Ever watch an episode of The Jetsons and wonder when the futuristic fantasy of home automation would become our reality?
The dream of laundry being started, air conditioning turned on and dinner ready—all by the time you arrive home from work—is coming to fruition as smart home technology is currently one of the fastest-advancing industries. From home security to appliances to entertainment devices, smart products are rolling out and keeping up with consumer demand in a big way. It was reported that almost two billion smart home devices were sold worldwide in 2015 and is expected to rise to nine billion in the next two years.
“We’ve found convenience items like lighting, HVAC and entertainment controls are the most popular,” says Ron Wanless, owner of Bend-based Technology Design Associates.
Wanless has been in the industry for over 34 years and loves the challenge of creating products to enhance his clients’ lifestyles and giving them access to the latest and greatest technology.
Companies like GE, Control4 and Savant are pouring millions of dollars into smart home development with the goal of integrating remote access from cars, phones and products working off personal profiles and preferences. Fully-integrated apps appear to be the key to the smart home market.
“Any manufacturer in the smart home technology industry knows by now that if you don’t have a remote access application for your smart device operation, your product will not sell,” explains Wanless.
Current research is also focused on “wearables”—such as watches and fitness trackers—becoming smaller and easier to use, while phones and tablets are getting bulkier and less convenient in a hands-free world.
These days, more people are choosing centralized streaming over cable television. A plethora of online services, such as Amazon, Netflix and Hulu, transmit new and old shows and movies through devices like Google Chrome, Sonos and Apple TV. These types of entertainment products are extremely popular because of commercial-free content and remote access from phones and tablets.
The New Normal
With smart home technology, full home control devices work from one platform that coordinates the entire ecosystem of your home. Several products on the market allow full control with the touch of an iOS or Android app. Everything from adjusting your thermostat to surround sound and home security is controlled from one hub. If you’re not ready to fully integrate your home but want to try out some smart products, consider voice-activated smart speakers that not only play music but control the surround sound in your entertainment areas.
Smart thermostats control the temperature in every room of the house with full remote access, a product that experts say should’ve been on the market ages ago. And if you want to get really fancy, there’s a smart refrigerator on the market that has a built-in tablet, acting as a calendar, a stereo and a television. The refrigerator has built-in cameras that let you know when you are out of food. No more guessing whether you need to pick up more milk or eggs from the grocery store.
Smart Homes in Central Oregon
Locally, Central Oregon homeowners are as savvy as the rest of the world when it comes to smart technology.
“Our area has come back strong for the smart home industry with many having second homes elsewhere and wanting the ability to monitor and maintain their homes in Central Oregon,” says Wanless. “New home buyers are demanding technology in their homes because it’s become more the norm than the exception.”
While we may still be a long way from spaceships and teleportation devices, it’s clear home automation is leading us into the future.