Like internet-connected gadgets, innovations in building materials could help to keep your home and possessions safe from damage. One is the Smart AirBrick
Traditional air bricks are made with holes drilled through them, allowing air to circulate underneath timber floors to prevent rot. However, in the event of a flood, they can leave your house vulnerable to water damage. These smart bricks feature ball-shaped valves that automatically float up and shut off the holes, blocking the flow of water.
The smart brick is just one example of how construction companies are getting involved in clever home technology. Construction firms like Mason Lord
are also working to integrate smart technology from the outset, so it's wired into the very fabric of their buildings. This is something we're likely to see far more of in the future.
The smart home of the future could include robo-butlers that do the housework for you – but in the meantime, virtual assistants could be the next best thing.
Gadgets with virtual voice assistants, such as Amazon Alexa and Google Home, are becoming increasingly popular. In fact, 24.5 million of these voice-powered products are due to be sold this year, according to a report from voice control software firm VoiceLabs
'While early innovation is about taking phone and mobile app use cases and porting them to voice-first platforms, in 2017 we will see unique voice-first experiences that will take the world by storm,' says the report. 'Get ready for always communicable family members, a personalised home assistant that makes life easier, and a conversational device that anticipates your needs'.
These AI-powered assistants can save you time by responding to voice queries about the weather, sports scores and news. They can also be used to control smart home energy devices, such as smart thermostats, helping you to keep energy costs to a minimum.
Both Alexa and Google Home are rumoured to be adding internet-based voice calls by the end of the year. If that happens, it could mean the end of the traditional home landline, which could result in big savings.