While remote and voice controlled houses may seem more like science fiction than fact to most of us, home automation technology may soon be as common as smart TVs. Smart home technology has been available for several years now, but has been seen as more of a niche product category due to how complicated and expensive the systems are. The philosophy of smart home and home automation is transforming as the complex and pricey, custom-systems are being edged out by less expensive and simpler solutions.
It can get very costly to install a traditional home automation system. These custom systems require engineering and the help of an integration contractor. After purchasing interface equipment (remotes, keypads, etc.), and custom written software, you can easily be looking at a bill setting you back tens of thousands of dollars.
There is a revolution occurring in the smart home industry. Instead of needing engineered installation and custom programming, going forward systems will be integrated through smart phone/tablet apps and use standard connection interfaces such as Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, Apple, Google, and Microsoft have all invested billions of dollars in research and devolvement of “smart home” innovations, and all either have released platforms or are releasing one soon. These companies are experts in mass marketing and user friendliness, and are expected to evolve home automation from a niche market to an “off-the-shelf” cell phone connected industry. Apple’s platform “Homekit” already has over 50 compatible product brands spanning different categories such as lights, locks, thermostats, security, garage doors, outlets, cameras, HVAC systems, window shades, ect. that can all be controlled through the Apple Homekit app.
While convenience might be the most obvious benefit to home automation, it can also improve energy efficiency and reduce consumption costs. One such proven product that has been in stores is the Nest thermostat. Nest replaces standard thermostats but allows you to control it and set schedules anywhere any time through its downloadable app. In addition, it also uses sensors, cloud computing, and algorithms to make adjustments based on settings you prefer, the temperature outside, when you get up, and when you are away.
Another example of an energy efficient home automation product is the Belkin WeMo line. WeMo offers smart plug units and light switches that will automatically turn things off based on a timer or motion, but can also be controlled through a smart phone app.
The innovation of home automation will become even more advanced and fascinating, as analysts predict the smart home product space to grow over 15% in the next few years, and to reach a net worth of $121.7 billion by 2022. Once people have lived with it, they most likely will not be able to ever live without it. The futuristic fantasy of smart homes will very likely become common place in the not so distant future.