The panel, which comprised of energy specialists, a futurologist and a University of Oxford academic, were brought together to look at how technology could transform our lives by 2070.
Now because the event was hosted by Smart Energy GB, which has responsibility for the roll-out of smart meters here in the UK – a programme which has come in for quite a bit of criticism - it should come as no surprise that the panel said that to make the most of technology UK consumers would need to start using energy in a more flexible way and so urged people to embrace smart meters.
Nonetheless, looking beyond that, their discussion did throw up some interesting ideas in terms of future technologies.
Adaptable rooms and living spaces
The panel said that automated walls will be able to open up flexible spaces to accommodate more people, while lighting will be adaptable to suit a mood. Consumers will also be able to add a temporary kitchen workspace, or a spare room for a gym, if required.
Face recognition for home access
Our faces are unique – so, an infrared scan will reveal hidden patterns under the skin, meaning highly secure, key-free access to our homes.
Wireless gadget charging built into surfaces
Wireless charging will become the norm, with surfaces throughout the home able to charge tech without a physical connection.
Hyper-connected smart home hubs
It will be possible to control how and when to use power with a smart home energy hub. Incorporating - ok - a smart meter, it will connect appliances and tech around the house and schedule them to use energy when it is cheapest. Smart meters were seen as playing a pivotal role in managing renewable energy generated at home through solar panels or domestic turbines, and help consumers sell any unused electricity back to the grid. As domestic batteries develop, it should be possible to store power for use throughout the day, helping to flatten the peaks in demand that drive up energy costs.
Become self-sufficient and grow your own – indoors
While the home of the future will generate its own energy using tech such as solar panels, it doesn’t stop there. That energy could be harnessed to grow fruit and vegetables indoors, in a cabinet no bigger than a fridge. Thanks to indoor hydroponics (the science of growing plants without soil) it might be possible to grow produce all year round and minimise travel emissions and food waste.
Shopping delivered by drone
Every household will have a drone landing zone, allowing automated deliveries of shopping and recovery of reusable containers for cleaning and reuse. The drones will even remove household waste.
Banish weeding to history with a robot gardener.
‘Magic’ mirrors that help choose outfits – and a wardrobe that puts away your clothes
Smart mirrors will connect users to a digital wardrobe and help pick an outfit. The wardrobe will also be able to clean, press, fold and store clothes.
No drop of water wasted
Bathrooms of the future will use heat pump technology to capture heat from hot water running down the drains for use throughout the house, while the water from the shower, sinks and bath will be collected and cleaned for use in the garden.
Toilets that monitor your health
Some illnesses are invisible, but early diagnosis can be important to ensure the right treatment is sought. In the future, smart toilets will alert you to early signs of disease, such as diabetes or cancer, allowing you to seek medical advice as quickly as possible.
Panellist and futurist Tom Cheesewright said, “A lot of the tech we’ll see in the future will melt into the background. It’ll be built into walls, part of the fabric of the house, for example. The advances we’ll see will offer more luxury for us all, from large screens to devices that automate laborious processes, and we’ll need to do much less thinking about how we interact with these devices.”
Personally, I’m not so sure that we’ll have to wait until 2070 to see this kind of technology in play in our homes. With CES 2024 just around the corner I'd expect to see plenty of examples of this type of technology on display come January.