I can still remember turning the TV dial to watch “Back to the Future Part II” in the late 1980s and thinking to myself: “Finger scanning, talking to a remote control, flying cars, and hover boards would never exist in my lifetime.” Science fiction back then. Not today. Now in my mid-thirties, I am installing in my home a CO2 and smoke detector that will send a text message to my phone if there are any issues within that device. I am even pondering the idea of purchasing a robotic vacuum that will clean the house while I’m gone.
Home automation (or smart home) is revolutionizing the way we live. In a smart home, household devices are connected wirelessly through WiFi and controlled remotely by the homeowner via an app on smartphone or tablet. Anything from a single lightbulb to a fully integrated network of features can be connected in a smart home (lighting, heating and air, sound systems, security cameras, home appliances, window shades, pet feeders, and cooking utensils—just to name a few).
CONVENIENCE AND SAVINGS
You might use Amazon Echo, Echo Dot or Google Home to control music, check the weather, and review schedules for the day, for example. You can even open the garage door and unlock the front door as you pull in. And, the days of forgetting an item you need at the grocery store are almost behind us. Refrigerators can now send you pictures of the food on your shelves, grocery lists, and expiration dates.
Part of the allure of the smart home technologies comes from the desire to save time and money. In fact, Nest Learning Thermostat asserts it can save you an average of 10-12% on heating costs and 15% on cooling.
We are starting to see smart homes beginning to affect the real estate market. In a 2015 survey of more than 500 Coldwell Banker realtors, one in three noted that homes with automated technology sell faster than homes without. According to the German company Deutsche Telekom, nearly 300 million homes will be “smart” worldwide by 2020.
The convenient inventions we saw on “Back to the Future” are now our norm. In fact, today’s smart homes are more in line with the futuristic home in the 1960s cartoon “The Jetsons”!