“Ask it questions. Tell it to do things. And with support for multiple users, it can distinguish your voice from others in your home so you get a more personalised experience.”

Sounds like an excerpt from one of those Hollywood blockbusters of AI / Automata fame, right?

Well, it’s actually a tagline from an ad for Google Home which is of course the ‘next big thing’ in home technology and therefore another key consideration for anyone in the market for custom designed homes.

Million dollar homes in the luxury home market are the ultimate target for purveyors of all things smart and connected. And there are plenty of options available in the market. Aside from Google, major players such as Amazon, Apple, and many more, have this year jumped on the bandwagon with voice activated devices that make living in luxury that little bit easier. Need to tweak the temperature of your living room or swimming pool? Need a practical life conundrum answered? All of this and much more is possible.

Smart and connected

Indeed, according to a study by research firm Telsyte, the market for devices related to the Internet of Things is expected to be worth $4.7 billion within the next four years, with more than 40 per cent of Australian households already possessing at least one IoT device, while the average Australian home currently houses about 14 different internet connected devices.

A number of businesses in the window furnishings space are responding to growing demand.

“The benefits of home automation technology allow us to create world class systems that will constantly adapt to the modern lifestyle,” says one expert in the field of technology in modern home designs.

“Apart from already providing the tools for a connected home, the next exciting step is to integrate numerous functions into IoT smart home hubs, making home automation an affordable solution for everyone. Once you can utilise The Internet of Things, the opportunities are endless.”

Homeowners and suppliers in this space are no longer solely dependent on automating household appliances via systems either hardwired or on devices that communicate in silos with products manufactured by a single supplier. The connected home is now moving towards taking full advantage of the IoT, where cloud connectivity can enable household devices operating on different wireless technologies, to work together seamlessly. These devices can coexist allowing conditional chains of events to occur. Examples are; your window coverings or external shades could move automatically if you’re on holiday based on a holiday tag in your calendar. Instead of using timers, weather apps can perform this function based on sunrise or sunset.

One commentator confirmed that one of the most compelling aspects of these developments is that clients for custom designed homes don’t necessarily have to be ‘tech-savvy’ to do this. Additionally, energy efficiency, convenience and comfort are also top-of-mind for end-users, meaning solar powered automation also looks set to be an important new frontier going forward.

Smart and connected

“Smart devices are called that for a reason; they understand humans,” says another commentator. “They understand our lives and make the little, mundane things like banking, scheduling appointments and texting effortless. With Smartphone ownership now at 84% in Australia, they are an integral part of our lives, and with the 2G network shutting down, everyone who owns a mobile, owns a smart phone. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the next big thing in consumer technology trends, and users are demanding their environments to be tailored to them, at all times, with minimal effort. The growth of connected televisions, where users can access the internet through their TVs, coupled with the increasing popularity of streaming entertainment, means that users have control of what they watch and when they watch it. The same desire for control applies to lighting, heating, music – anything that makes the home perfect for the homeowner. Google Home have made this as easy as saying ‘Hey Google, play some music’. The connected home has arrived, and more people are adopting the technology required to make their home completely automated.”

In future it seems, such homes will become more and more commonplace. And the technology inside them will be increasingly sophisticated; think wi-fi-enabled couches with remote controlled seat warmers – and, once considered the preserve of futuristic movie scenarios, gesture-controlled devices also look set to take over from voice-activation as the operational norm.

In terms of choosing the right solution, quality home builders are increasingly able to offer expertise in this area; however if your builder doesn’t specialise in this area, more often than not they will be able to partner with another provider to ensure your needs are met.

Smart and connected

It’s certainly important to ask advice from an expert before proceeding, and there are a few things to bear in mind.

“It’s important for busy households which have a lot of smart devices and apps to speak with their service provider and choose a plan which suits their needs as well as check they have the correct in-home equipment so they can enjoy the best internet experience possible,” says one expert.

As the explosion of interconnected devices continues unabated, smart home security, in other words protecting your personal Internet of Things, will become of greater importance. Wherever there is opportunity, you can expect to find unscrupulous behaviour, and if by chance your home entertainment centre knows your credit card number, there’s a chance someone will also be trying to know it too.

Whatever the owners of tomorrow’s million dollar homes might think about a coffee maker that bangs out your favourite brew thanks to cloud based remote communication, this new form of living and lifestyle looks as if it’s here to stay. And modern home designs will increasingly incorporate it; spurring homeowners and suppliers alike to think holistically about what it is they want from their home experience at the earliest stages of the design process.