Scott Summers, CEO of Fuzzlab, a UK tech company that specialises in delivering AI products and services into the housing sector. In his Future of Housing guest blog, Scott tries to anticipate how innovation in artificial intelligence will influence the future of housing, our future cities and how we operate and live in them. In this blog, he explores how a frictionless AI-enabled future, will need houses and cities to be built with the infrastructure to support the growth and broader application of the technology.
The appetite to adopt AI seems to be higher than other major technological advances that we’ve had in the past. There are a few reasons which but I think it’s partly because AI is fun, easily accessible and culturally we have been preparing for it for a long time. This preparation and introduction into our consciousness started decades ago in the form of science fiction films, TV and books.
More recently many of us were introduced to AI through our devices in the form of Siri, Cortana, Google Assistant, and Alexa. It’s an extreme example of successful change management and as a culture, we are ready to accept AI it into our lives.
We can already see the initial ideas and applications of AI starting to surface. The ability to crunch huge amounts of data at the back end is hidden from consumers and is less fun. AI technology that can engage in natural and meaningful conversation with the ability to interpret different intents, sentiments and importantly emotions, is what will take the application in our homes to the next level.
The tech is ready – but what about our homes?
From an IT providers perspective, we already have the infrastructure to roll out AI products to the point of consumption. Low-cost processing power, wi-fi, and broadband are all in place already. This is good. Think of another transformative technological innovation – such as the internal combustion engine, which had its adoption hampered by high costs and a lack of roads. For a frictionless AI-enabled future, houses and cities need to be built with the infrastructure to support the growth and broader application of the technology. Internet-connected devices with in-built AI will be all around the home from the fridge door to the windows to the bed. Homebuilders should assume the need for more bandwidth, more connection points, wall-mounted devices, more and different cables in and out of the home will be needed.
The self-fixing home
Consumer’s expectations will demand a much faster turnaround of problem resolution with always available customer service that AI will enable. Proactive problem resolution through smart devices will become the norm – our boilers will tell us when there is a problem and what it is, raise a work order and schedule the repair. Fuzzlab is already working with local authorities and housing associations using AI to diagnose repair problems and automate the scheduling process for automated self-service. This can be done through voice interfaces such as Alexa, web or mobile device. AI will also resolve access issues through the ability to monitor homes inside and out, recognise and allow access to certain individuals and even create zones within a property that individuals have access to while restricting other zones. AI will simply make it easier for tenants and landlords to manage their properties.
AI-enabled mobility and access in the home
Let’s assume driverless cars will be with us relatively soon creating opportunities for disabled members of our society to have greater mobility and freedom to leave their homes. What a travesty it would be if future homes aren’t built with the ability to park near the front door or charge, what will undoubtedly be, an electric car.
Wouldn’t it be great to have AI-enabled wheelchairs that can understand and act upon voice commands or eye movement to really enable mobility for all? Let’s make sure the houses of the future have corridors and doors wide enough to facilitate them with ramp access as standard for all buildings.
While we are on the topic of access, it’s not beyond imagination to think that AI-enabled drones will be ferrying around all kinds of things from pizza to medication 24 hours a day. Our buildings of the future should be designed to accommodate them with easy access for landing and distribution of whatever is being carried. It doesn’t need to be the roof – secure AI-enabled window access would be great, so the drone can land directly on the kitchen table. That will leave the roof free for AI-enabled solar power harnessing.
Energy efficient homes
AI will help us conserve energy in our homes with much better temperature and humidity control, airflow and the ability to predict when to power up and down devices. Just think what the savings would be if our homes automatically heated up to the perfect temperature in each room only when needed. AI predicting when we need energy, based on household habits so that there was zero effort involved and zero delays when we want to use something will go a long way to saving fuel – and maybe the planet.
We can maximise the use and benefits of Artificial Intelligence by looking at it alongside, social-cultural and environmental issues. By understanding the business case and recognising the need for collaborative planning we can accelerate the adoption. I hope we can learn the lessons from the past to plan for future success by limiting the hurdles we are sure to face.
Fuzzlab at CityX
Fuzzlab is one of the many SMEs exhibiting at Connected Places Catapult’s business expo – CityX. If you would like to meet Fuzzlab and learn more about their work and insight as well as other industry leaders, you can find out more on the website here: cityxpo.org.uk
If you’d like to discuss your ideas for the application of AI, feel free to contact Scott Summers directly on email: firstname.lastname@example.org
This blog is one in a series and is part of our new Future of Housing programme. Find out more about our work in this area by visiting our new Future of Housing knowledge hub.