Wendy Griffiths is the executive director of CEDIA in Europe, Africa and the Middle East. With a wealth of knowledge on how smart home technology can improve lives, and an eye for the next big thing, she's been involved in the industry for nearly 20 years, and is an advocate of creating practical, hi-tech homes.
Discover the designs that will make your life easier, improve how your home works, and that could save you time and money Thanks to smart phones, tablets and other devices, such as smart watches, we have never been more in tune with technology, Among the endless supply of systems and gadgets now available, it can be challenging to know exactly which technologies will suit your needs, home and lifestyle. However, there are a few types that stand out, so consider the following to introduce high-tech wow to your rooms.
The latest trend for TV and video is to create a more immersive experience through advanced sound and visual systems that replicate those in a cinema. Look out for ultra HD 4K technology with excellent screen resolution, as the higher the picture and sound quality, the more you'll feel at one with the programme or film. Systems such as the Dolby Atmos and Auro 3D use the latest 3D audio technology, so film-makers can decide exactly where sounds should originate from and move to as a scene develops, placing you right in the centre of the action and creating an emotional experience that's hard to beat.
Thanks to streaming services, multiroom audio has become a must-have and can be included in a new design or retrofitted. There are a many systems available through high street and online retailers, but it's worth working with a specialist provider to find a system to suit your home's size. Remember, both wired and wireless high-resolution audio require a robust broadband system, so having a strong, reliable internet connection is key, as you can't really invest in one without the other.
Lighting is an integral part of creating the ultimate smart home but is often underestimated in its ability to transform a space. A well-designed system can add glamour and ambience, maximise the feeling of space, and will also be more efficient if you go for LED designs. A single-control system can offer numerous benefits. Including remote-control access and security as you'll be able to control the devices when you're away from home through an app. Many can be programmed with personalised settings, so you could even co-ordinate lighting with other elements of your home, such as with your security or sound systems, or have it turn on automatically in the morning.
We're about to see a revolution in connected devices, which, if installed correctly, can transform everyday tasks. In particular, it is worth investing in connected kitchen appliances, including washing machines that detect the load size and calculate the right amount of water and detergent needed, to smart scales that not only measure food, but also keep track of the nutritional value of what you're consuming. Product manufacturers, such as Samsung and LG, have invested heavily in new smart devices, but before you go ahead and buy, it is important to establish which technologies will enhance your lifestyle, and are not just novelties. Consult a professional to ensure that you get the most appropriate system to suit your needs.
Whether you're building from scratch or renovating, allow time and budget for advice, system design, rewiring and installation. Visit at least three design studios, compare quotes and research the systems, ensuring you understand how to operate them successfully and that they fit within your budget.