In a more connected world we are now able to enhance our personalized spaces...partly out of want, partly out of necessity.


In the age of a mobile millennial workforce, real estate owners can now use the The Internet of Things (IoT) for facilities management. They can control and change environmental space dynamics to suit flexible working hours across multiple locations, optimise efficiency with things like dynamic workspace booking apps and save energy costs with smart device-controlled air conditioning, heating and lighting systems.


For the home, more and more smart products are populating the advertising landscape and our stores. Suddenly typically boring products like washing machines and refrigerators have become fab tech!


I got very excited with my first Bosch washing machine that allowed me to preschedule later cycles via the control panel, but now 2 decades on...Samsung’s latest AddWash range of machines allied with the Samsung’s Smart Control App give us complete control over our washing cycles on the go! You can now literally be out cycling and be able to check on your washes remaining cycle time; so no need to ever rush home in case your kit goes stale.


We can instantly install a new home surveillance system by recycling an old smart phone and downloading the ManyThing app to gain access to a live stream of the inside of our home, cloud-archived footage and programmed alerts 24/7; simply pairing several phones to protect more zones.


Philips Hue is a smart home lighting range, which combines LED lighting with mobile technology. An accompanying mobile app connects to your Wi-Fi and allows you to control multiple bulbs and lighting systems, changing color sets depending on your mood.


Not quite on the market yet, but under development (allegedly) by online British grocery retailer Ocado is a smart refrigerator.

The Smart Refrigerator

It claims to suggest meal recipes based on its contents and place online orders for foods running low, check expiry dates and even cleans itself. LG had a stab at launching a range of Smart ThinQ fridges with similar functions, but has already discontinued it. Whirlpool and Samsung have smart appliances well and truly on their product roadmaps and promise to market them.


Something that’s been around for a while now, though I’ve never met anyone who actually owned one are MowBots! I’ve loved the concept right from the off when I was introduced to the little bug at the Home of the Future Concept House at London’s Ideal Home Show some 15 years ago.


Our homes definitely extend in to outside space as they should, thus why we’ve named element 14’s latest global design challenge ‘Smarter Spaces’. MowBots are a product segment all of their own nowadays; detached from lawn mowers. Time and back saving, these machines are from the now bygone garage of Mobile to Machine (MoM) tech, but they are entering the IoT generation now and I hope one day AI! Environmentally friendly they also have the intelligence to know when to use more power on longer grass and inclines, have inbuilt anti-theft systems and can be activated by remote programming using a Bluetooth™ enabled mobile devices from your home or office. I assume they also know when not to run over the family pets’ paws and not to crew cut the prize crocuses..?


Not wearable tech, but ‘smart tech’ one makers dream has recently been backed by to retail Y-Fi SMART underwear. With these smart underpants you now don’t need to wear anything else – although they seem to be only available as men’s boxer briefs and in orange – and you can’t wash them yet!  Yet, if these go mass market, successfully able to control all your home appliances and systems, wifi hubs and remotes will become obsolete. Tap your bum to buy groceries, series record with a shake of your hips, get notifications in your rear that your dinner is the jig and get fit maybe – how cool would it be if a games company product-stretched in to this...forget the Nintendo Wii wand or Playstation Move Motion Controller – it’s all about pant-control...


One thing’s for sure, humans are craving smarter devices to deliver more convenience enabling them to think less.


Two key questions for the inventors are:

1) How do we make smart devices essential to living?

2) When will IoT-enabled home automation products become less expensive so they can become mass market?...I guess IoT electronic component and e-product prices will continue to power down and those manufacturers will become the heroes for enabling affordable ‘smart objects’ to facilitate our lives on planet earth.


Well, after reading a few ideas, hopefully you'll be inspired to make your living spaces automation dreams a reality. I can't wait to see what our members conceive for our Pi IoT Smarter Spaces global design challenge...even if you don’t go through with a build, wacky ideas are always great to read and see on the Community, so chuck in your fantasy concept in to comments on the Pi IoT Challenge About page or start a discussion and see what others of luck everyone!


Join or Find Out More About Pi IoT Design Challenge


Jane @element14