A new report from Vodafone, authored by a panel of industry leaders and academics, has predicted the home-living trends of the future. It forecasts that pet-sitting robots, drones that call your children for dinner, click and deliver homes, and smart glasses with the ability to personalise your surroundings, will all be part of our lives by 2041.
While the role of the home is constantly changing, industry expert Piers Taylor cites the pandemic as a key driver in accelerating this change: “Overnight, and quicker than any other change in history, we radically altered what we do in our domestic spaces following the outbreak of the pandemic. Looking ahead to the next 20 years, we can expect to see vast differences, not only in the way our houses look and feel, but in the way we are connected through our homes, with everything we do being assisted by digital technology.”
The Homes of the Future report is supported by new research, commissioned by Vodafone, which found more than a third (39%) of Brits say that the experience of lockdown has changed their attitude towards their home and the way it should function. Connectivity is set to become the most important factor in creating the homes and communities of the future. Ben Wood, leading tech analyst, predicts up to a tenfold increase in home bandwidth speeds by 2041, reaching 10 gigabits per second.
Max Taylor, Consumer Director, Vodafone UK, said: “The pandemic has changed the way we use our homes and will have a lasting impact. And the biggest changes will be powered by connectivity, making spaces more flexible, more energy efficient, and giving us new ways of working from home. Reliable broadband is already essential today and will be the key to the homes of the future.
The report, authored by a team of industry leaders and academics; leading UK architect and TV presenter, Piers Taylor; the Royal Institute of British Architects’ first Vice President for Research, Flora Samuels; and leading tech analyst at CCS Insight, Ben Wood, forecasts that by 2041 connected living will be even more important for UK households:
Pet-caring robots: Robots, powered by home broadband, will play a part in keeping our furry friends company, with the ability to entertain, feed and provide companionship when owners are not at home.
Drones: Drones will be an ever-present helper for us, from passing messages to others (telling children that dinner is ready) to monitoring the temperature and air quality throughout the whole house to ensure a healthy, comfortable and energy efficient environment.
Personalised surroundings: Each family member will use smart glasses to arrange the space around them, with their own choice of artwork, virtual clocks and windows into different worlds.
No more switches: Fixtures, furniture, lighting and heating will automatically and intelligently adapt to the household’s learned preferences.
Home working: Meetings will be revolutionised from the video calls of today as home workers are able to collaborate with colleagues who are projected as holograms onto virtual seats, from anywhere in the world.
Smart home ecosystems: Voice-operated virtual assistants will keep us healthy and efficient, tracking the food we buy, and bringing it together with health measurement data from linked fitness tech.
Tech-enabled care: Care and health in the home will be a huge feature in the coming years. Innovations will feature in the very fabric of the house – there will be heat sensors in floors to recognise if someone has fallen and notify carers, as well as movement detectors and reminders to take medication.
Underground greenhouses: Smart tech will be adopted by households to keep plants healthy in the dark, allowing for food to be grown underground to maximise space.
The way we purchase homes and the importance of communities will also rapidly evolve:
Click-and-deliver homes: Building homes will be like real life SimCity, with designs being made online and ordered from the comfort of sofas and craned into sites.
Community dashboards: Data from smart-home tech will feed into ‘data dashboards’ for homes meaning decision makers can plan for a better future for the community.
Shared security: Neighbours will be able to pool their digital resources, including shared access to street cameras, providing peace of mind for the whole community.
The report’s study of 2,000 British adults revealed that over one in five (21%) feel that a lack of space in the home is one of their main frustrations, and as such, over two thirds (68%) feel that using all corners of the home is important.
The research also highlights a shift from open plan living and the desire for moveable partition walls, with four-in-10 (41%) of those regretting previous home improvements – saying they wish they had not removed a wall to create open plan living.
While the pandemic has certainly changed our feelings towards the functionality of homes, the findings also uncovered how households have already started to adapt to the future of home technology and connectivity. Almost nine-in-10 (85%) Brits said strong broadband in all four corners of the home is vital, one-in-eight (13%) purchased a smart speaker in the last year, and another 12% also purchased smart lighting for their homes.