By Rakesh Reddy, Director, Aparna Constructions & Estates Private Limited

Future Trends in Smart Home Technology: What to Expect

In a conversation with Charulatha, a correspondent in homes India Magazine. Aparna shares his views about the key benefits of incorporating smart home technology in real estate developments and how the envision technology influencing the design and functionality of future urban spaces.

Rakesh Reddy, with 12 years of experience, he has been instrumental in establishing and stimulating the growth of ACEPL in India. His leadership skills, strong marketing acumen and ability to predict and drive future innovation have helped ACEPL along its growth trajectory. Apart from being associated with Aparna Constructions, he has also invested in start-ups in the education and IT space. 

In your opinion, what are the key benefits of incorporating smart home technology in real estate developments?

Smart home technology has a vast influence on the future of living spaces. The number of Internet of Things (IoT) devices worldwide is forecast to double from 15 billion in 2020 to approximately 30 billion IoT devices in 2030. 

Automation driven by IoT is not only going to amplify comfort and convenience, but it will also conserve energy and save costs.

Smart home technology is at the forefront of most premium real estate developments. These state-of-the-art homes are furnished with advanced automation systems that seamlessly integrate voice, smartphone, and physical commands. The smart home ecosystem encompasses device connectivity, real-time sensor feedback, and meticulous data analysis to create a personalised living experience. The smart home infrastructure and capabilities can be incorporated into a broad spectrum of electronic devices, ranging from entertainment systems, lighting fixtures, and appliances to security systems and thermostats. The home automation system unifies all home devices into an integrated smart network resulting in a seamless interface with the living space that enhances comfort, convenience, and energy efficiency.

Smart home technology helps to improve safety, performance, and accountability. A smart IoT system allows projects to prevent and solve problems in real-time using sensor technology. IoT sensors can also significantly improve quality of life. It facilitates daily maintenance features including smart security systems, energy-efficient appliances, and remote control of various aspects of the property such as lighting and temperature. It can enable customised configurations of settings in kitchens, bathrooms, and gardens for enhanced functionality and convenience. Smart home appliances can be effectively monitored to identify any malfunctions or maintenance needs that may arise.

How can blockchain technology enhance transparency and security in real estate transactions?

Blockchain technology has the potential to significantly enhance the transparency and security of real estate transactions. Utilizing its sophisticated mechanisms designed to ensure the protection and perpetuity of information, blockchain technology enables a robust and immutable system for maintaining records pertaining to property ownership, contractual agreements, and financial transactions. This technology can empower real estate stakeholders to streamline the purchase process, mitigate the risk of fraudulent activities, and provide an efficient and dependable channel for the transfer of property ownership. The real estate sector is expected to have improved cost management and more efficient procurement strategies via blockchain, which will result in transparency for all stakeholders.

The advanced technology of blockchain helps in handling various type of operations from listing to the settlement and transfer of ownership. Blockchain technology provides smart and automatic contracts for real estate ownership transfers. It is excellent at handling the transfer of property titles from one person to another. If all data is recorded on a decentralised blockchain, this will help all involved parties save time, costs, and compliance issues. It helps both buyers and sellers in quickly making a transparent agreement and transaction. Blockchain technology also offers a myriad of advantages to real estate agents, enhancing their professional capabilities and efficacy in the industry. Blockchain technology allows for the secure and automatic transmission of commissions and prevents erroneous costs. Blockchain technology will also make a significant difference in securing all transactions against fraud and cyber-attacks. Once the data is added to the blockchain, it is unalterable and cannot be tampered with.  

"The smart home ecosystem encompasses device connectivity, real-time sensor feedback, and meticulous data analysis to create a personalised living experience."

In the context of smart cities, how do you envision technology influencing the design and functionality of future urban spaces?

India’s urban planning initiatives depend heavily on the development of smart cities, wherein in technology undoubtedly plays an important role. The fundamental principles of these smart cities encompass the interconnectivity of devices, leveraging vast quantities of data, and establishing iterative feedback mechanisms.

The Government's Smart Cities Mission is a comprehensive urban renewal and retrofitting initiative aimed at cultivating 100 cities nationwide into models of citizen-friendly and sustainable urban centres. This ambitious project adopts a holistic methodology, focusing on the creation of diverse infrastructural elements within smart cities. Investments are made in roads, security, transportation, public facilities and services, parks, water supply, sanitation, solid waste management, and much more. The primary objective behind the establishment of a smart city is to pave the way for a sustainable future that can be inherited and cherished by forthcoming generations.

India faces distinct challenges as a consequence of its vast population and fragmented social infrastructure. In order to surmount these challenges, it becomes imperative to adopt inventive technological strategies in areas such as housing, transportation, and utilities. While India's urban population is expected to grow to about 1.66 billion by 2050, smart city projects provide a framework for development within the urban areas. It is anticipated that the implementation of these smart city initiatives will generate a substantial number of employment opportunities, ultimately contributing to the significant growth of the country's economy, surpassing the $1 trillion mark.

