Posts filed under ‘Technology’

Your house in the cloud: home automation in 2013

Ever wanted to make some fresh-roasted coffee from the comfort of your bed using your smartphone? You might soon be able to. Experts are predicting that this year, mobile computing will be able to adopt cloud infrastructure. The aptly named integrated systems (something of a keyword in the world of home technology), will allow you to use your mobile device to control different appliances around the home – say goodbye to all those confusing manuals, hard to read dials and remote controls!

Integration doesn’t  just make life simpler and easier. Some of these devices help reduce utilities bills, achieve clean energy and increase safety at home. Aside from looking quite nifty (reading the news in the mirror while brushing your teeth has a certain ‘wow’ factor!), home automation has real-life applications that offer a range of financial and lifestyle benefits.

Belkin WeMo home automation

Tackling winter’s biggest concern: fuel costs

When the snow falls in everyone dreads their fuel bills, which are only going one way: up. Annual household energy bills are likely to rise an average of £100 per year by 2020 – doubling the current average annual bill of just under £1,000 for dual-fuel households.

Rising energy expenses have spearheaded interest in home automation, and for those who already integrate many of their personal devices via smartphone, the idea of a “smart home” is not such a big leap. Consumers can use home automation to remotely monitor temperature, for example, and shut off their heating when no one’s home.

Not confined to heating, though, these technologies can include occupancy sensors that automatically switch lighting on and off and remote hub switches that go on standby when not in use so that you can control the flow of energy to smaller appliances around the house.

Belkin WeMo phone

Not just cheaper but greener

Reducing energy bills and saving the environment can go hand-in-hand, particularly when you consider transforming your home to produce clean energy i.e. installing rooftop wind or hydroelectric turbines. But not everybody’s neighbours will tolerate a 10-foot freestanding mast-mounted wind turbine overlooking their patio.

On a smaller scale, reviewing a building’s insulation and airtightness can help regulate temperatures to maximise heat in the winter. Motorised blinds, adapted awnings, light-reflective paint and improved ventilation are just a few suggestions, but for those living in sunnier areas, making use of Building Integrated Photovoltaic technologies is an up-and-coming trend. These materials can be installed into or replace building staples such as window glass or roof tiles.

But is this “set it, forget it automation” at the expense of behavioural change? Experts predict that because heating and cooling are the biggest source of energy consumption at home, and people seldom have time to set programmable thermals, it makes sense to automate climate levels to conserve energy.

idownloadblog coffee phones


In the past, hi-tech security has been aimed at the upper-income, tech-savvy consumer, but that technology has now expanded to include different niches in the population. Electronic monitoring and emergency response systems have been developed for seniors to remain living independently longer than they might have done otherwise. The systems include cellular medical alarms, monitored camera systems, medication management, door and window contacts, pressure-sensitive floor mats and wall-mounted help buttons.

For those seeking home security there is a host of technologies ranging from CCTV and IP video surveillance and access control to electronic fire detection and emergency call alarms. Many insurance companies offer discounts on homeowners’ policies if properties are well equipped, which is another appeal of investing in these devices.

fully automated home

One step closer to the automated home

Is the automated home no longer a figment of a sci-fi writer’s imagination? Spending money to save money seems a much more compelling reason to invest in these systems than the convenience of remotely fresh-brewed coffee and well-watered lawns. And as electricity bills and CO2 levels continually rise, it’s much less a question of if – more a question of when – we bring the world’s best technologies a bit closer to home.

January 6, 2013 at 8:23 PM 2 comments

Yo! Is this the home of the future?

“For sale – an eighty sq m apartment with a drop-down master bedroom suite, wall mounted desk-cum-spare bed, sunken sitting room, pop-down cinema, dining room hidden in the floor, a kitchen-in-a-cupboard and a wine cellar in the floor. Must be seen to be believed.”

That’s how the latest launch by Yo! Sushi founder Simon Woodroffe (pictured, below) might be described on Zoopla in coming decades if the hotel and restaurant millionaire can get his tardis-like housing idea off the ground.

Launched last week at interiors show 100% Design in London, Woodroffe has drawn on Japan’s tradition of flexible living spaces  to create a two-bed 320 sq metre house within the footprint of a small one-bedroom flat using space saving technology taken from yachts, cars and stage scenery.

To prove his point an apartment featuring all of his ideas, which he’s called Yo! Home, was built at the show and seen by 100% Design’s 25,000 visitors.

So how does it work? The bedroom suite drops down to hide a sunken lounge (so beware leaving your cat or partner asleep on the sofa when turning in for the night), a dining suite which rises out of the floor, a kitchen within a cupboard and a spare bed that doubles as a desk.

But, while few ideas like this make it into bricks and mortar, Woodroffe has a track record of turning his brainwaves into multi-million pound businesses including his Yo! Shushi restaurants and Yotel chain – so perhaps that estate agent description isn’t so far off as we might think. No concrete plans, ahem, have been revealed for when the first Yo! Home properties will be available, but it’s likely to be apartments built within an existing development, rather than Woodroffe building a block of his own Yo! Homes.

The kitchen within the Yo! Home – now you see it…

…now you don’t as it disappears behind a wall of cupboards.

The Yo! Home featured at 100% Design included a wine cellar that pops up from the floor.

October 4, 2012 at 1:26 PM Leave a comment

We’ve just launched our Zoopla property app for Android users

Ever walked past the home of your dreams and wondered if it’s for sale or what it last sold for, or even what it might be valued at right now?

Well, you can do all of the above and more with our brand new property app for Android phones.

The Zoopla Android app follows the success of our highly acclaimed Zoopla iPhone app, which achieved over 50,000 downloads in its first two weeks alone. We’ve now become the first of the major UK property portals to launch a dedicated app for users of Android powered smartphones.

It’s free, feature-packed and has been designed as the ultimate property market resource, allowing users to both search for property listings and research the property market ‘on the move’.

One of the most exciting features is Augmented Reality (AR). We were the first to bring it to the UK market via our iPhone app and we’ve now incorporated it into our new Android app. It lets the user point their phone at any property using camera view to display any relevant information such as whether the property is for sale, how much it last sold for or what it is valued at today.

Here are some of the key features of the Zoopla Android app:

  • Hundreds of thousands of properties for sale and to rent
  • Free, instant value estimates for all 27 million UK homes
  • Over 16 million house prices paid dating back to 1995
  • Local market data including average home values by area
  • Map-led search as well as list view and Augmented Reality
  • One touch click to call or email estate agents instantly

Download it now from the Android Market on your mobile or visit

Or for iPhone users visit

January 18, 2011 at 9:18 AM Leave a comment

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About the Zoopla blog

The Zoopla property blog is maintained and edited by the Web Content Editor @ Zoopla Property Group Ltd Myra Butterworth.


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