Smart home technology has moved from the luxury market to the mainstream with a variety of options available to homeowners in all price ranges. What once required hardwiring by pros can now be installed by DIYers (or just plugged in or turned on by tech novices).
Smart home tech is here to stay
Although millennials lead the way in adapting smart home technology, baby boomers and even the silent generation are also adopting technology that can make it safer and more comfortable to live in their home.
The number of homes with such technology and the percentage of home buyers who expect to live in a smart home varies, but one thing’s for sure: both are increasing dramatically every year. One report estimates a 63 percent increase in the growth of these systems and devices between 2017-2020. An estimated35million American homes will include smart technology by 2021; the European Union lags a few years behind these projections.
Smart home tech – what is it?
By definition, smart home technology is technology that controls, monitors or automates functions within a home and uses an interface controlled via a separate system within the home or remotely via a smartphone app or web portal. The technology allows users to cut the cord and monitor or remotely access devices or systems to complete tasks.
Many devices are managed by voice-controlled digital assistants, but there are other options. Smart home technology control systems are categorized by:
Security and Access – Some smart home security tech allows homeowners to retrofit rather than replace. One example: smart lock kits that retrofit existing deadbolts for added security.
Lighting– New smart lighting allows homeowners to control not only the light’s intensity, but also change the atmosphere with color. There are easy-to-use systems that allow remote control of multiple wireless lights.
Appliances– Whirlpool’s Smart Front Control Range cuts out the steps to get dinner on the table by allowing cooks to send personalized recipe suggestions from a recipe app straight to the oven. Fridge Cam is the world’s first wireless camera that fits inside any fridge to allow homeowners to see the contents from anywhere via an app. It also tells when foods are about to expire, putting an end to “Does this taste spoiled to you?” experimental tastings. Kohler Konnect features voice-enabled technology; the shower, bathtub, toilet, mirror and faucet can be connected to each other for voice-command and hands-free motion control with personalized settings.
Window/Window Treatment – With the Platinum Bridge Kit and App, homeowners can determine how they would like their blinds with a simple swipe. They can even set specific scenes throughout the home, which are geared toward their preferences.
Energy Management and Climate – The Nest Thermostat E turns itself down when homeowners areaway. They simply adjust the temperature without having to squint at too-tiny print on a digital thermostat by using one that’s app-controlled. San Francisco-based Awair has invented a smart home device that monitors air quality – chemicals, dust, temperature, humidity and carbon dioxide – to provide an air quality score, then makes recommendations for improvement.
Audiovisual and Entertainment – Wireless speaker sound systems have dramatically improved the music experience. Sonos speakers allow dwellers to experience high-quality, immersive sound in every room they step into. A favorite tune is now one voice command away with any personal assistant – such as Amazon Alexa or Google Home.
Healthcare/Assisted Living – Google has created an optical sensor, which could be embedded in a bathroom mirror, that monitors cardiovascular health by tracking blood-flow dynamics in the body such as skin color change. There are now smart sleeping solutions with sensors embedded in the bed and mattress to monitor sleep time, heart rate, respiratory rate, body movement and sleep cycles. Then, an app analyzes the data to provide sleep-improvement guidance.
As faster and more reliable 5G networks are implemented in urban markets across the country, the use of smart home technology will only increase.