A row of new townhomes with garages in San Francisco.
Marcus Lenck on Unsplash

Rebundling housing

From product to service.

How likely? How soon? What impact?

For the last 50 years, the smart home was one of those futuristic products that was always "just around the corner." But in the last few years, we've fitted our homes with a high-tech array of remarkable gadgets that talk to us and track our every move. Over the coming decade, urban tech will go yet further, helping us reimagine housing itself. We'll break down the functions of homes and repackage them in new forms that offer more choice, greater value, and less impact.

The biggest shift will come in bundled services. Tech-enhanced urban housing products already target underserved groups like seniors and families with children. Other innovations will combine housing with surprising uses, such as distribution and intensive farming. For cities, these changes offer up powerful tools for balancing private preferences and public goals. But they also suggest that policy will need to deal with the software "envelopes" of future housing as carefully as it does with its built envelope today.


Signals are evidence of possible futures found in the world today—technologies, products, services, and behaviors that we expect are already here but could become more widespread tomorrow.