S POT L IGHT
Smart home innovation:
the role of windows
With a number of smart home innovations in the pipeline, Russell Hand,
head of product management and technical at Rehau Windows, explores
the opportunities for the fenestration industry.
The smart home device market is
expected to grow, according to Market
Watch. Figures published predict the
market to be worth $ billion by
, up from $billion in 6. Previously
associated with personal tech, the word ‘smart’ is
now an all-encompassing term used to optimise
Advances in smart homes technology seek
to make living spaces more comfortable,
economical, entertaining and safe. These are all
attributes that align with Rehau design. From
working within building solutions, Rehau has
become aware that the smart home is becoming
ever more prominent in the way of connected
HVAC solutions. However, we believe windows
have a key role to play in the smart home, which
is why we’re investing in new technologies that
will aid with modern life.
Let’s take a look at some of the drivers behind
these changes enabling installers and fabricators
to get ahead of the curve:
PRIVACY IN THE MODERN WORLD
Nowadays there are two types of privacy – digital
and physical. It could be argued that the modern
world is jeopardising these through social
media and urbanisation. We have seen growing
concerns amongst consumers, and as our small
island nation continues to develop and expand,
our buildings need to adapt accordingly.
England’s population is projected to increase
more dramatically than other UK nations,
according to the National Office of Statistics.
With the UK’s population anticipated to grow
by million (.%) in the first years of
projections from an estimated 66.million in
mid-8, to 6. million in mid-8. More
people will inevitably need more homes and our
cities will continue to get denser.
What are the implications of population
growth on the privacy of city-dwellers? An article
published last year by The Guardian stated that
the homeowners neighbouring London’s Tate
Modern were concerned their privacy was being
invaded by gallery visitors who could see into
their homes. Although this is a specific example,
related to an affluent area in central London, this
problem will only continue with the upward build
in urban locations.
We believe Smart Privacy will be the future
solution for many of these challenges. Essentially,
it will allow individual sections or the complete
window to switch to non-transparent by the
touch of a button or via an app. While there
are existing solutions out there, many are
susceptible to wind and storms, or are saddled
with old-fashioned designs. Also, permanent
milky adhesive films can actually block views,
making rooms appear smaller. Rehau is currently
developing a more modern and higher quality
UV LEVELS AND PROTECTION
A report from the World Meteorological
Organization in ‘Scientific Assessment
of Ozone Depletion’ highlighted that climate
change may have indirectly influenced the
levels of UV radiation in the past by altering the
amounts of ozone, UV-absorbing tropospheric
gases, aerosols, and clouds in the atmosphere.
From this, you don’t have to be a scientist to
work out that, despite our best efforts to reduce
the rate of climate change, these influences will
likely continue into the future.
The latest innovation, that seamlessly dims the
sunlight to provide protection but also reduces
the transfer of heat, improving homeowner
comfort, is Smart Shading. As with any Rehau
innovation, the fabrication and installation of this
industry-first will be equally simple.
SAFETY AND SECURITY
Unfortunately, during the UK lockdown
many regions have reported a reduction in
burglary statistics. Criminals continue to
employ new tactics to identify when a home is
most vulnerable, such as drone deployment.
Improving home safety is therefore essential
and fundamental to that is window materials
and locking mechanisms. We expect sensor
technology to become more commonplace to
monitor both occupied and unoccupied homes,
alerting homeowners to any potential risks.
Again, Rehau has plans to unveil a modular
concept ‘Smart Guard’, that will be compatible
with every system and window opening type.
INDOOR AIR QUALITY
Unlike outdoor air pollution, which is a topic that
gets lots of coverage due to the government’s
Clean Air Strategy, the importance of indoor air
quality is only just starting to gather momentum
as an issue. As homes become more energy
efficient through the advent of the Green Homes
Grant, ventilation needs to remain a core focus.
With awareness growing around this issue, it is
only inevitable that homeowners will be looking
for new ways to make their homes healthier
while balancing energy efficiency requirements.
Because of this, Rehau is working on the
development of a smart ventilation system that
automatically self-regulates to balance CO2 and
humidity as well.
With having accelerated the evolution
of smart solutions in UK homes, it is crucial that
installers and fabricators stay aware of the latest
window innovations. There are some exciting
launches afoot in and the market needs to
be ready to deliver them.