How is Technology Affecting the Way we Live at Home?
This question from eLocal.com was asked of several expert home remodelers, and I found the responses insightful and thought provoking. Here are some of the comments that caught my attention [edited]. Pay particular attention to the last comment.
Home technology is becoming much more cost-effective for middle class households. Years ago, systems like home automation were reserved for high-end renovations and home construction. With recent innovations such as smart phones and the iPad, wireless devices can be tied into lower cost automation systems for a similar level of control. In the past few years as energy prices have risen, we have seen many homeowners wanting to regulate their lighting and HVAC with automation, cutting their emissions and monthly bill.
Moving into the future, I expect technology to continue becoming more accessible to “everyday people.” Also, I expect to see growth in the systems used to monitor energy usage, as well as systems used to monitor older adults aging in place, especially as baby boomers retire.
Peter L. Mosca, Realtor says:
I can sum up this answer in two letters: CE. No, not continuing education but consumer electronics. Americans love toys, gadgets and gizmos. Americans also love to save money, too. It’s the combination of these two factors that will impact how technology will affect the way we live at home. Even with most Americans working their collective way through challenging economic times, the demand for home technologies continues. The difference will be that the toys, gadgets and gizmos being purchased today mainly for fun and entertainment will be replaced by systems for managing, monitoring and improving the home’s aesthetic, user productivity and convenience for those who live within the four walls. Best of all these new technologies, whether do-it-yourself solutions or professionally installed, will give the individual homeowner control. The control will come from programmable sensors to structured wiring so the home will act as the homeowner sees fit, whether it be lighting, heating and cooling, and safety strategies. Technology’s promise, therefore, will be to make our homes more convenient, more secure and more energy efficient.
Melissa Galt, Interior Designer says:
I find that many clients are intrigued by the bells and whistles available but many are also realistic about the potential learning curve they face in implementation. There is also a significant trend to simpler living, less technology based, greener, and more physical in many ways. While technology can be a big plus allowing us to turn on our tubs and our ovens from out cars miles away, monitor security, and check in on family, it also creates another barrier to face to face and even voice to voice communication. It removes the heart and art of homemade and turns it into tech created. And let’s remember that technology is great when it works, but we all know what happens when it doesn’t and the frustration that ensues. It’s about balance and sometimes simpler with the human touch is the best way to make a house a true home.
I believe there are the four C’s of technology impacting the way we live in our homes: conservation, connectivity, consolidation, and control.
- Conservation goes beyond selecting a high efficiency toilet or EnergyStar rated appliance. It requires new technologies to better manage the finite resources that we have available to us including water, natural gas and energy in our homes. The focus will be on products, systems and resources that will better manage our usage or even produce the resources that we are consuming in our homes.
- Connectivity is about devices and gadgets that are allowing us to stay connected to each other and our homes. Just five years ago home automation was only attainable by a few; now lighting, security and electrical control systems are common place. Software is available so that our mobile devices are integrated with our home management systems so we can stay connected while we are away from our home.
- Consolidation is about reduced consumption and home sizes; but it fast becoming about technology designed to determine our usage patterns. For water consumption, we anticipate delivery systems that will allow for pulses or doses of water versus streaming full on water supply.
- Control: Hopefully all of the new technological advances are not adding more clutter in our lives, but allowing us to control and manage our homes. We are now designing “central command areas” in homes. Hidden areas designated to hold and charge our devices – consider energy savings electrical panels that can detect if a device is fully charged versus continually drawing electrical current.
[The list might also include Comfort, Convenience, Entertainment, and Security.]
Chantay Clark, Los Angeles Realtor says:
Some of the most interesting tech takeovers I’ve seen are:
- Guests pulling into driveways, being directed by a un-seen valet
- The system knew who I was and greeted me by name
- The door locked after I walked out of it
- The pool cover automatically closed when the weather altered
If you are in business, you will never be able to compete without a working knowledge of the most current technological advances. While one Realtor is waiting for a report to come back from title, another one can access it in seconds. You can use social media to notify thousands of individuals a home is for sale in a matter of moments. Forgot to lock the house, you can access a code from your phone and whoa. Technology has truly changed the way we all do business.
