Why our homes could do with some car creature comforts

Published: 06 May 2010

Picture the scene. You run upstairs to shut the bedroom window, ping the code into the alarm, lock the front door and set off for work. A quick fiddlesticks and back-door check later, and you’re back in your car. Which required just a single plip of a remote control to disarm and unlock all five doors.

Makes you think, doesn’t it? Why don’t houses have central locking? It’s hardly new technology, having been widespread on cars since the 1980s. The same logic could be applied elsewhere by the architects designing our houses of tomorrow.

Why not have heated seats and electric movement in your favourite armchair at home? Heavens knows, our sedentary society probably spends long enough in front of their televisions to warrant a spot of lumber support on their sofas. And while we’re at it, let’s add demisting elements to our windows to get rid of those annoying winter mists that fug up my glass at home. Or windscreen wipers.

E-gadgets galore on cars, but not on houses

Some of the latest electro gizmos in new cars would be perfect in my living room. Just imagine the end to family arguments over which programme we’re going to watch by installing Splitview systems, as pioneered by Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar and Land Rover, on your TV. Parents could watch the news, while the kids watch Waybuloo. Perfect.

My car turns the lights on automatically, and bongs to tell me when I've left them on by mistake. Tailgates open automatically at the plip of a button to help bag-busy hands, yet I have to struggle when I get home.

The home-car crossover

There are some areas where you do see shared thinking between housebuilders and auto makers. Most cars and homes share thermostats, although bricks and mortar lag behind the latest four-wheeled digital climate control systems.

The quality of cars’ cabins has improved beyond recognition in recent decades. A decent mid-range car now has carpet that would have seemed plush in a 1970s semi and the veneer on a top-line Jaguar or Bentley wouldn’t look out of place in a stately country hotel.

Why isn’t there more common thinking like this – architects and builders looking to the car world for inspiration? Blame the fact that homes don’t have a scrappage scheme; houses don’t last for 10 to 15 years then get replaced. You and I are odds on to live in piles decades old with less scope for modern gizmos without expensive overhauls. And most of us are probably quite happy living the traditional way, without a computer to manage every last physical effort.

Still, I might move on a PCP scheme and get the latest upgrade every three years. Nothing like keeping up with the Joneses.

>> Central locking in houses? What else can cross-pollinate from our cars to our homes, or vice versa? Click ‘Add your comment’ and sound off

By Tim Pollard

Editorial director of CAR's digital publishing arm. Motoring news magnet