Thursday
October 30, 2014

Homes Are Getting Smarter, More Connected

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Homes Are Getting Smarter, More Connected

Sixty-one percent of consumers say they’re interested in learning more about home automation, according to recent market research from the Consumer Electronic Association. Home owners have an increasing number of options, too.

Smart-home technologies are growing, with everything from the ability to remotely control a home’s lights and temperature to sending text messages to appliances or monitoring a home’s security and energy consumption from a smartphone.

Several technology companies are showing off gadgets for the connected home during this week’s 2014 International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Mass adoption of smart home technology has been slow and is likely still 10 years away, said panelists at a Wednesday session called “Exploring the Future of the Connected Home.”

But smart-home technology has made strides in recent years with easier-to-use designs and more flexible products. The smartphone has been fueling that growth, said Matt Rogers, co-founder and vice president of engineering at Nest.

Smart homes can be trained to react to the owner and be automated based on the owner’s lifestyle: Lights can turn on when it senses the owner is a certain distance and can turn off as the owner leaves, said Mike Soucie, Revolv’s co-founder and head of marketing.

Homes are being outfitted to capture predictive analytics that can help owners know when something is wrong, too.

“You have a check engine light on your car that tells you when something is wrong,” explained Mark Hanson, product development lead at Alarm.com, during a CES session on Tuesday called “Home Sweet Radical Home.” “But with a home, you often don’t know until something breaks. With [smart home] technology, your home will tell you when something is about to go wrong.” 

Smart Home Technology Debuts at CES

A range of smart home technologies were featured at this year’s CES, including:

  • Texting appliances: LG’s new Home Chat smart platform connects your home’s appliances to your smartphone, allowing you to text back and forth. For example, you can text your fridge: “What groceries do I need?” And it’ll respond with a text containing a grocery list.  
  • App-controlled home: Samsung debuted its Smart Home App, which allows home owners to control several appliances in their home, from the TV to connected appliances, wearable tech, and more. Home owners can personalize settings on their electronics and then control them remotely. For example, they can view cameras in their TV or other devices while they’re away from home; receive alerts from the Smart Customer Service feature when something in their home is going wrong, such as an appliance malfunctioning; and use a voice-control setting to speak commands to the home, such as turning off the lights by saying “leaving.” 
  • Voice-controlled thermostat: Honeywell recently introduced a Wi-Fi Smart Thermostat that responds to voice commands. For example, say “make it cooler,” and the thermostat will cool the house by one degree. Or, tell the thermostat to “make it five degrees warmer,” and the thermostat will follow your voice prompts.  
  • Touchscreen locks: Schlage touted a new lock that can be opened or locked with a four-digit code and controlled with a smartphone app. The lock will also send home owners alerts if the lock is being tampered with or the wrong code has been entered a certain amount of times.
  • Smart lights: Lumen introduced an app-enabled LED Smart Bulb that can be controlled wirelessly via a smartphone. You can dim the lights, set the lights to come on at a certain time, and even choose from 1 million colors to set the right mood. The lights also can be set to blink to alert you when you have an incoming phone call. 

—By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR® Magazine

Read more:

More From CES 2014: Future Paved for Driverless Cars?
Slideshow: Smart Home Tech