wall-mounted computers controlled through floating virtual keyboards. Software and documents will be stored in the cloud, rather than on individual hard drives. Photochromic windows would remove the need for bulky blinds or curtains, while their temperature-regulating properties should reduce reliance on fossil-fuel heating systems. Underfloor heating will help to abolish today’s bulky, unresponsive and wasteful radiators, and automated lighting would add brightness and character to the darkest north-facing boxroom.
One area that may not see radical change, however, is the virtual assistant. We’re one security breach away from losing faith in these silent witnesses, especially given the lack of legal and ethical regulation over how they use and harvest our data. In ten years’ time, consumers may look back on the social media age with amazement, wondering why so much sensitive personal information was surrendered voluntarily. By 2030, digital security will have improved (and changed) how we identify ourselves, stay safe while shopping online, and perform other activities yet to be developed…