Man standing in living room with virtual reality headset on
Desk with tech gadgets, including a virtual reality headset, phone, and computer

The most current research from the scientists who study early civilization suggests that humans first controlled fire about 1 million years ago. Archeologists and anthropologists point to South Africa's Wonderwerk Cave as the site of the oldest controlled fire. This research is important because it suggests the staggering impact of fire on the homo erectus human beings. 

It allowed our ancestors to stay warm and cook food, thereby aiding digestion, increasing calories, and enabling brain growth, “Fire allowed these early humans to ward off predators and venture into harsh climates. It also had important social and behavioral implications, encouraging groups of people to gather together and stay up late,” according to this source

Fire was also the first example of “technology” changing home design.   

Of course, contemporary stoves and fireplaces have evolved quite a bit over the past million years, but technology is still influencing home design more than ever before.

Technology is constantly changing, but the benefits of building homes with natural products such as brick are still as smart as they were for the first homeowners. If you’re planning a new home, ask your architect or builder to calculate the energy savings of building with Acme Brick. Click here to talk to an expert.

Technology Driven Changes in Home Design

Many experts in home design and building have noticed an acceleration in the effects of technology on their trade – driven, not so surprisingly, by the COVID pandemic. When families were forced to work, play, and entertain themselves from home all day, every day, new demands were placed on the rooms of homes.

As this Wall Street Journal article notes, “Now developers are starting to integrate more comprehensive plans for working and learning into the rooms they design for new homes. Some clients have more idiosyncratic ideas. From high-tech places for getting active to spaces devoted entirely to other dimensions.”

Indoor sports centers, virtual reality rooms to play in the metaverse, garages that house electric vehicles, soundproof rooms, and antimicrobial floor tiles for maximum hygiene - all are examples of the impact technology is having on home design. Plus, now most rooms in newly built homes, like the House Beautiful “Whole Home,” have multiple uses.

Here are five ways technology might impact home design.

A Virtual Leap into the Metaverse

One of the hottest entertainment concepts on the planet is not really on the planet. It’s in a virtual space called the metaverse. Companies of all sizes are spending billions of dollars to take advantage of this entertainment and commercial “gold rush.” The idea of a “metaverse” was introduced by American science fiction author Neal Stephenson in his 1992 novel, Snow Crash. In the novel, characters use the metaverse as an escape from a futuristic, largely dystopian world.

When online gamers strap on their virtual reality (VR) headsets and start hand-to-hand combat with forces of evil that mankind has never faced before, they’re not thinking about what the metaverse IS or ISN’T. They’re just having a blast, fighting evil. Of course, it’s all fun and games until someone stubs a toe on the coffee table! Home builders are adjusting floor plans to the popularity of this virtual reality.

“Fine Homes By Hearthstone Corp., a California-based architectural and home construction firm, has recently started building virtual-reality rooms in people’s homes that include padded walls to protect them from hurting themselves as they don headsets and wander digital realms,” according to the WSJ article.

“Virtual-reality gaming systems are included in many of the fully furnished homes the company sells. Customers haven’t yet inquired about the metaverse, ‘but I see that being something in the future,’ says Robb Daniels, FHB Hearthstone’s owner. Some of the VR rooms have surround-sound speakers and vibration sensors in the floors to maximize the virtual experience. Mr. Daniels compares the technology to the vibration pads that some theaters use in seats, triggered by bass tones in movies.”

EV Phone Home

To the chagrin of the combustion engine ecosystems, electric vehicles (EVs) are coming, and coming fast. This is changing how homeowners think about their garage. For one thing, there’s no more oil and grease on the floor. Plus, there is no carbon monoxide or other emissions since there is no tailpipe on the vehicle. This means the role of the garage has changed from a storage place to a charging station for vehicles. The perception and design of the garage will change as more EVs are purchased.

The Journal piece notes that some owners of EVs are already putting down flooring over the concrete in their garages and adding extra storage space. “It almost becomes an additional room to the home,” says Lisa McClelland, senior vice president of design studios at Toll Brothers Inc., a luxury-home builder. With this pristine state, it’s not a great leap for the EV-inspired concrete garage floor to be covered with Acme’s durable and handsome Luxury Vinyl Plank flooring.

High Tech Rec Rooms

New technology means that improving one’s golf handicap has never been easier, albeit a little pricey. Indoor golf simulators that were once too expensive for most single-family homes are showing up more often now that prices have fallen, according to the WSJ.

“While the full immersive experience can cost as much as $100,000, entry-level simulators that use laser or infrared radar tracking to read the speed and spin of a golf ball and translate it to a virtual course projected on a screen are available for $6,000-$10,000. Nets can be attached on the sides of the setup to stop balls from flying into different areas of the room.

“On some systems, game consoles can be connected to the projector to play your favorite games on a big screen. Many do double duty as entertainment systems for kids.”

Podcasting “Live from the Family Room”

Sound dampening rooms, formerly only found in professional recording studios, are becoming a part of working and playing from home, especially in those homes with multiple generations in one household. Podcasts, training videos, TikTok shorts, digital conference-enabled meetings and a wide range of other presentations are all driving demand for soundproof rooms. Home designers and builders are meeting that demand with new options, while taking advantage of the well-known, sound-dampening advantages of homes with exterior brick construction.

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Safety First - Antibacterial Tile to the Rescue

The pandemic changed the way almost everyone viewed household germs and that will likely continue when COVID is just a bad memory. With the entire family home, 24/7, high-traffic areas such as kitchens and baths were “petri dishes” for growing a variety of microbes, some dangerous. This was especially problematic if there were younger children - famous for their crawling on the floor and then putting their fingers in their mouths - in the family.

This situation and intense concern for safety led to the development of products that reduce the number of pathogens that can be spread in the home. These include the PROTECT® ceramic tile products with Microban®, available from Acme Brick. There is a wide variety of colors and textures for these tiles, making the decision to use them a simple one for interior designers and builders.

Change Is Inexorable

American media theorist and author Neil Postman, who was known for his suspicion of technology, said, “Technological change is not additive; it is ecological. A new technology does not merely add something; it changes everything.” It can be added that change is also inexorable.

For residential architects, interior designers, builders and their clients, technology will always feed the fire of design.

Home improvement products are an exciting part of the Acme Brick mix. If you’re looking for inspiration for your new build or renovation, click here.