Smart home technology is rapidly expanding and its scope now covers kitchen and laundry appliances, lighting systems, bathroom fixtures, and outdoor living spaces. While residential designers were not early adopters, the advancement of smart home features and technology means everyone in home design is "finding it necessary" to understand the trends stemming from smart home tech, according to Forbes. Several designers shared the top smart-home trends with Forbes as technology and home design become more and more integrated.

New York-based kitchen designer Toni Sabatino noted the increasing ease of using whole house app-driven home automation systems. Being able to connect comfort control, shades, security, audio and video in a way that is “cohesive, intuitive and simple” caught her attention.

Denver-based painting contractor and host of the Chase Lounge interior design podcast, Nick May commented, “Smart homes need to be easy to attain and set up. Many of the systems were way over my head, and would be for the average consumer. It needs to be about reaching the masses.”

Voice Control
The public’s growing familiarity with Siri, Google Home and Alexa is expanding this trend into home design, and has potential that goes beyond convenience.

Philadelphia-based kitchen and bath designer Michael Kaestner sees voice control’s tremendous ability to make life easier at home for people with a wide range of challenges, including limited vision and mobility restrictions. “Concise voice commands will lead to automation to help people of all ages and demographics,” he points out.

There are potential voice control clients who are hesitant because of privacy and security concerns. These then naturally influence the design consultants recommending solutions for their homes. Hudson, Ohio-based architect Rose Dostal noted the appeal of professional level systems, which are “encrypted, meaning privacy-focused.” She points out that these more elaborate systems that can automate lighting, shades, music, temperature and just about all of a home’s features need to be installed by a technology integrator. However, she adds, “if security is important, this might be for you.”

Human Centric Lighting
Tied in with home automation are increasingly sophisticated lighting systems. Sabatino cited human centric lighting as a noteworthy trend. “I see that as a major wellness factor; think seasonal depressive disorder and how those folks could be helped by adding the appearance and feel of more natural sunlight to a space.” Manufacturers are automating lighting to mimic the sun’s path from morning to night into advanced lighting systems. In addition to creating more naturalistic lighting to interiors, HCL reduces artificial blue light in the evening when it can negatively impact sleep. That’s why it’s also referred to as circadian lighting.

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