As the number of devices in homes rapidly increases, we expect further integration of smart home products aimed at monitoring and protecting Internet-enabled devices.
The Future of Home Automation
Bryn Huntpalmer | Modernize
Even though home automation isn’t a new industry, it still isn’t a standard for most homeowners. Because this is an industry that has experienced slow growth for a few decades now, it’s hard to predict where exactly home automation is headed in the next several years. Still, considering that personal electronic devices like smartphones and tablets are in our hands or pockets all day long, it seems only natural that home automation—which can easily interact with these personal devices—is close to being just as important to homeowner, too.
Introduction of New Technology for Home Security Systems
One big change expected in coming years is the introduction of new technology for use in home security systems. Just this last year, ADT released a user friendly home security system that can connect with up to 16 different security cameras and can be easily managed from an Internet browser by anyone with intermediate computer skills.
Even more advanced is the face-recognition camera by Netatmo, also introduced in 2015. This camera can be programmed to recognize certain faces, like friends and family members, and will send an alert to the administrator’s smart phone when they arrive at their front door. And if an unrecognized face arrives at your front door, you will also receive an alert and be able to watch a live feed from your smart phone.
Reducing Energy Consumption Through Smart Home Products
At Modernize, we believe strongly in doing everything we can to create more sustainable homes. As the modern world continues to place a high priority on green living and reducing consumption of energy created from nonrenewable sources, we expect that smart home products will be heavily used as energy saving tools. Currently, the majority of smart home devices that control heating and air conditioning systems and lighting systems can be easily controlled from any Internet capable device. This allows users to program their systems while away from home, lower thermostat temperatures, or program lights to only be used during certain times of the day.
Newer to the market, and still not widely used, are systems like the Bosch Sensortec, that not only allows users to monitor their heating and cooling system but also smartly monitors the home itself. This system can measure heating, cooling, humidity, and air quality and will make the necessary adjustments if these levels are found to be unsafe or out of balance.
Increasing Family Safety Through Smart Home Products
Another area expected to grow in popularity in the near future is the use of smart home products to increase family safety, specifically related to fire protection and carbon monoxide monitoring. The same company that created the Nest, a smart thermostat, has released Nest Protect. The Nest Protect is a fire alarm and carbon monoxide detector that connects with smartphones and other Internet enabled devices. Anytime a concern arises, an alert is sent to your smartphone, allowing you to act immediately to protect your home and your family.
Monitoring and Protection of Internet Enable Devices
Lastly, as the number of devices in homes rapidly increases, we expect further integration of smart home products aimed at monitoring and protecting Internet-enabled devices. Last year, Disney released Circle with Disney, an Internet monitoring device that connects straight to the wireless router in the home and controls all Internet capable devices from there. Not only does this device monitor access to restricted sites, but it can control just how much time is spent on certain websites and Internet connect applications. So, if one child needs to spend an hour online doing homework, Circle with Disney only allows access to permitted sites.
All in all, it is an exciting future for the world of home automation. Advances in technology are allowing homeowners to makes the lives of their family safer and more cost effective through the use of smart home devices.
Bryn Huntpalmer is a mother of two young children living in Austin, Texas where she currently works as an Editor for Modernize. In addition to regularly contributing to Home Remodeling and Design websites around the web, her writing can be found on Lifehacker and About.com.
See http://www.mhealthtalk.com/elusive-smart-home/ to watch a demo of the RCA-Whirlpool Miracle Kitchen from the 1957 World’s Fair, and compare it with a similar vision video from CES 2016. You’ll see that not much as changed in over 50 years, but you’re right that the smartphone, automotive electronics, and IoT movements will help.
If I were to give advice to anyone developing, selling, or buying these products, it would be to start by reading my article above. Then get over your pride and all the time wasted on X-10, Insteon, HomePlug, Z-Wave, and even ZigBee (an IEEE standard), because you won’t find any of them in the smartphone. Bluetooth LE and Wi-Fi are more likely winners in the continuing standards wars, both adding low-power capabilities for super-long battery life and support of mesh topologies for longer range. Even though both are battling it out, I see them both surviving long term, given the momentum of industry support and falling cost of chipsets. Pay attention to the user interface since today you have one app for this device and another app for that one. And it makes no sense to have to reach for the phone, unlock it, and navigate to the app just to turn on a light. A wall light switch makes more sense. And how does the phone turn on a smart light bulb when the switch has turned it off power to it? And then the biggest is how to show the value proposition online or in retail. That’s all in my article. Enjoy.