Environmental pressure, lifestyle trends, and new technology: the world is rapidly changing and consumers along with it. For long-stay apartment providers, what does that mean?
Technology or No Technology?
Smart technologies have started to be introduced into homes already. In the future, it will become standard to have automated monitoring heating as well as controls for ovens and bathtubs. Robots can vacuum floors already and watch pets while you are out, but that is just the start. Also, technology allows for decor customisation. Residents are able to ask a digital ‘butler’ to recommend individually tailored activities and choose digital pictures.
Are we at risk of technology peaking? The digital invasion into all aspects of our lives might result in a backlash. We have seen a demand for tech-free spaces already; and in extreme cases, it may extend into tech-free buildings. In the future, consumers might prioritise face-to-face interactions as an effective antidote to the digital world that places more emphasis on communal area provisions.
Co-Living or Movable and Modular?
Although the sizes of apartments are shrinking, the expectations of consumers for amenities have remained the same. Movable and modular apartment designs allow us to have a sleeping place, living space, and full kitchen in under 20 sqm.
But modular apartment design is expensive. Whether the complexity is outweighed by the benefits remains to be seen. The co-living model might be more appealing; this offers basic sleeping pods that have access via co-living and co-working areas to communal space.
In the future, environmental pressures will most likely continue to grow, in response to both consumer demand and legislation. Environmentally friendly materials are going to become more accessible. There are some carpets that convert carbon into porous building materials with oxygen that allows for the growth of green walls and moss.
Waste and food packaging is being reduced through on-site food production and grocery sharing. Energy may be produced as well as stored on-site that uses solar panels and smart windows or gym equipment may be produced kinetically. There might be certain areas where the expectations of consumers should be challenged: for instance, is air conditioning needed as standard in our northern hemisphere?
By 2020 insomnia solutions are predicted to become an $80 billion dollar industry. Sleeping patterns will be monitored on dream machines, in order for sleep quality to be enhanced via lighting and sound waves. Smart beds will be regulating body temperature, with digital butlers sending reminders to exercise, sleep, and hydrate.
However, before getting carried away in sleep land, it is very important to keep in mind the fundamentals of a healthy and good night’s sleep: ambient lighting, the right acoustics, and a comfortable bed. Sound and light technology can disrupt sleep. So will consumers instead be seeking a technology blackout?
Virtual reality, beyond being simply a form of entertainment, can help with creating a sense of place in communities. Can a resident’s lounge be replaced by a virtual space? Research and design processes may be enhanced via VR with the initial prototypes being virtually experienced. Hans Meyer, Zoku co-founder, spoke from the perspective of the concept developer: “with the help of virtual reality, Zoku tested a room prototype in 3D with consumer groups and get feedback as well.”
Revolution vs Evolution
An opportunity is created by new technology for products to be improved by hospitality leaders such as House of Fisher. While they may be embraced, there is caution as well. The industry must be mindful of customers at all times as well as the potential backlash of technology overload. Technology should only be used for enhancing the consumer’s experience. As a result, we are expecting changes to be in the form of small incremental improvements, instead of a dramatic shift.
The overall major innovations which will be moving the sector forward will be based on inspirational small changes, that will have to be implemented on an evolving, regular basis.