These days, the “smart” prefix is creeping into almost every crevice of our lives. We have smartphones, smartwatches, smart appliances, and even smart light bulbs. On the outside, it may seem like a gimmick to have everything augmented with smarter, more advanced technology. But once you start using smart gadgets, you begin to see just how convenient and efficient they can be.
Over the next few years, our homes will transform into spaces that are more aware and more capable than ever before. How about central air systems and thermostats that know when you’re coming home and adjust the indoor temperature accordingly? Or how about lights that detect your presence and turn on when you enter a room, and off when you leave? These are just a couple examples of what you can achieve with smart home tech.
Let’s take a closer look at some smart home trends that will be making waves over the coming year by discussing a few of the most promising categories and exploring what they can do.
It may seem silly to swap out your existing thermostat for one that’s connected to the internet. That said, it can save you a lot of money in the long run, and the things a smart thermostat can do are so convenient it may well be worth the cost.
Devices like the NEST learning thermostat or the Ecobee 3 smart Wi-Fi thermostat have a lot to offer after they’ve been installed. For starters, you can control them via your smartphone or tablet thanks to mobile apps and internet access. That means if you’re lying in bed at night and you get hot, you can just pick up your phone and drop the temperature accordingly.
In addition, these thermostats are designed to learn your habits. For example, if you crank the air down a few degrees when you get home after work, the device memorizes that and can eventually be programmed to handle the process automatically for you. In this same way, the thermostat can communicate with your phone via the internet to identify when you’re on your way home.
Then, there’s the matter of saving you money. With a regular thermostat, you either turn the air on or off, and the same goes for the heat. They often have programmable modes which allow you to control when the air kicks on, but they’re pretty basic. Smart thermostats, on the other hand, can monitor how much energy you’re using and help you cut down on the overall costs associated with cooling – or heating – your home. They can even make suggestions to help you lower your power bill thanks to built-in smart monitoring software.
Finally, if you have a connected home set up with multiple devices that can communicate with one another, the smart thermostats can act as a hub of sorts. You can install smart locks, smart garage door openers, smart lights or bulbs, and more. All of these gadgets can communicate with the thermostat to offer a centralized experience.
The thermostat can recognize when you’re on your way home from work – or somewhere else – and turn the air down for you, turn on a set of lights so you can see, and open the garage door as soon as you pull up to your house.
In 2010, there were an estimated 2.2 million burglaries, with 60.5% involving a forced entry into the residence. Knowing that, it makes sense to want to protect your home with a security system of some kind.
Home security systems have a lot to gain by becoming smarter and more aware. Systems like Canary or iSmartAlarm allow you to monitor your house all the time. You can tap in with a mobile device to check the systems remotely. Some even allow you to watch a live video feed on a smartphone, which is great if you’re on vacation and you want to check in on your house quickly.
There are even home automation systems that can control different processes with or without you present. For instance, if you go away for a week or two, the system can turn the lights on and off to make it seem like someone is home. Even just a minor feature like this one can prove invaluable for protecting your home from danger.
One of the most interesting improvements in smart home tech is the smart lock, a connected deadbolt that can be controlled remotely. Instead of just opening your lock with a physical key, you have the option to open it with your smartphone via an app. You can even dole out temporary keys for house sitters, family members, and service techs if they need to get into your home. And with remote access, you can let people into your house even if you’re not there.
Ever had one of those moments where you leave your house and wonder if you forgot to lock the door? You can check up on the lock by opening the app. You can also use an auto-lock feature, which automatically locks the door after a certain amount of time, such as 30 seconds.
That’s Not All
While the technologies discussed above are the most promising, they’re certainly not the only types of smart tech out there. There are smart appliances, connected light bulbs, smart TVs, and so much more.
It won’t be long before all of our homes are connected, aware, and super-efficient.