How will the “smart homes” of the future serve our every need?
Smart home technology is improving at an incredible rate. In only the last decade we have seen dozens of new innovations entering the consumer electronics market, carving out a niche for themselves and generating curiosity as to what our homes may look like in the future.
When we talk about smart homes, we often refer to the “Internet of Things” (IoT). This is a term used to describe a network of ordinary household objects that communicate in real time via the internet to share data, download new information and respond to human input in order to optimise and automate their performance. Imagine, for instance, that in an ordinary home data could be shared between everything from the fridge to the shower. These objects could learn about the habits of different residents, automatically update using patches downloaded from the internet, and share information about their current statuses. For instance, your oven would know exactly when to preheat itself, your thermostat would set itself to your ideal temperature and if your fridge started running low on milk, it could order more from an online supermarket. This is what visionary technologists imagine our homes may one day look like. In 2019, there are around 26 million devices worldwide connected via the Internet of Things; by 2025, there are expected to be over 75 million.
BNP Paribas Real Estate and Netatmo: building the smart homes of the future
Netatmo is a leading smart home technology supplier. Their mission is to create simple, beautiful smart solutions for safer and more comfortable homes. Since 2012, they have released 13 smart home devices beginning with a Smart Home Weather Station, a solution which alerts you to when to let fresh air into your home. Most recently, they have created a smart thermostat and a smart video doorbell that lets you see who’s knocking at your door and whether or not you want to answer it, all from your phone.
BNP Paribas Real Estate recently worked with Netatmo in the development of Issy Préférence, a luxury residential development in the Issy-Les-Moulineaux district of Paris. Each apartment features a range of Netatmo smart solutions including a smart thermostat, roller shutters and lighting which can be controlled via Netatmo’s Home + Control App or with a voice assistant (e.g. Siri, Alexa or Google Home Hub).
Fred Potter, CEO and founder of Netatmo, says: “Our partnership with BNP Paribas Real Estate aims at promoting smart home solutions in the new-build industry. Working with BNP Paribas Real Estate shows that the building industry is taking interest in our solutions which make residences more comfortable, more energy efficient and safer.”
We asked Fred about Netatmo’s mission. He told us: “Home is the most intimate space we know. It is where people spend nearly two-thirds of their life. The comfort and safety of the home is at the heart of our day-to-day concerns: automating repetitive tasks with intelligent objects must free the human from this mental burden.”
He continued: “When I launched Netatmo in 2012, I could already sense an expansion of smartphones and Wi-Fi use. With these two elements, I believed that the future of our home would be the smart home. Netatmo therefore creates products that people need to make their homes smarter – our range is designed to improve comfort, optimise energy efficiency, and increase security.”
“Working with BNP Paribas Real Estate shows that the building industry is starting to take notice of smart solutions that make residences more comfortable, more energy-efficient and safer. Our successful collaboration underscores the relevance of our products and solutions.”
BNP Paribas Real Estate and OWWI: creating fully-customisable homes
OWWI is a conceptual company that uses technological innovations to transform ordinary spaces into clients’ ideal living areas. OWWI allows homeowners to easily move partitions to change the layout of their homes to fit their ever-changing needs. It’s a concept they call ‘evolutionary customisation’.
Recently, BNP Paribas Real Estate partnered with OWWI. We are working together to realise the potential of OWWI’s innovations in our developments. We spoke with OWWI’s CEO, Grégory Van De Velde, to learn more about this partnership. He told us: “BNP Paribas Real Estate discovered OWWI through their Innovation team, who put me in contact with their Residential department. They were extremely keen to enter into a partnership and begin changing the world of real estate together.
“At the moment we are still in the testing stage of OWWI, but we are already building new apartments with this technology. The idea is that in the future we will have whole buildings housing OWWI apartments.”
So how does OWWI work? Grégory explains: “OWWI has invented a new electrical distribution method for apartments, which is made possible by Hager. With this patented distribution method, we are able to run electricity all the way around an apartment on top of concrete walls, meaning partitions can be added in order to create whatever kind of space the owner wants. We believe this method will greatly improve the work of the constructor as they will only have to build one large surface which allows us to offer flexibility to the occupant. When someone buys an OWWI property, they will be able to construct it exactly how they want.”
We asked, how does OWWI’s partnership with BNP Paribas Real Estate work in effect? “Working collaboratively, we create a plan of the property as an open space that shows clients the possibilities they have with OWWI,” Grégory said. “When BNP Paribas Real Estate sells a property, the client can decide whether to include OWWI in their home, then come to our showroom to choose the layout and design they want.”
What is the benefit of implementing OWWI in the home? According to Grégory: “Nowadays people want to personalise practically everything, from their phones to their homes. Once someone has decided to buy an OWWI property, we will be able to personalise their property in any way they want. We offer clients the ability to choose what kind of fabrics and textures they prefer, how they want their kitchen or interior furniture to look, therefore helping them decide exactly how they want their home to be.”
“We don’t know how people will live in 10 or 15 years, so we want to build something now that can adapt to what the future might hold.
“With this idea we can really think about everyone – people with reduced mobility or disabilities, couples who get divorced or the arrival of a new baby, or even twins! It means that everyone, whatever their situation, can have a home that changes as much as their life does.”
How is BNP Paribas Real Estate supporting smart home technology?
While companies like Netatmo and OWWI have made a strong start in the smart home technology market, there are still plenty of innovations left to be created.
One of the major visions underpinning BNP Paribas Real Estate’s approach to smart homes is to ensure that, in the future, our buildings can communicate with one another. To help us realise this vision, we have also partnered with Groupe La Poste’s Internet of Things programme in France. This partnership will allow us to better support French start-ups working to develop smart home technology. France has a particularly healthy market for start-up technology brands, being the second-most represented company at the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES). By bringing ourselves as close as possible to these innovators, we hope to position ourselves as a both a facilitator and conduit of IoT innovations in the smart home space.
What does the future hold for smart homes?
At the moment, we are designing smart appliances to suit regular homes. But in the future, we hope to build smart homes, with smart technology at their hearts, from the ground up. Ultimately, we must look to design every aspect of a building around a very simple question: how can this home be optimised, automated and digitalised in order to better serve its occupiers?
By considering the home from this point of view, we can begin to look for more specific solutions. For instance, how can we create a connected shower head that informs the family when they have used too much water? Once we have worked this out, we can go even further. We can look for ways to gamify aspects of the home: for instance, how can we reward the family member who uses the least water each day? And from this entire process we can create not only smart but sustainable and energy-efficient homes, which incorporate the technology they need in the places they need them.
The first great challenge is to bring together every operational aspect of the home in a single application or interface, so that any resident or family member can feel connected to every part of the home at all times.
The second challenge is to then work out a system of gathering, analysing and processing data collected from each device, in order to optimise and eventually automate the functions of all household appliances to suit the people living in that home. At BNP Paribas Real Estate, we have already taken great strides towards realising this ambition through our relationship with La Poste, whose Digital Hub offers us access to 33 million active files per day.
The third and final challenge is to make the whole process safe, ensuring that all data gathered is secure and that there is no risk of a breach.
It is difficult to predict exactly what form smart technology will take in the near future, but there are many exciting new developments expected to appear on the market in the next few years. By 2023, the smart home technology market is expected to almost double in size. Our partner Netatmo was recently acquired by Legrand who, with their strong reputation and wide distribution network, will help to bring more of Netatmo’s durable, reliable and thoughtful applications to BNP Paribas Real Estate properties very soon.