Home Smart Home

Your home is your castle. But that doesn’t mean that it should be stuck in the Dark Ages. Thanks to smart technologies revolutionizing how we live and communicate, tomorrow’s living spaces will become flexible environments designed to embrace the way you live.

From humble abode to intelligent living space

Humans are notoriously bad at predicting the future: if you ask us to imagine life in the future, most of us would describe a world that’s very different from the one we live in today. As recently as the 1950s, visions of robot maids, flying cars, and space-age sleeping pods were all the rage, but fast-forward to the present day and most living rooms haven’t actually changed all that much. And while styles and tastes have evolved over the years – from Victorian frills and minimalist modernism to the stark chrome trend of the 1980s – old favorites like sofas, tables, chairs, curtains, and pictures still decorate our homes.

After all, your home is your sanctuary, the place where you can unwind after a long day and, above all, the place where you should feel most comfortable. So while daytrips to the moon and hover taxis might not be available any time soon, our historic predictions did overlook two truly life-changing technologies: personal computers and the Internet. Although more or less invisible, the impact of information and connectivity has already altered the way we go about our daily lives. What’s the secret behind it all? It’s about enhancing what we already have – the things we use every day – and making them a whole lot smarter. Add several brand-new innovations that promise to transform our routines to the mix and you’ll get a feel for the major shift we’re about to experience, from basic retreat to indispensable assistant. Ready to take a peek?

An old fashioned television is looking in the mirror and seeing a more improved and a more modern television An old fashioned television is looking in the mirror and seeing a more improved and a more modern television

Behind the screens

The most obvious change was the introduction of screens – on TVs, tablets, and other household devices. The technology behind these vibrant displays date back to a chance discovery in carrots in 1888, but the pioneering technology has come a long way since then. It’s amazing just how thin, lightweight, and energy-efficient liquid-crystal applications and OLEDs have become: the latter can easily take any shape, replace lighting, and can even be printed, allowing for free-form designs.

But it’s what lies behind these beautiful screens that’s even more interesting: microcontrollers, the tiny motors driving the Internet of things, have become smaller and affordable enough to be included in almost any household item. Thanks to incredible advances in integrated circuit materials and connectivity, we now have the flexibility to adjust and automate almost every aspect of our daily lives.

I’m impressed by the sheer scale and scope of it all: based on a combination of smartphone settings and behavioral trends, tomorrow’s living spaces promise to be flexible environments designed to suit your individual lifestyle. Subtle household helpers will be able to anticipate anything from your mood and time of day to the seasons and even upcoming events. In a hurry? The lights will turn themselves off. Need a break? The coffee’s already brewing. Hot and bothered? Switchable windows will keep you cool

 A device used to measure how much energy your devices are using  A device used to measure how much energy your devices are using

The future at your fingertips

Sounds good, right? Well, we’ve only just begun! Unfortunately, buildings are still responsible for 40% of all CO2 emissions. Luckily, specialists are now developing clever solutions that are a lot more environmentally friendly. Unlike traditional solar cells, organic photovoltaics (technology 100 times thinner than a human hair, with 1 kg of the diluted material being enough to cover an entire soccer field) can be added straight to construction materials, allowing houses to generate their own power. Don’t forget the super-thinly coated additives designed to keep us cool with light-reflecting pigments or to protect facades from graffiti, erosion, and mold.

Is your head spinning? Mine certainly is! Since technology is constantly changing at what seems like lightning pace, it can be hard to keep up with all the latest developments, but one thing is for certain: the residential and office buildings of the future will be interactive and ultra efficient. I’m your future home and I’m a lot smarter than you might think. So sit back and relax while I introduce you to a whole new way of living!

A home that adapts to your every need?

We can imagine it. Can you?

Always Curious: Celebrating 350 Years of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany

As we look to the future, we can only imagine what the next 350 years have in store...