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Smart Homes: The New Standard Of Living In a Post-Pandemic World While the pandemic has been an unprecedented challenge, it has also given us a lot of insights into the shortcomings of past practices

By Sanchit Gaurav

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The rapid surge of IoT devices had created a massive buzz about "smart homes' and "smart cities' in India, even before the pandemic struck. In the world of real estate, and home construction, the "new normal' is the focus on integration of social distancing, and technology-driven construction processes. An even bigger change has come in the market courtesy of a complete transformation of customer demands and expectations from the future homes. Whether it is the functionality, materiality or the security of the house, everything is being redefined. Architects, construction experts and designers need to get back to the drawing board and make "smart homes' the new norm. The paradigm shift is already visible in the commercial sector.

The correct approach to plan for the future is to think constructively. While the pandemic has been an unprecedented challenge, it has also given us a lot of insights into the shortcomings of past practices. For instance, the greater usage of technology in smart homes is now expediting the effectiveness and the efficiency of various processes. Automation of various regular building functions has now created a scenario where we can eliminate a number of touch-points by eliminating the need for switches to switch on or off any appliances or systems such as lighting and HVAC etc.

The luxurious and high end residential properties had already created benchmarks of automation. Tools and technologies such as motion sensor controlled lighting and appliances as well as voice operated smart home systems had been around well before the virus arrived on the scene. "Smart home' technologies are no longer considered a luxury but as essential elements of a modern home. In fact, the Internet of Things ecosystem implies that the whole world becomes an interconnected ecosystem of devices blurring the boundaries between locations. We have already seen glimpses of such a seamless integration in our smart devices with seamless and automatic transition across them. In the "new normal', the smart homes we build will be able to integrate almost all smart devices, home appliances and functions within. The "smart home' is going to be as normal in the future as "electrified home' became in the previous century.

In this regard, your off-premises machines such as the IoT embedded cars will also become an extension of your home. The on-board smart AI assistants in the car will work in sync with the smart home systems and it is no longer science fiction to think that your home cooling or heating system gets activated as soon as your car enters the neighbourhood. This can ensure that you enjoy ambient temperatures whether in office, in car or as soon as you step in.

Security integration in smart homes will necessitate an altogether new level of integration. It is no longer about the CCTVs and push button electronic locks. The smart homes will have access control technologies such as RFID/smart cards or retina scanners as standardized security elements. The security staff at the entrance of homes or residential complexes will not need to come into proximity with a visitor as there would be a safety screen separating them. At an individual house level, you can anticipate integration of smart temperature scanners at the entrance which will grant access only to those whose body temperature reading is normal. Automatic perimeter sensors, remotely controlled night-vision cameras and various other smart security features are going to be the standard functions. Most vehicles will be electrically smart within the next few years, and entertainment will also be dominated by OTT platforms instead of the regular TV networks. Apartment blocks will have common charging points for vehicles in the parking lots, and the same will need to be provided in the garage at home.

Hence, while building the "smart homes' for the future, the home construction companies now need to focus on all these features. While the basic expectations of a home still remain "security', "comfort' and "privacy', the delivery mechanisms and parameters need to be "smart'. That's the only way to remain relevant in the "smart world' of the future!

Sanchit Gaurav

CEO and Founder, Housejoy

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