Connect with us

Current

Ingenious new technology promises to take the strain out of housework

Voice Of EU

Published

on

Housework will never disappear, alas. But a global technology revolution is set to make our homes simpler to operate – and also more hygienic.

Change was already under way before the pandemic, but lockdowns and working from home have accelerated the pace. 

Now a whole range of companies are betting that more people will invest in devices that take the strain out of cleaning, combat infection, provide a restaurant-type experience, or lift the mood through lighting or other means.

Home of the future: Companies are betting that more people will invest in devices that take the strain out of cleaning, combat infection or provide a restaurant-type experience

Home of the future: Companies are betting that more people will invest in devices that take the strain out of cleaning, combat infection or provide a restaurant-type experience

Banish the gloom

American houses are being equipped with systems that mimic the light outdoors based on the time of day, allowing the occupants to be ‘at one with nature’.

In the UK, sales of seasonal affective disorder (SAD) lamps, such as the Beurer Wake Up Light have risen by 81 per cent at John Lewis. 

This Bluetooth device (£120) helps you fall asleep to a light that mimics sunset and rouses you from your slumbers to a simulated sunrise with soothing sounds.

For further solace, you can jump into a chromotherapy shower, where the water changes colour, either to a prefixed palette, or your own selection of cheering shades. Living House offers systems starting at £170 (livinghouse.co.uk).

Robo cook and clean

Robotics will play a crucial role in this transformation of the way we live, clean and cook. Irobot (irobot.co.uk), the U.S. company behind the £1,199 Roomba robot vacuum cleaner and mop (operated via an app on your phone), contends that, before too long, a robot will load and unload the dishwasher.

The Sage pizza oven (£699.99) is powered by algorithms that ensure even cooking

The Sage pizza oven (£699.99) is powered by algorithms that ensure even cooking

Not every innovation smacks of sci-fi. Huge effort is being applied to the improvement of everyday gadgets, particularly those essential for breakfast, which has become a more important family meal thanks to home-working and schooling.

Lovers of toast will be unable to wait for the arrival on our shores of The Toaster from Balmuda, a Japanese company. For £240 it pledges to deliver the perfect slice of toast (or cheese on toast) thanks to steam technology.

It is now possible to see how such appliances could look in your kitchen by downloading an augmented-reality app onto your phone.

Anyone thinking of acquiring a Sage espresso machine (£379 to £1,999.95, sage appliances.com) or £699.95 pizza oven, powered by algorithms that ensure even cooking, can use this technology to see which machine best suits their decor, while weighing the cost against likely usage.

In the UK, sales of seasonal affective disorder (SAD) lamps, such as the Beurer Wake Up Light have risen by 81 per cent at John Lewis

In the UK, sales of seasonal affective disorder (SAD) lamps, such as the Beurer Wake Up Light have risen by 81 per cent at John Lewis

Contactless kitchen

The appeal of the £279.95 Simplehuman (simplehuman.co.uk) combined waste and recycling bin — which opens when you approach or say ‘open can’ — may seem less obvious.

But this item is in the vanguard of the shift towards contactless living in the kitchen and elsewhere in the home, which is set to be the lasting legacy of the fear of infection spurred by coronavirus.

A voice command will open the door of the next addition to the LG range of InstaView smart fridges, which connect to wifi and have an interactive screen that displays the contents of the fridge.

LG’s £5,449 wine cooler opens with a sensor, a high-tech feature in a device which promises to replicate the temperature conditions of a deluxe restaurant cellar (lg.com).

Visions of the future

Assuming that we want to have as much family fun as possible at home, this month LG also unveiled a 48 in TV bendable screen, to be used flat for watching TV and curved for gaming.

Other devices that may be on their way include the Sparshless contactless button that can be installed in existing lifts to reduce the transmission of bacteria. You choose the floor to which you wish to go by pointing at the button.

Future Of The Home, a new report from Aritco, the Sparshless developer, outlines other designs spurred by the pandemic, such as the Vortec bladeless ceiling fan, developed at the Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, which kills microorganisms.

Researchers in the Swedish city of Umea have produced the Muho, a hallway sanitisation station that disinfects hands, keys and phones. 

Let’s hope that Electrolux, which collaborated in the project, opts to roll-out the product.

Justin Sablich of the consultancy Springwise, the report’s author, says that ‘the pandemic has shifted our priorities’.

The assumption that our lives will be different for a number of years will drive the adoption of more technology, especially since many households were already running their lives differently thanks to voice assistants such as Alexa and mobile phone apps.

But our readiness to adapt to this change should not throw us off our guard. The smarter your home becomes, the higher the risk of hacking. 

