The Quick Guide to Smart Home Technology in 2016

The Internet of Things (IoT) is taking over homes. Each day, more houses are being equipped with new gadgets and technology that aim to boost convenience, personalization, and connectivity for homeowners everywhere.

In real estate, in order to stay competitive and continue positioning yourself as a valued resource for potential clients to leverage when they have questions and need help, it’s important to keep up the trends and advances that are occurring when it comes to smart home technology.

This article will provide you with a quick guide to smart home technology in 2016. It will include a brief overview about IoT and the future of homes, a rundown of the biggest smart home trends that are impacting how homes are built and sold, a list of specific examples of new technology and gadgets being incorporated into the home, and a few final thoughts on the potential risks and concerns associated with adding connected devices and gadgets in the home.

Overview

The world has been enamored with the idea of the smart home for decades, even before it was possible—think back to shows like The Jetson’s and movies like the Back to The Future series.

It’s only within the last few years, however, that technology has become affordable enough for the everyday consumer and connectivity and access to the Internet has become widespread enough for the dream of the smart home to finally start becoming a reality.

To understand why smart home technology is skyrocketing in popularity now more than ever before, you have to understand the one key phrase that’s driving innovation in the industry: The Internet of Things (IoT).

Author Jacob Morgan provides a simple definition of IoT in a great Forbes article he wrote in 2014. He writes,

“Simply put, this is the concept of basically connecting any device with an on and off switch to the Internet (and/or to each other). This includes everything from cellphones, coffee makers, washing machines, headphones, lamps, wearable devices and almost anything else you can think of. This also applies to components of machines, for example a jet engine of an airplane or the drill of an oil rig.”

To further understand the growing interest among consumers and homebuyers of smart home technology and The Internet of Things, it’s also important to understand the impact that mobile devices are having on our lives.

Consider the following statistics from a 2015 report on smartphone usage from the Pew Research Center:

  • 64% of American adults now own a smartphone of some kind, up from 35% in the spring of 2011. Smartphone ownership is especially high among younger Americans, as well as those with relatively high income and education levels.
  • 62% of smartphone owners have used their phone in the past year to look up information about a health condition.
  • 57% have used their phone to do online banking.
  • 44% have used their phone to look up real estate listings or other information about a place to live.

You can start to see the picture that these statistics paint for our society as a whole, and particularly when it comes to younger generations entering the homebuying market: a growing dependence on technology, connectivity, and mobile devices in order to perform basic daily tasks and live more productive and successful lives.

So, the question is, what is this all doing to homes?

Trends

There are five main categories that can be identified when looking at the new technology and innovations being introduced and incorporated into homes to support IoT:  

  1. Security/Safety – Technology and tools that are changing how locks, doors, smoke alarms, and security systems in the home are operated and managed.
  1. Convenience – Technology and tools that are making it easier to manage and control the home from anywhere (i.e. without having to actually be in the home).
  1. Productivity/Efficiency – Technology and tools that are helping homeowners spend less money and time heating, cooling, and lighting their homes.
  1. Entertainment – Technology and tools that are adding new entertainment capabilities and opportunities into the home.  
  1. Master Control – Technology and tools that are creating the opportunity to manage all aspects of the home from one centralized location.

As smart home technology features become more prevalent in the homes you sell, understanding these five main categories can help you become more effective at selling potential buyers on the added value that such features will bring to them and their families.

Specific Examples

So what kind of technology should you expect to see in the homes you help your clients buy and sell? Here are a number of examples of popular and recently introduced tools being incorporated into homes:

  • Smart Thermostat from Nest: this product integrates into a home’s heating and cooling system and allows users to adjust the thermostat from anywhere. It also learns habits over time and adjusts temperatures accordingly.
  • Home Monitoring Kit from Samsung: this product allows users to monitor and manage nearly every aspect of their home from anywhere via their mobile device. It inlcudes smart cameras, motion sensors, leak sensors, outlet controls, and more.
  • Smart Garage Door from Chamberlain: this product allows users to open and close their garage doors from the convienence of their smartphone.
  • Smart Security System from Canary: this product allows users to set up camera systems throughout their home and check on areas in real-time from their smartphones.
  • Smart Door Bell from Ring: this product allows users to see who’s at your door from your smarthphone. It also allows users to speak back and forth with visitors.
  • Smart Lighting System from Hue and Phillips: this product allows users to easily change and control lighting around a home based on mood and function.
  • Smart Speakers from Sonos: this product allows users to strem music from your smartphone wirelessly to speakers throughout various rooms and areas in their house.
  • Smart Assistant from Amazon Echo: this product plays music and also allows users to control other smart devices through the home.
  • Smart Vaccum from Roomba and iRobot: this product vaccums floors unattended while homeowners are away or in a different area of the house.
  • Smart Locks from August: this product allows users to lock and unlock doors from their phones, create virtual temporary keys for visitors, and see and speak with guests.

These are just a handful of examples, but hundreds of new products are being introduced every month to meet the demands of homeowners.

Concerns

The innovations and technology being introduced into homes is exciting, but it also presents new challenges. As more homeowners connect their homes to the internet, they create new vulnerabilities and opportunities for hackers looking to gain private information, or worse, access into homes. There are numerous articles written on this subject. Here are a few worth looking into:

As a real estate agent, it’s important to educate yourself on these risks in order to help your clients understand how to combat the potential risks associated with buying a home that uses smart home technology.

What has your experience been with helping clients buy or sell homes with built-in smart home technology? Tell me in the comments section below, I’d love to hear from you.

About Aaron Kardell

Founder and CEO of HomeSpotter

7 thoughts on “The Quick Guide to Smart Home Technology in 2016

  1. Hi Aaron, appreciate the well-organized and researched post. What’s most interesting to me, however, is how little things have fundamentally changed from when I saw a lot of this stuff at CES in January 2014. For everyday homeowners, looking at the Morgan quote, we still don’t really have an “internet of things”: we do have many devices which can connect to wi-fi, but what we still don’t have many devices that can connect to each other. With a number of competing software protocols, what we have–instead of an IoT–is “many mutually unintelligible Wi-Fi-enabled appliances, all rendered useless without a smartphone.”

    Once all the competing parties can a) resolve what looks to be worse than the Blu-Ray vs. HD DVD format wars, and b) grow beyond using the phone for the universal hub toward device self-sufficiency, then we’ll really have ourselves an Internet of Things.

    (On a detail note, I would also argue that the conversation around “smart” devices still far outstrips action…Nest is probably one of the longer-established and better-known items in the category–and the latest stats say ALL smart thermostats are installed in maybe 4% of American homes. 😉

  2. Hello!
    Just wanted to point out the smart-home system “Zip The Fish”. It provides options for burglar protection, fully customizable heating control, electronic locks (also remotely accessible), a doorbell mechanism and lighting control.

  3. Thanks, Aaron. Article is well written. Internet of Things solutions are now solving business problems across many markets all over the world. There are many different vertical markets that have most adopted IoT solutions and one of them is Smart home which you have describe above. By IOT Solution homeowners can now monitor their properties remotely and in real-time.

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