Smart homes have become a hot topic in construction and technology but what opportunities does this market bring to manufacturers in the glazing market? Tim Ferkin, Sales and Marketing Director at Caldwell UK, gives Glass Times Magazine readers the answer.
Technology in the home is not an entirely new concept. Homeowners as far back as the 1920s were being sold the dream through machines we take for granted today, such as vacuum cleaners. It wasn’t until around 100 years later and the introduction, and subsequent boom of, Smartphones that the concept of a smart home gained traction, eventually kickstarting a revolution in technology and the connected home.
What is a smart home?
By definition, a smart home means a home equipped with lighting, heating and electronic devices that can be controlled remotely by smartphone or computer. Above this, it is a huge technological advancement offering improved convenience, comfort, energy efficiency and security to the homeowner. The idea of home automation is seen by some as a luxury – a system installed in mansions, for a price.
In the past, home automation systems have been hard to use, difficult to integrate and sometimes costly but the leaps and bounds we have made in this field have made this technology more accessible.
A lucrative market
Transparency Market research suggests global sales of home automation systems could exceed $21bn by 2020.
Core functions – heating, lighting – are in vogue, with big names like Apple and Google at the forefront of the tech revolution. Here at Caldwell, we have also identified a market opportunity for automated windows and doors. We have had huge success with our automated products in the US and we are now seeing demand for these products in the UK too.
Automated windows and doors can be automatically opened and closed to control room temperature and can even alert homeowners to potential threats such as a fire or break-in. These practical benefits are highly desirable to the homeowner, making this a lucrative market not to be overlooked by manufacturers.
Leading the way
Caldwell has invested significant time and resources into the home automation market and we have developed new products to meet demand. These take the concept of our popular US products and scale them down to make them more accessible to the UK market.
We unveiled our three new products – a parallel opening window, a top hung casement and a vertical sliding window – at the FIT Show earlier this year and received positive feedback from our customers and visiting manufacturers. There was high interest in all three systems but particularly the casement and VS windows, which are specifically developed for domestic use.
Once we identified the demand for our products we set about finding a route to market.
Many houses are currently being remodelled to put in place the infrastructure to become smart home ready and many new houses are being built with home automation in mind. With our automated products, however, a home does not need intensive altering to accommodate them.
Our automated VS windows use ingenuity – a slimline automated unit that can easily be fitted into the frame. This means the unit can be fitted later if needed, at the convenience of the manufacturer. Manufacturers can incorporate the operating unit during or after the manufacturing process – without having to invest in additional machinery or facilities – which is more cost-effective in the long-term.
Here to stay
Some experts predict that in the near-future everything in our homes will be automated. While we don’t have a crystal ball into the future, we do believe home automation is a market that will take off and the concept that every home could be a smart home is closer than we think.
Early adopters of this technology will have a significant advantage and Caldwell is focussed on developing products that will help manufacturers break into, and capitalise on, one trend we feel is here to stay.