A dishwasher that orders up its own supplies of detergent and salt may be a handy housemate, but it has the potential to become an enemy within.

A report from the Which? consumer agency revealed that the security updates on some smart appliances run out before the end of the lifetime of these appliances, leaving them vulnerable to hackers.

Let’s hope that the Government moves swifty, as promised, to ‘ensure stronger security is built into consumer smart products’, because the home revolution is unstoppable.

What your home really needs is a… new vase 

Argos's ribbed glass vase in smokey blue , £16) adds a hint of 1930s glamour

Argos’s ribbed glass vase in smokey blue , £16) adds a hint of 1930s glamour

There are still 57 days until the first day of spring. But as every home needs that season’s spirit of hopefulness just now, a new vase will help.

Fill it with daffodils from the supermarket and position it close to yourself on a Zoom call and you will spread the cheer around. 

You could tell everyone that the Egyptians (who began making pottery vases in about 1,500 BC) seem to have been the first to display blooms this way, but that’s up to you.

Whatever your taste in decor, this is one of the cheapest ways to raise the mood. At Dunelm, a rectangular glass vase with a Scandi feel costs just £6 (dunelm.co.uk). 

Argos (argos.co.uk) has a ribbed glass vase in smokey blue , £16) with a hint of 1930s glamour. 

Wayfair (wayfair.co.uk) supplies a wide assortment, including a silver jug-shaped vase (£13.99) for the ‘cottagecore’ (hip rural) look.

The ancient Greeks’ obsession with vases is well-chronicled, and many of their masterpieces fill our museums.

If you long for a modern masterpiece, Selfridges (selfridges.com) can oblige with examples of Waterford crystal (£100 to £1,121).

Source link

Current

Bloom secures planning for London ultra-urban warehouse developments (GB)

Voice Of EU

Published

on

Bloom has secured planning consent for two developments in central London. The developments are located in Hackney and Brixton and are the first to be carried out by Bloom for its €290.4m (£250m) ultra-urban warehouse joint venture with Angelo Gordon to acquire and develop sites in central London. In Hackney, on a site by the A12 next to 331 Wick Road, Bloom will develop two units, totaling 14,045ft², designed by Michael Sparks Associates. Construction will start next month, with completion expected in April 2023. In Brixton, at 146-156 Brixton Hill and Units 5 & 6 Waterworks Road, Bloom will develop five units, totaling 35,360ft², designed by Chetwoods. Construction will start in September, with completion expected in August 2023.

 

Both developments will be targeting a BREEAM sustainability rating of ‘Excellent’ and an EPC rating of ‘A+’ in accord with Bloom’s core sustainability objective to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through construction and operational efficiency. The schemes will include extensive urban greening through the implementation of green walls, green roofs, increased landscaping, bird boxes, and insect hotels to significantly improve the biodiversity; renewable energy in the form of solar photovoltaic panels on the roofs; and lorry, car, and cycle EV charging points to encourage sustainable and active modes of transport as well as enhanced power capacity to accommodate future EV transport technologies.

 

Tom Davies, co-founder of Bloom, said: “Our first two planning consents represent an important milestone for the Bloom team, which is working hard to deliver high-quality and design-led industrial and logistics schemes in supply-constrained inner London sub-markets”.

 

Sam McGirr, co-founder of Bloom, said: “These planning consents for well-located sites give us the opportunity to meet the high demand for convenience and speed from businesses, such as F&B delivery, post and parcel, e-mobility, self-storage and urban logistics and consumers in the local communities”.

Source link

Continue Reading

Current

Could equity release be used to help more younger homebuyers?

Voice Of EU

Published

on

Younger first-time buyers could be given more financial help from the Bank of Grandma and Grandad, through the use of improved equity release products, a new report suggests.

The document written by Tom McPhail, of consultancy The Lang Cat, claimed that younger buyers are missing out because older members of their family are unable to satisfactorily tap into their property wealth.

Mr McPhail said: ‘Releasing some of the equity in a property means older homeowners can choose when and how they share their wealth with younger generations.

‘An equity release by grandparents of say £20,000 now, could be transformational for a 20 something struggling to raise a deposit and get on the housing ladder but would make only a very modest dent to the value of the grandparent’s house.’

Releasing some of the equity in a property means older homeowners can choose when and how they share their wealth with younger generations, says new report

Releasing some of the equity in a property means older homeowners can choose when and how they share their wealth with younger generations, says new report

The report acknowledged that equity release has endured a poor reputation in the past after customers suffered ‘severe’ financial knocks.

The sector has been criticised for encouraging people to take on debt, particularly later on in life.

