By Brianna Barcena
Using a handheld device like it's a magic wand to instantly control the temperature, lighting, security and overall atmosphere of your home is no longer the starry-eyed stuff of science fiction.
Thanks to advances in artificial intelligence (AI), mobile technology and the accelerating growth of the Internet of Things (IoT), beefing up your living space with smart tech is fast becoming a reality within reach of the average person.
Devices like Alexa, Amazon Echo and Google Home have led the way. And the numbers support the notion that they are at the leading edge of a rising wave of innovations. Zion Market Research predicts that the global smart home tech market will reach $53.45 billion by 2022.
Here are some new and upcoming advances in smart home technology that will continue to revolutionize how we express our nesting instincts:
Home Health Tech
Advances in AI have big implications for seniors or hospice patients and their caregivers. Remote home monitoring systems, like those developed by Canary Care and TruSense, help users create an electronic safety net that monitors signs of well-being.
Sensors placed throughout the home detect long periods of inactivity and other warning signs, relay the information to devices and alert medical professionals, hospice care staff or friends and family. Smart devices connected online and to the home network can be configured to respond to calls for assistance, instructions for appliances and other voice commands.
Home health tech advances like these are already proving to be valuable tools for hospice and senior caregivers' efforts to help their patients live healthier and more independent lives.
On a more mundane level, there are plenty of already available smart home tools to which homeowners can outsource routine tasks like cooking, cleaning, shopping, entertainment and toggling a home's atmosphere via lighting and temperature.
In the home entertainment category, California-based company Kaleidescape designs multi-room home entertainment server systems for streaming audio and video content. Lutron's smart lighting control solutions permit users to remotely control switches, dimmers and shades for 50-10,000 devices.
Amazon Echo and Google Home, mentioned earlier, are smart home multi-tools for:
- Controlling lighting and thermostat settings
- Queuing and playing music
- Operating and automating cameras
- Scheduling and configuring podcasts, audiobooks and radio play
- Setting personalized timers, reminders and alarms
- Sourcing information online with the help of the voice-activated Google Assistant
- Completing other routine around-the-house tasks
Home security is an area of smart tech innovation that's separate from home healthcare applications. There are many home surveillance cameras currently available that can operate on a standalone basis or be integrated into a smart home security system.
The iSmartAlarm DIY security system, with its iCamera Keep Pro, is one such tool. The camera does more than passively document goings-on within its field of vision; it offers time-lapse and triggered recording, the ability to use motion-tracking to keep a moving subject constantly in view, and motion and sound detection.
The Skybell HD is a smart doorbell—with a built-in security cam—that allows you to see and speak with folks that come knocking via full-color, 1080p night vision video, for which it comes with free cloud storage. Its ability to integrate with third-party smart home devices makes is a great example of how IoT draws different areas of the smart home together into an interconnected system.
It's not news that the rising flood of cheaper, faster, smaller, internet-enabled devices is transforming how we live to include how we learn, work, date and relax. Advances in smart home tech like those reviewed above are ushering in a new normal for daily home life, as well. As more of the devices we rely on connect together online, the ways we monitor our health and provide for our creature comforts, entertainment and security are in for some seismic changes.