Creating a smart and efficient energy system is one of the biggest opportunities for innovation in smart cities. Intelligent allocation of resources not only saves money but also improves the quality of life of residents. An intelligent irrigation system can save about 100 litres of water a day per household. If this system can be scaled to an entire city, the water savings will increase exponentially, especially in drought-ridden areas of India. The same intelligent system can apply to electricity, recycling and waste management.

With the increasing focus on sustainability, how can technology be employed to make real estate developments more environmentally friendly?

Environmental responsibility is a high priority for all real estate stakeholders due to the global impact of the sector. Real estate developers are utilising technology at all stages of the project lifecycle. This comprises of lowering environmental impact and maximising value from design, construction, operation and maintenance, through to renovation and eventual demolition. The use of automation and artificial intelligence is being heavily employed in projects to improve resource efficiency and conservation.

Specialised modelling tools are being utilised to optimise a building’s design, so energy efficiency and ventilation are integrated into the layout. This enhances the efficiency of the building while simultaneously fostering the preservation of valuable natural resources. Aerial footage of construction sites, combined with advanced analysis and design methodologies, allow for the efficient construction of buildings with minimal environmental impact. Growing consumer prioritisation of health and wellness is set to persist well into the future.

Technology allows real estate developers to ensure that sustainability is reflected in every facet of the project operations. The implementation of a robust technology infrastructure can eliminate the use of paper. The use of an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system can help reduce unplanned breakdowns, while streamlining work practices and minimising maintenance lifecycle costs. The reduction in costs from efficient resource planning enhances property value while reducing environmental burden.

Technology-enabled projects can prevent and solve problems in real time using sensor technology. The project can collect data from the maintenance hubs such as the sewage treatment plant, water treatment plant and rainwater harvesting system on-site. By collecting resource usage and waste data, projects can continuously streamline their designs and operations to save additional costs while also protecting natural resources.

"Technology allows real estate developers to ensure that sustainability is reflected in every facet of the project operations."

In the era of big data, how can real estate companies extract valuable insights to inform their business strategies?

The incorporation of big data tools in the real estate sector can help simplify large-scale complex operations and streamline data management with more accuracy and efficiency. The goal is to consistently deliver high-quality, relevant information and insights for a better real-time management of project operations and maintenance. This may include real-time digitization of data and integration of all operations via IoT. Furthermore, drone footage of project sites, combined with advanced analysis and design methodologies, allow the creation of increasingly more efficient projects that are optimised for the welfare and lifestyle of the residents.

Early big data tools primarily focused on creating online databases of property listings, whether commercial or residential. As consumer needs evolved and competition for real estate increased, developers sought more and more data to make effective decisions. With the changing needs of the industry, big data has become more crucial. Insights from big data have the potential to enhance the full lifecycle of property construction, management, and discovery.

The use of big data has expanded to other services such as administration and marketing. Homebuyers are increasingly searching for properties online. To address this online demand, developers are providing 3D virtual walkthroughs and full documentation on their websites and third-party directories for greater transparency. Managing the information collected from every consumer touchpoint allows developers to provide potential homebuyers with an immersive and personalized online experience.

The management of big data can also be used for capital planning, cost control, and real estate management. The data can provide insights for governance across all project phases, from planning and building to operations and maintenance. Big data tools enable the efficient aggregation and analysis of incoming data. It creates a transparent system that can quickly determine cost savings and opportunities.

In your opinion, what will be the most disruptive technology in real estate in the next five years, and how should the industry prepare for it?

The emergence of AI has the potential to be the most disruptive technology and greatly enhance the proficiency of the real estate sector over the next five years. The exponential advancement of AI has resulted in increased convenience and an improved standard of living through seamless operations and connectivity. AI can enable operational efficiencies and significant cost savings if employed correctly. The value proposition of AI lies in its capacity to mimic human cognitive function by analysing and processing data, executing pre-programmed tasks, and acquiring knowledge of user behaviour. This capability enables AI to forecast and apply the future decisions of the user, a power that is particularly promising for AI-enabled projects.

AI can transform the real estate sector for all stakeholders including homebuyers, investors, and developers. AI can be applied to all aspects of the consumer journey beyond the living experience which can be especially beneficial for complex products such as smart homes. Customer support can be amplified with AI-driven chatbots and databases to allow greater speed, personalisation, and accessibility to the correct information. Furthermore, assessing the value of a new property and projecting its prospective market value is a complex undertaking. Many variables affect the cost, which can vary unexpectedly over time. AI can rapidly analyse property information along with existing market data and public information to predict future outcomes.

The real estate sector is rapidly adopting new technologies such as AI. Embracing technological advancements is not only crucial but necessary for the real estate sector's sustained growth. This technological transformation has expanded to the entire lifecycle of business operations including construction, procurement, and administration. This shift presents an opportunity to evaluate previous industry practices and introduce more efficient systems.