It’s early days still for smart home technology. While most people are familiar with (and comfortable with) innovations like the Nest thermostat, there are signs that smart home tech is struggling to move past the early adopter phase and into the mass market. One of the main roadblocks to mainstream adoption is the glut of devices, networks and apps that have been required to automate a single home.
The short term solution to this technological fragmentation has been the expansion of cross-platform compatibility via closed ecosystems. Google Home, for instance, connects seamlessly with devices like Chromecast, Nest and Philips Hue to give people power over everything from lighting to temperature to entertainment systems. But systems, in general, are growing ever more integrated and it’s a great time to start making your home smarter.
Here are six ways to adopt smart home technology:
- Identify what you want to change
A smart home can be as unique as its owner. Consider why home automation appeals to you and let that inspire your setup. Is safety a top priority or do you want to be able to control your home from afar? There are home automation systems and products designed to meet just about every need, from cleaner windows to lower energy bills.
- Make going green a priority
Eco-consciousness is one reason people are drawn to home control systems. According to the EPA, a simple programmable thermostat can reduce energy usage by 10-30% but most households don’t use them correctly. Leaving the lights on is too easy, and finding points of phantom power drain are tough. Home automation is a way to go green without having to make big changes or do a lot of work.
- Don’t forget about simple comfort
Home automation products can also improve the quality of life. The ability to come home to an already warm house and a piping hot electric kettle has its appeal. As does a smart fridge that never lets you get too low on groceries or smart shades that open and close with voice commands.
To some, these types of lifestyle innovations may seem frivolous, but once you’ve lived in a well-connected home it’s hard to go back. So where is there room for improvement in your life?
- Integrate what’s most important
It’s not hard to argue that security and environmental controls are among the more important elements of home automation. While it may be some time before integrated home control systems include the functionality of standalone products like Petzi (which lets you chat with your pet and dispense treats), there are robust home automation systems available that give homeowners control of a security system, lighting, temperature controls, and more via a single app. If your goal is to create a well-connected home, start with an integrated system.
- Experiment with home automation products
As previously mentioned, fragmentation is one of the most frustrating things about smart home tech as it exists today. That means there’s no harm in experimenting with standalone products. What should you add? Neato’s XV Signature Pro is a smarter floor cleaning robot. Investing in items that help fulfil daily chores or activities is a great way to experiment with home automation products.
- Don’t expect to live like the Jetson’s – yet
While it’s been predicted that there will be more than 80 million active home automation systems in the United States by 2021, the technology is still evolving. Today’s smart home isn’t quite the home of the future writers were envisioning back in the forward-thinking exhibits of the Twentieth Century’s World’s Fairs, but seamless home automation is coming.
Less expensive total-home systems for retrofitting current construction are now hitting the market along with comprehensive built-in systems for newer construction. More importantly, new systems will learn faster and need less oversight from people to do what they were designed to do. As tempted as you may be to wait for these more sophisticated smart home systems, checking out the options available today will help encourage the mainstream adoption that will drive future innovation.