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At the front of the smart home revolution

No one can have failed to notice that the home technology market is booming. Information and communications technology (ICT) has been around for a while, but it is only recently that the home applications themselves and smartphone units have begun properly talking to each other.

The ICT revolution has predominantly come about because of the advances in internet connectivity and smartphone capability. Essentially, most objects that are powered by electricity and connected to the internet have the potential to communicate with one another via a smartphone.

There are some wonderful inventions out there for the home, from solar windows that can be made lighter or darker with a phone app to robotic window cleaners; however, the heating and ventilation market is one of the most well established and exciting.

Research indicates that the type of people who are into gadgets in the home make their homes their haven and tend to enjoy sleek lines and minimalist design.

Talk of creating the automated home has been around since at least the 1980s – just watch some old episodes of Tomorrow’s World and you will see that the experts had all the ideas, but none of the gear. Back then, everything was powered by a cable and the interfaces were expensive. Meanwhile, no single manufacturer wanted
its tech to speak to another company’s gadget.

But today, things have changed. Last year, some 17 million home automation devices were sold, according to analysts at ABI Research. The US is predictably dominating the market, with some big corporate players developing phone apps that link up electrical devices and household appliances and help them talk to one another.

However, the UK is steadily making progress into the heating, ventilation and air conditioning market, with a keen eye on the “green” consumer.

The Smart 2020 report from The Climate Group and the Global eSustainability Initiative in 2008 showed that ICT can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and predicted we would soon be seeing “smart buildings” that would be infinitely more energy efficient and that could help reduce undesirable emissions considerably.

For example, our sector now has building management systems that can, in theory, control heating and ventilation from a central control unit.

It is such products’ capability to turn energy-producing units down or off that produces impressive energy-saving benefits for consumers.

Combine these building management systems with the latest clever automated ventilation systems and the recent developments in smartphone apps, and we will soon be seeing homes that are not only fully automated but that also have impressive green credentials.

This can only be a good thing for the heating, ventilation and air conditioning market, allowing British manufacturers to develop their businesses in entirely new and financially rewarding directions.

Buster Bell is managing director of Thermogroup

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