My vision of the future swimming pool is rooted in technology that is here already, but still in its infancy. As for the timeline, how far into the future are these pool concepts? Our team meeting at work about this idea was chock full of opinions. Bets were placed, names were called, tears shed and a couple of silent, distant fist bumps connected in victory. My theory is, a lot of the future pool stuff is a mere two years away, but I was in the minority where others argued (quite less convincingly, mind you) that these ideas are at least 10 years out into the future.
The pool of the future will look pretty much the same as it does right now, but future pools will continue to push the design envelope, as they have for the past several decades. Current TV shows like 'Insane Pools' prove that pool design will continue to grow in many directions from the luxurious to the gaudy. You can choose which direction is which, but when I see flames coming out of a brick fountain the middle of a backyard pool, I’m not necessarily thinking luxury. Such features are an example of how future pools will continue to evolve from ordinary to the extraordinary.
Future Pools: Shape & Size
Pools of the future are pretty much the same shape and the same size, too. Physics still rule the planet, along with agreed upon property lot lines, and backyard pools are growing smaller as development marches on. Small pools, aka "spools" or "cocktail pools" as they are sometimes called, are very popular now, and the trend is likely to continue.
The shape of pools of the future may have more flexibility, with newer building techniques and materials, building a uniquely shaped pool may become easier and less expensive. This is happening now, with freeform vinyl pool kits available for DIY inground installation.
Above ground pools of the future will also have less boring shapes, not just round or oval, but any shape imaginable. This is also happening now, with curved pool wall panels, two inches thick, made of acrylic coated aluminum, covering an EPS foam core.
Just picture a free form above ground pool or semi-inground pool in your backyard. What if Intex figured out a way to make their low-commitment “portable” pools flexible in some manner to give you a choice of design every time you assemble the pool? Not a prediction, just a fun idea.
Home & Pool Connectivity
This however, is my big prediction for pools of the future: pools will be connected and integrated to the smart home technology exploding at an exponential pace right in front of us.
Pool equipment and accessories being connected to voice control via hubs like Amazon Echo, and Google Home. Pool equipment controllers are not new, but wifi-connected and voice-activated remote controls are a few years off.
Truly Automatic Pool Cleaners
This is where the magic happens. Imagine the possibilities, in giving your virtual assistant a voice command and having the task completed - without complaint or dissent like you get from other household members. Just think of the power in the short phrase, “Alexa, clean the pool”. Boom, your connected robotic cleaner pops off the charger, plunges into the pool to scrub and vacuum. When finished, the little robotic cleaner climbs out of the pool, ejects debris into a bin, and returns to the charging station.
By way of example, check out the Kobi robot. It’s an automated 3-in-1 landscaper robot that mows your lawn, blows leaves, blows snow and then returns to charge, while you sit back and do whatever you do, when you're not raking leaves, blowing snow and mowing grass.
It’s only a matter of time before some of the bigger pool cleaner players like Polaris, Hayward or Kreepy Krauly introduce us to an autonomous pool cleaner. And I personally know many pool owners that would happily pay handsomely to have such a truly automatic pool cleaner.
Future Solar Blanket Reels
Another piece of pool equipment I predict connecting to your home controls is a solar blanket reel. Remote control, battery powered solar blanket reels are already here, made by Pool Boy, and their 3rd generation models will continue to evolve in the future.
Imagine your pool with the floating solar cover. You know that water is warm and inviting, but hauling off the solar blanket without help is a real pain in the… back. Now imagine telling your virtual assistant to 'uncover the pool', as you slowly walk outside.
Future Pool Filter Systems
Similar to the autonomous robotic pool cleaners, is having a connected pool filter system. It could be a real energy and money saver simply because it’s more convenient to turn on and off the pool pump via voice (or phone app) rather than heading out to the pool equipment pad.
Advances in filters may come from pool controls to maintain water quality, by measuring the particulate matter in the water. Pentair Intelliflo VF pumps already measure pressure and adjust motor speed to operate at the most efficient and effective variable speeds.
Future Pool Lighting
Pool lights. Smart home hubs and virtual assistants can already control lights and some functions. That gives control of patio lights and other ambiance accessories like outdoor music. Underwater pool lights can also be automatically controlled.
As of right now, lights and switches are close to the only things Echo and Google Home are reliable at controlling. Already, with the use of a pool controller, you can operate your LED color pool lights from an inside wall panel, or smartphone app. What's next - solar pool lights, or glow in the dark pool water?
Future Pool Water Chemistry
How about having automated pool test kits connected to an automatic chemical feeders that provides key information when you ask your virtual assistant about the pool chemistry levels? Then the automatic chemical feeder will add the perfect amount of whatever chemical is needed to keep your pool in perfect balance without you lifting a finger.
Once again, the future is already here. Large commercial pools often use ORP sensors to regulate the amount of chlorine needed, and to automatically shock the pool. They can also monitor and adjust pH and alkalinity levels, and add adjustment chemicals as needed. The next step is connecting these devices to a virtual assistant.
Future Pool Safety
Anything from pool gates that lock on voice command to pool alarms that send an audible signal to everything that it’s connected to in the home, could save lives. If the pool detected motion or underwater sound, you’d be notified that something fell into the pool and you should check on it. You could also ask Alexa if the pool gate is closed and locked. This is nearly possible now, but like pool lights, a unified platform operation just isn't there yet.
There it is, my vision of the (near) future pool. I think a lot of this will happen this decade and make owning a pool easier, less cumbersome, less expensive (believe it or not) and possibly even more fun. A connected pool can cut down on the time we spend on maintenance and cleaning and give us more time to do things like go to the gym, call your mom, teach the kids algebra...
As I list these near-future pool ideas, I can’t help but think I’m not the first person in the pool business to dream of these types of things. That means, I’m willing to bet, that many of these ideas are already under development, and if not, I’ve made a grave financial mistake by announcing my vision of future pools to the world instead of developing them in my secret lab in my underground lair.
Oh well, my loss, the pool owner’s gain, right? In that case, help a guy out and tell me what you think I missed? What would you add to the pool of the future? Leave a Reply below.