There has also been other concerns about equity release, such as customers falling into negative equity where the value of a property is less than the loan taken out against it when house prices fall.

The report suggested that while the equity release sector has since begun to put ‘its house in order’, it is ‘still not perfect’ and some regulatory safeguards need to be strengthened.

It called for several issues to be looked at, including early redemption charges on equity release products.

It said that most providers apply a simple sliding scale of charges, for example 10 per cent in year on to 1 per cent in year 10.

However, it claimed that some providers apply an early redemption charge based on prevailing gilt rates at that time, putting customers at an ‘unfair disadvantage’.

This is because the fees are not transparent as there is no way a customer can know in advance whether they’d be liable for a charge and if so, how much. 

In the past, customers have also fallen foul of the small print on their equity release loans when it comes to early-redemption penalties – such as couples who must pay an exit fee unless both of them need to go into care.

The report also raised questions about interest rates on equity release products. It said providers should be consistent with their lending criteria and not move the goalposts after customers have taken out a loan, as this can make it harder for them to access a top-up loan in the future, potentially forcing them to remortgage. 

Equity release products could help people access their property wealth to help younger members of their family onto the property ladder

Equity release products could help people access their property wealth to help younger members of their family onto the property ladder

The report argued that equity release products could help people access their property wealth to help younger members of their family onto the property ladder.

Mr McPhail added: ‘Raising a deposit has become an increasingly significant barrier to getting on the housing ladder, with increasing numbers of first-time buyers having to rely on financial help from older generations.

‘Releasing some of the equity in a property allows older homeowners to choose when and how they share their wealth with the younger generation.

‘This more targeted approach gives them greater control to use their assets to the maximum benefit at the point of need.’

Raising a deposit is a barrier to getting on the housing ladder, with increasing numbers of first-time buyers having to rely on financial help from older generations, says the report's author Tom McPhail

Raising a deposit is a barrier to getting on the housing ladder, with increasing numbers of first-time buyers having to rely on financial help from older generations, says the report’s author Tom McPhail

Equity release: How it works and advice

To help readers considering equity release, This is Money has partnered with Age Partnership+, independent advisers who specialise in retirement mortgages and equity release. 

Age Partnership+ compares deals across the whole of the market and their advisers can help you work out whether equity release is right for you – or whether there are better options, such as downsizing. 

Age Partnership+ advisers can also see if those with existing equity release deals can save money by switching. 

You can compare equity release rates and work out how much you could potentially borrow with This is Money’s new calculator powered by broker Age Partnership+.* 

 * Partner link

Jonathan Harris, of mortgage broker Forensic Property Finance, said: ‘Equity release has historically been viewed as a ‘murky’, high-risk sector, fuelled by minimal regulation, poorly-qualified advisers, only a handful of lenders and extortionately high interest rates.

‘Fast forward to today and we see a dramatically transformed sector, benefiting from strict regulation, highly-qualified advisers, multiple lenders and access to very competitive interest rates. 

‘Not surprisingly, equity release is now a viable and growing market for older borrowers looking to utilise the gains seen on property prices to bolster lifestyles, as well as pass on wealth to children when they need it.

‘Those considering equity release should make sure they understand the implications and involve family in any decision-making. It is always important to seek advice from suitably-qualified advisers.’

It comes as a separate report by Legal & General suggested that one in every £90 spent by retired Britons is funded by equity release.

It said that equity release funded an estimated £3billion in retirement spending last year, although it didn’t mentioned the money going to younger generations towards buying a property.

Instead, the report’s survey of 2,000 homeowners found that those with equity release have most frequently used the product to finance home improvements, at 26 per cent.

It said equity release is also being used to support costs such as medical expenses at 17 per cent, maintaining living standards in retirement at 16 per cent, and paying off personal debt at 16 per cent, for example paying off interest-only mortgages. 

It suggested that equity release is likely to play an increasingly important role in financing care-related expenses, with 19 per cent of prospective homeowners citing it as a consideration.

Source link

Continue Reading

Current

Allianz Real Estate buys prime office building in Rome (IT)

Voice Of EU

Published

on

Allianz Real Estate, advised by Dils, has acquired an office property in the centre of Rome. The transaction, worth circa €175m, is one of the most important to have been carried out on the real estate market in Rome in recent years.

 

The building, consisting of eleven storeys, comprising nine above-ground and two underground, has a gross lettable area of circa 22,000m² and has undergone a major refurbishment, offering the highest environmental sustainability and energy efficiency standards (LEED Gold Certification). The strategic location, between the CBD and Termini Station, is enjoying great success, especially among corporate occupiers. 

Source link

Continue Reading

Trending

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates 
directly on your inbox.

You have Successfully Subscribed!