Back in the 1980s, the invention of the Sony Walkman and the Apple Mac computer were as revolutionary as the iPod or smartphone, while the now antiquated VHS video recorder had more impact on our TV viewing habits than anything that has followed since, even Netflix.
Today’s groundbreaking innovations will quickly become footnotes in technological history, but what can we expect to see in our homes over the next 10 years?
Astonishingly, Amazon has sold in excess of 100million Alexa devices worldwide, bringing voice-controlled technology into our homes in a way few of us predicted. For as little as £25 you can make your home smart, unlocking the ability to ask for things you’d typically need your smartphone for, such as listening the news, making shopping lists, searching recipes, checking your diary and listening to music, as well as controlling a host of Wi-Fi connected gadgets including the lights, heating, home security system, even a robot vacuum.
Voice control is one form of ‘Ambient Computing’ where computers simply blend into the background instead of you needing a laptop or phone. It won’t be long before this idea becomes the norm at home, and we’ll barely notice we’re using them.
Most new home technology and appliances can now be connected to the internet, and while I’ve yet to find a good reason for an app-controlled kettle, over the next few years these products will make life easier. A washing machine that can hold off a final spin cycle because it can read your diary and know you’re working late is eminently sensible, as is the oven that pre-heats as soon as you’ve left the office, a fridge that adds Chablis (or milk) to your online shopping when it realizes you’ve run out and a robot vacuum that has a quick once-around because it knows you’re expecting visitors.
The smart home of the future, just like today, will be totally dependent on a strong wireless internet connection. 5G is the pinnacle now, offering speeds 100x faster than 4G, but with 6G expected by 2030, expect instant movie downloads 1000x faster than that.
But enough about infrastructure, what about entertainment? What will the TV of the future look like? From an interior design perspective, I’ve got good news and terrible news. First, the bad; thanks to advances in screen technology our TVs are set to get even bigger. But the good news is that no matter how vast your future TV will be, it should disappear into the background when not needed.
LG’s prototype RX Rollable TVunfurls elegantly from a stylish sideboard, remaining invisible until needed, while Chinese brand Xiaomi has just unveiled its Mi TV LUX, a see-through television which appears to float in the air when not switched on.
Sony has also teased Crystal a 790” display boasting 16K resolution – four times better than most current sets – and while it cost a reported $5million, it does point the way to interactive walls enabling you to redecorate instantly, watch TV, work or Zoom call on virtually any surface.
And speaking of redecorating, researchers at the Shenzen Institute of Advanced Technology have already developed several liters of smart ‘nanotechnology’ paint that can lets you change the colour of your walls as easily as dimming a light bulb.
When it comes to music, streaming services like Spotify will continue to dominate, and with voice control, the need to touch or look at our hi-fi diminishes considerably, so expect to see speakers built into furniture and even picture frames. If you do want to make a feature out of your music system, you’ll find plenty of beautiful and sculptural designs – try Bang & Olufsen and Pantheone for inspiration – that look a world away from a boring black box.
Aside from saving time and entertaining us, the home of 2030 will keep us fit and healthy, especially if working from home really does become the norm.
Expect to see more interactive fitness equipment, like the Yves Béhar designed FORME Life Home Studio, that lets you choose from a library of on-demand strength, yoga and Pilates classes, but takes up no more room that a standing mirror.
Having seen numerous prototypes over the years, I hope that Smart mirrors will be commonplace in our bathrooms, helping you put make-up on via video tutorial, while updating you on the news, taking your weight and blood pressure even check your moles and spots for signs of disease.
And finally, it would be neglectful to look to the future without considering the environment, and while the basic fabric of most of our homes won’t have changed, technology will make it a healthier place to live. Recently startup Briiv showed me a prototype air purifier that uses real plants to clean the air, but looks like a stylish terrarium, while hydroponic based grow-you-own appliances that promise a bountiful harvest from inside your kitchen are starting to appear.
What's clear however is that whatever version it takes, the home of the future will work hard for its owners. Everything here had been designed to make life easier and more efficient, because until someone invents the time machine, it remains the one thing we can’t control.
This originally appeared on House and Garden UK.