Take a look at the new Kohler NUMI toilet. Priced at over $6k, it glows, plays music, and warms your feet. If technology is affecting out homes and the way we live, it means that something is wrong. Proper integration should be seamless and non-intrusive, and I don’t think we’re at the point where this is happening just yet. But, with companies racing to improve the human interface aspects of personal computing devices such as smartphones and tablets, we’re bound to see improvements soon. Surprisingly, the most creative technological upgrades I have seen were done by DIYers and hobbyists.
Steve Crossland – Austin Realtor says:
Technology affects how we live at home by keeping us inside the home longer and, in a way, making us prisoners of our own technology addictions. Kids are not outside riding bikes, but are inside on computers and handheld devices. None of our kids will ever have a land-line phone, and most will talk on their cell phones a lot less than they text.
Our dependency will grow. “Honey, have you seen my iPhone 6, I need to open the refrigerator”. You won’t have a doorbell because location technology will send you a text, tweet and Facebook message when your “friend breeches the boundary of your property line.
Then, one fateful day in the future, everything will change. A refrigerator will say “No. I’m sorry Steve, but you’ve exceeded your calorie limit for today. Return the Dr. Pepper to its place. This is your last warning before Corrective Action Protocol R37.8 is implemented”.
Yes, some day it will all be wired up, controlling everything we do, and disobedience will be futile. The machines will take over and we all become slaves to our homes, automobiles and display screens.
Christine Schwalm, Interior Designer says:
I think homeowners are still trying to figure out the balance with technology in their lives. We love the ease but there’s also a sense of intrusion (televisions that now show Facebook news feed or incoming calls). We have a generation coming now who is comfortable giving up their personal information in exchange for this ease, but what is the real cost? Those refrigerators that can monitor your food in an effort to streamline your life, can that information be shared with food corporations, insurance companies or the government?
One thing I have noticed, people tend to expect more from the technology they invest in–their computer also serves as their television programming, their touchpad is a computer, and even the fridge serves more than one purpose by have a filtered water option. Because the government wants to know who isn’t getting their 8 glasses?
Heather Higgins @ Higgins Design Studio says:
The greatest influence shaping the interiors of living our spaces today is the incorporation of ever-changing communication and AV technology. It influences what is required to house it, power it, the layout and the lighting of a space. It is important for designers, to keep an eye on technological advances. As furnishings are selected, consideration must be given to how technology might change in the future, so that the pieces we select will continue to be functional as equipment is updated.
[Heather makes a good point. Remember when new homes were built with a big hole in the family room wall for a 35” direct-view TV? We moved quickly to flat panel TVs that can hang on the wall (plasma, LCD & LED), but how many homes even have a power source up there? And is there an Ethernet port for Internet TV?]
Debra Greene, PhD says:
I think it might be interesting to look at the negative effects of technology in our homes. It can be argued that technology has affected our homes by making them unsafe. These new technologies disguise themselves as helpful when really they could be harmful. Our homes are being infiltrated by transformers, ballasts, wireless signals, ambient frequencies and dirty electricity. The modern home has become a nest of toxic electropollution.
Electromagnetic radiation increased 1,000,000,000,000,000 times from 2005-2007. This is a staggering number. If these invasive signals were visible people would run from their homes. But we can’t see them and what we can’t see is hurting us. Household electromagnetic radiation has been linked to compromised immune systems, compromised DNA, and compromised brain functioning.
I hired a Master Electrician to come into my home with instruments to test various appliances in my home. The results were shocking. I videotaped the whole thing. You can watch it here: http://www.YourEnergyMatters.com/radiation.asp. I would advise any homeowner to hire a professional to check for the radiation in your home and purchase products that are safe for you and your family.
[I recommend watching the two videos and am thinking about how to write about this topic without coming across too negative, because many tech solutions for home healthcare rely on electricity and wireless signals, and we must trade off the benefits versus risks. Microwave ovens are a good example. They use radio frequencies of 2.4 GHZ to heat meat since that’s a natural harmonic that vibrates water molecules, and the vibration is what causes the heat. The FCC set aside the 2.4 GHz band as license-free spectrum, so Wi-Fi and Bluetooth both use that frequency – the same frequency used by microwave ovens. The long term effects of such electromagnetic radiation are still unknown, but public concern is on the rise, and these videos raise important health concerns.]
This is the sort of online discussion that I want to see happen on Modern Health Talk. We’re not quite there yet but are on our way, already getting international notice. A recent comment (to Health Care Comes Home: The Human Factors) came from CareAtHomeToday in the UK.