The future means smart homes

As technology evolves, so does the demand for gadgets that make our life easier.Think about how many devices you use on a daily basis. These devices allow us to browse the Internet, make phone calls, and entertain ourselves. From smartphones to tablets, just about everyone has some sort of smart technology at their fingertips practically all the time.

Maybe you thought it couldn’t get any better. However, smart home technology takes automation and convenience to a whole new level.

What is smart home technology?

Smart home technology lets homeowners seamlessly control different home systems remotely or through automation. The technology is adaptable to each family’s unique lifestyle, with the goal of making their lives simpler—and saving them money.

This technology is fairly new, but research shows that consumers are embracing these solutions with open arms. According to a 2015 study from Coldwell Banker Real Estate and CNET provided by Harris Poll, about 28% of U.S. Internet users also used smart home solutions. It probably comes as no surprise that 47% of smart home technology users were millennials, whereas 42% of users have children under the age of 18 living in the home.

There are tons of high-tech gadgets to make homes “smarter” today, but homeowners are not asking for them as much as you think.

Full home automation is not high on the average house hunter’s priority list. The trouble so far has been the technology itself; consumers aren’t sure how to integrate it into existing home systems. Plain and simple: they don’t know how to use it.

“It’s been a lot of fragmentation in the industry, a lot of confusion among consumers as to which devices are the best to go with. Is there longevity here? If they install a system tomorrow, will it be around in the next year,” said Blake Kozak, principal analyst at IHS Markit.

The future of smart homes

In 2016, 80 million smart home devices were delivered worldwide, a 64% increase from 2015, according to IHS Markit. That includes Nest thermostats and smoke detectors, August smart locks, and Ring video doorbells. A large amount of it was personal home assistants like Google Home, Bosch’s Mykie, and Amazon’s Alexa. Analysts say despite the growth over the past two years, 2018 will be the year of the smart home because the companies behind the technology will be smarter about educating their consumers.

“The consumer’s today are incredibly confused as to what’s the value that they’re getting. A consumer could be spending upwards of $1,000 if they go to the retail market and they don’t understand what’s the value. Are they getting energy savings? Is it simply fun and they’re not going to want to use it in a couple weeks’ time?” said Kozak.

Consolidation in the industry has brought smaller home-tech companies under big umbrella home-service providers. That should help consumers feel more comfortable with the new devices.

“What the large players in the market like a Comcast, AT&T, and security providers like Vivint, what these companies can do is provide more marketing and provide more opportunities for consumers to use these products first hand. Get these products in front of them, because it’s very difficult just watching advertisements on TV, as to what the true value is,” said Kozak.

Real estate agent Theresa Taylor said her buyers in Maryland are not asking for home technology. They tend to expect it in new construction, but not in existing homes, which are the vast majority of the market.

“They’re not willing to pay a premium for it. If the house has it, that’s fine, but it’s nothing that’s on the top of their list,” said Taylor.

Most buyers, she said, know that if they want a smart doorbell or thermostat, they can simply buy it on their own relatively inexpensively. The idea of a complete smart home is beyond their grasp.

“I think it’s definitely an opportunity for the electronics companies to educate them more that this could be a savings, not just simplicity and making your life easier and being able to use your phone to do everything,” said Taylor, “I think if they knew the benefits about how it could save them money, it would be a more attractive feature and instead of being at the bottom of the list of what people want, it would probably move up to the middle.”

The benefits

Here are a few things to keep in mind when looking into smart home technology.

Home safety

Smart security can alert homeowners to activity around doors and windows. It can include motion detectors, cameras, and even the ability to call out to a potential intruder via an app so that it sounds like someone is at home. This alone may be enough to deter some burglary attempts.

Energy savings

Homeowners likely want to save money on energy. You likely already know about items such as smart thermostats, but there is also smart technology that can automatically turn the lights on and off, smart appliances, and advanced windows with smart insulation and controls.

Better building materials

Advanced technology has led to advances in building materials as well. For example, roofs are now coated with materials that contain pigments meant to reflect the sunlight rather than absorbing it the way a standard roof does. Over time, as this technology improves, homes will get more and more energy efficient.

Peace of mind

Some homeowners are particularly nervous and frazzled, and smart home technology trends that can help the homeowner have peace of mind. For example, people often worry about whether they’ve left the garage door up when on vacation. With smart garage door openers, the consumer simply pulls up an app on their smartphone, checks to see if the garage is open or closed, and can shut the door should it be left open. Other garage door units will automatically close the door after it has been left up for a certain amount of time.

Lifestyle convenience

Arguably the most important aspect of smart technology that homeowners appreciate is convenience. For example, some homeowners work long hours, but need to let in a plumber to make a repair while they’re at work. With smart locks, the plumber can key in a one-time code (usually via his cell phone) that will allow access to the home, and once the repairman leaves, the one-time code will not work again.

Smart home technology is growing, and here to stay. How will you integrate these new devices into your everyday life?





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