Recent technological advances have allowed us to do more and more things remotely
New technological advances, particularly in the form of mobile apps and online platforms are allowing their users to carry out more tasks remotely. Whether these things be in the home, in leisure time or at work, it is getting easier to live our lives at an arm’s length from reality. Just to put things into perspective, recent figures show that Manchester’s digital tech sector alone is worth £2.9 billion to the economy, while the turnover of the nation’s digital economy has almost reached £100 billion, according to the 2017 Tech Nation report. Here are just some of the latest remote trends that people are taking advantage of and the reasons why.
The Smart Home is Here
The home is one of the most common places where remote technology is used – to save money, increase security and make everyday life easier. A whole host of smart thermostats are available and are designed to allowed homeowners to have complete remote control over their heating. Amongst other brands are Hive, Honeywell, Nest and Tado°, which all allow users to tailor a heating pattern specific to their household’s needs. They also enable it to be altered instantly, meaning no wasted heating if you unexpectedly have to stay at work late. This means being able to save energy as well as money by only having it on when necessary. If used properly, reductions in bills could be huge – Honeywell claim that it is possible to save 40% a year with one of their advanced models and British Gas have reported that the Hive could mean a £150 saving over 12 months. But the safety and the comfort of the home are equally important areas that have seen quite a lot of changes in recent years. Smart home surveillance systems allow you to monitor your home from a distance, giving owners peace of mind that everything’s going well while they’re on holiday or at the office. Systems usually include door and window sensors as well as motion detectors. They can also include cameras, smoke alarms and carbon monoxide indicators. Alerts can be sent and viewed from apps for your phone, keeping you up-to-date with what’s happening at all times. Other technology is allowing us more home comforts. The iKettle, rated highly by the Independent for example allows you to programme it to boil ready for a cup of coffee when you wake up in the morning or to have some hot water waiting for tea when you get home. Also helpful around the house is the iRobot Roomba. This is a self-driving hoover which will do the housework for you whilst you are out and about as well as automatically charge itself up again too. iRobot was founded in 1990 and to date, more than 15 million robots have been sold worldwide.
Finally, it’s not only living in a house that technology is changing – there’s also leaving it. New technology is also revolutionising the house moving process. Pickfords is one of the brands that recently introduced a new app to help with that admittedly tiring process. The app lets consultants view their home by video and assess their removal needs remotely rather than face to face. So far, more than 1800 customers have taken advantage of the service. Other companies, including Bournes Moves also provide this facility as well as a self-survey app that lets customer submit photos of their property via their mobile or tablet in order to get a quote. This offers a convenient means of contact for customers as surveys can be done 24/7 rather than having to set a specific time.
Credit: Frebble via Facebook
Remote Tech for Pleasure and Entertainment
Technology has long been used to keep in contact with loved ones – it’s certainly been one of the reasons why advances in communications have been embraced so warmly by the public, from the telephone to videochat. Whilst there is nothing new about Skype or Facetime, there are other applications and gadgets that seek to enhance this experience. One interesting example is a Frebble, a device which allows users to hold hands with each other, no matter what distance apart they are. 125 backers contributed €12,260 to Frebble on Kickstarter, exceeding creator Frederic Petrignani’s goal. Kickstarter and other crowdfunding platforms have been great help to inventors with good ideas but insufficient funding. The literally handheld accessory has been designed to give users a more tactile experience whilst communicating online. For example, by providing comfort to a loved one who’s in need of a friend or as a fun way of interacting with old friends who have moved away. This represents a new and more personal way of keeping in contact virtually and is one of multiple projects around the globe to help that goal.
Video streaming technology is also being used in more places than ever before, for example in care homes, where the use of computers is being encouraged to help residents communicate with relatives and receive remote “visits: from their loved ones more frequently. It is being utilised as an additional way of keeping in contact with family and can help to combat loneliness in the same way that a face-to-face visit would. It also allows interaction to take place more easily for some relatives who live far away or work long hours and for whom it would be difficult to make regular visits in person.
But entertainment is also important. New technology is also helping us make the most of our leisure time, making it easier to socialise and play games than ever before – and actually allowing people to socialise with others without the leaving the house. Many games that used to be played face-to-face or in dedicated clubs are now available online. Part of the revolution in entertainment comes in the form of gaming, a $1.81 (£1.40) trillion sector according to Statista.
There are literally way too many innovations to look at here, but two of the most important ones that potentially show the way forward, come through the utilisation of live video streaming – something that simply wasn’t possible before recent advances in optical fibre cables for broadband as well as 3G and 4G mobile tech. An obvious example is the gaming powerhouse that is Twitch.tv, the service that allows users to set up channels to stream their gaming ventures in real time to eager followers – watching gamers game is big business, as Amazon’s $970 million purchase of the platform in 2014 showed. There are, however, even more sophisticated ways in which streaming tech is being used. iGaming, another name for the powerhouse that’s the online casino industry, sees some of the leading brands provide live casino experiences. As seen on Betway casino, live games are offered for games as varied as roulette, 3 card poker, blackjack and casino hold’em. Combining live video streaming with other hi-tech staples such as RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) chips, live casino offers see players connected to real-life casino halls, where croupiers and actual human dealers and croupiers will chat with players via camera feed, dealing actual playing cards for them or spinning real-life casino wheels.
In addition to the live picture, the aforementioned RFID chips allow players to receive an overlay of useful information on their screens, including their bet and round history. It looks set to revolutionise the way the game is played online as the excitement of being at the table and interacting with others can now be felt remotely, something which had not been possible before – at least in not as immersive a way. All these online forms of games are increasing popular as they enable users to take part in them as and when they have time, allowing them to fit in some fun around other things in their hectic, everyday lives.
Tech at Work
New technology in the workplace is also having an impact on employers and their employees. With remote working on the rise and more than 4.5 million people in the UK now working from home, it is little wonder there are many different apps and platforms available to promote more efficient remote working. The expanding number of file sharing sites reflects a growing trend to be able to access documents on the go or whilst working from home. Whilst there were concerns over the security of some storage clouds, it appears that this is no longer the case, with platforms such as Google Docs, ReaddleDocs and YouSendIt all allowing the sharing, syncing and editing of documents by authorised members of the project team. According to YouGov Omnibus research, 30% of UK office workers are more productive when they work remotely and so it is increasingly important that they are able to access the work they need.
The latest ONS figures found that the number of self-employed people in the UK rose to 4.8 million in the first three months of 2017. Across the pond, almost 35% of the workers in America are classed as freelancers too. As a result of this trend, several different platforms have been developed to help manage remote workers. These include Toggl, which can help co-ordinate hours on freelance jobs, WhenIWork which enables employers of remote workers to keep track of time sheets, staff costs and payroll details and Bitrix 24, which allows those working on a project to interact with each other electronically to provide progress updates. It also helps managers to allocate tasks to offsite staff.
Whichever way we look at it, new technology is allowing more and more of everyday life to be carried out remotely. Whether all the available apps are necessary or not, they provide an opportunity to perform tasks on the go and can help save money, time and energy too – from Toggl to Frebble and beyond.