New technology can improve safety, save money and enhance efficiency.
Abundant growth in the tech industry for home-related smart products, which are linked to the Internet of Things, is predicted to excel this year. Overall, expenditures for devices that create smart homes are expected to reach $44.1 billion, according to the International Data Corp. By 2022, the home automation market, which is becoming more integrated and connected, is expected to generate revenues topping $53 billion, according to Zion Market Research.
These products are not your daddy’s clap-on, clap-off lights, by any means. “Absolutely this is a growth industry and people are still learning the power of IoT devices,” says Mark Spates, product lead for Google Home + Nest. “Typically, someone will purchase a smart speaker like Google Home, then they’ll add a Chromecast followed by a smart light bulb and then you really see their imaginations take off.”
Products include everything from an Alexa voice-powered microwave to Wi-Fi-connected smart plugs that control lights and appliances. The Panasonic Home X can link app-controlled water heaters, rice cookers, electronic locks and window shutters.
Not only are individual home appliances, security systems and other devices being connected and run by artificial intelligence, energy companies are working on networks that will connect, calibrate, adjust and regulate energy use of different houses within a district, says Ian Thickstun, a real estate agent with Core Ohio Realty.
“You will see hot water heaters or air conditioners with sensors that can be controlled in a way that not all of them in the neighborhood will be running at the same time,” he says. “Homeowners won’t notice a difference, but they may see a difference in their energy bills.”
Improvement of lives means safety, too. For instance, while Nest Thermostats can save consumers an average of 10 percent or more on heating and up to 15 percent on cooling bills, the Nest Protect Smoke + Carbon Monoxide will tell your phone where the danger is, whether you are at home or not.
“Some might call this Big Brother, but making houses smarter is not only more convenient, it is just safer,” says Sara Walsh, a real estate agent with ReMax Impact. “We have things in my mom’s house that detect motion, like stairwell lights that come on, which help her if she is carrying things.”
Products include sensors that detect a person falling and then send out an alert; air purifiers that kill pollutants on a molecular level; water monitors that track pressure, flow, temperature and leaks; washing machines that adjust water temperatures and hardness; and even a system that enables all home apps across diverse and fragmented systems to collaborate.
While a national average for making a home smart is around $1,000, for as little as $35 homeowners can connect their homes with the Smart Light Starter Kit that includes a Google Home Mini and a GE light bulb.
“The sky’s the limit,” Spates says. “That means everything from your front door to your sprinklers to your entertainment system can be controlled with just your voice.”