By Jayesh Maganlal, Chief Information Officer, DAMAC Properties
The rapidly evolving tech industry continues to unveil innovations that are reshaping the way we live our lives.
It has become so pervasive that it’s not just in our workplaces where we see many of these advances becoming so entrenched, but in our homes as well. It seems inescapable that our dwelling places are increasingly being reimagined to leverage these innovations for better comfort and convenience.
Not too long ago, many of what we consider at-home tasks involved some degree of manual labour. Thanks to technology, turning the lights on or even cleaning the living room can now be done with a simple click of an app on our mobile phones or a quick voice command to our digital assistants.
Tech giants are enabling the evolution of our homes with stand-alone products and devices, along with a wide range of tech applications and solutions that are paving the way for the emergence of smart, connected homes.
In the Middle East, the smart homes market is expected to grow in value to about $2 billion in 2022, according to TechSci Research, attributing the robust market growth to government initiatives aimed at creating smart cities, high internet penetration and growing adoption of Internet of Things (IoT).
Coupled with high per capita income in key markets such as the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait, along with growing preferences for luxurious homes, the smart homes market in the region is expected to flourish moving forward.
Yet, despite the proliferation of smart devices and growing adoption of IoT, we are still a few years away from truly having seamless connected homes on a bigger scale. There are challenges that need to be addressed, such as the cost of solutions and systems that need to be deployed to convert homes into smart, connected living spaces. There are wide range of devices from smart appliances to home energy monitors as well as infotainment and communication hubs to be considered and will require costly integration.
There are also compatibility issues that have to be considered. For a smart home to function seamlessly, connected devices should be compatible with various technology protocols that facilitate the connection. The investment required to purchase compatible products and devices is something that needs to be considered.
Data privacy issues and other security concerns are also increasingly becoming part of the discussions. Surely, a smart home that can be unlocked from an app is also vulnerable to hacking. The information collected by devices in our smart homes can also be potentially used other than for the intended purpose.
However, these challenges are not insurmountable. Technological innovations will play a key role in opening doors of opportunities that will enable the majority to afford and benefit from smart, connected homes.
There are bigger considerations that are also at stake beyond just enjoying the conveniences of connected homes.
Consider, for instance, that smart homes can help reduce carbon footprint. Smart thermostats that allow residents to control the temperature in their homes can potentially save on their energy bills. The World Economic Forum, in its State of the Connected World report, estimates that a smart thermostat pilot rolled out to 493 properties in the UK could save residents almost $1 million in energy bills over the next 10 years, along with 1.82 tons of C02 emissions per year.
The report argues, and rightly so, that we can harness the benefits of interconnectedness towards a future where technology is used for social, economic and environmental sustainability.
Living in smart, connected homes certainly is an appealing prospect. Imagine having your favourite music played from an automatically generated playlist when you arrive, or the lights dimming on their own just before you go to bed.
DAMAC’s ambitious Proptech plans
At DAMAC, we are leveraging the latest technologies to enable our customers to experience the benefits of a smart, connected home. Currently a work in progress, we are planning to offer our customers smart home automation through DAMAC Living App where they can control their AC, lights, digital locks and home appliances through the app itself.
There is always a risk in predicting the future, with the rate at which innovations and changes are happening. Only one thing is certain, the future of connected homes abounds with endless possibilities.