The centre’s mission is to improve the use of smart products and services within the built environment. It will work with telecom and technology companies such as BT, EDF and Telefonica.
The BRE says that smart home appliances present both opportunities and challenges in the fields of energy conservation, health & wellbeing, safety & security, connectivity and data privacy.
Many new build properties in the UK already come with sensor-activated lighting, smartphone-controlled boilers and smart meters, to save money and energy. Additionally, the introduction of Amazon’s Alexa device paves the way for other voice-activated products to engage the market, BRE says.
A key feature of BRE’s new Centre for Smart Homes & Buildings is the ‘living laboratory’, a smart home on BRE’s headquarters site that was created in 1997 to trial and test smart tech. Digital personal assistants are now being put to the test in the ‘living lab’, with scientists looking at their ability to connect to domestic appliances to create a high-functioning integrated smart home. Also being trialled are assistive technologies that could help older people live independently for longer in their own homes. A number of home management technologies are also being put through their paces like the nCube, which manages heating, energy, security, safety and entertainment in the home both on site and remotely.
Martin Ganley, BRE director of smart homes and buildings, said: “Within the rapidly-growing home technology sector, the CSHB will play a vital role in educating the housebuilding sector, ensuring that tech meets the needs of the end user, and providing clarity on the performance of devices and systems. As the industry is such a dynamic one, the CSHB will also address and resolve emerging risks, helping the industry and its providers to operate as efficiently and sustainably as possible.”