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The Connected Home

25/01/2016 11:02:48

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The NHBC Foundation has published a new industry guide, "The Connected Home - designing and building technology into today’s new homes", which was researched and written by Cutland Consulting Ltd.

Technology has changed the world beyond recognition, both in the workplace and in our ‘connected homes’. Connectivity to the Internet, at ever-faster speeds, is becoming increasingly important and this presents both opportunities and challenges for today’s designers and house builders.  The new guide describes what we mean by connected homes and gives guidance to designers and house builders on what they need to do to make new homes ready for the future as well as fit for today.

The guide describes the spectrum of connected homes from present technology to future applications. Connected, or ‘smart’, homes are loosely defined as homes in which electrical devices are connected to each other and may also be connected to the Internet. This provides convenience to the residents in operating the home, advantages in remote healthcare, and the ability to access a wide variety of external digital services. 

A key message from the report is that the performance of wireless connections (Wi-Fi) can be affected by the number of devices simultaneously using the home network and by Wi-Fi from neighbouring properties, which can cause broadcast congestion. The size and geometry of the home can also restrict the wireless coverage within the home, and certain construction materials such as light steel framing and foil-backed plasterboard can limit transmission. For these reasons, and because of the increasing data demands of services such as 4K television, it is recommended that careful consideration is given to locating the master phone socket in a central location and providing some, even just one or two, wired connections through the home.

The guide also reviews the ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT), which is also evolving rapidly. At its most future-looking, the IoT is about connecting previously mundane appliances such as fridges to the Internet so that they can, for example, automatically order more milk. However there are more immediately useful IoT applications that are closer to market, such as boilers which automatically inform a servicing company when they develop a fault.

Cutland Consulting's director, Neil Cutland, said, "We are always delighted to work with the NHBC Foundation to add to their portfolio of industry research and guidance.  This new guide has some important messages for designers and builders that we hope will improve the online experience of the owners of today's new homes."   

The report (ref. NF67) is downloadable from www.nhbcfoundation.org, and paper copies are available upon request from the Foundation.

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