Smart homes link independent pieces of hardware and technology, allowing them to be controlled through a central software.  Apps allow things to be adjusted by voice, a touch screen, or sensors in a room.

More and more home appliances are becoming smart, and soon everything in a house will be smart, maybe even genius!

Imagine coming home and your door unlocks automatically because your smartphone is in your pocket.  No more digging around in your pocket for your keys when your hands are full.  Once you’re inside, the lights come on automatically and your latest favorite musical playlist starts playing over your speakers.

You have set up your home so a voice-activated virtual assistant serves as your universal remote — controlling your home-security system, lights, temperature, blinds, TV, multiple speakers throughout the home,  and so on. There’s no more worrying whether you left the lights or the stove on, or the front door unlocked; you can check remotely from your smartphone.

In the morning, your coffee is ready by the time you get out of bed. If you want, a morning traffic and weather report can automatically play through your speakers, advising you when to head out to make it on time. And, if the mail carrier tries to deliver a package while you’re out, you can use your smart doorbell to tell them where to securely leave it.

This future that was promised us is here. All this technology already exists and can be purchased and installed to make your life easier.

The Key Players in the Race for a Smarter Home

Amazon (Echo), Google (Home), Samsung (SmartThings), and Apple (HomeKit) offer the leading smart-home-unification solutions. Meanwhile, new and established electronics and appliance makers are racing to invent new and evolving technology — from internet and network connectivity, to sensors, to artificial intelligence — into normal, everyday items.

Amazon’s Echo really created the tipping point for the connected home, offering voice enabled control.

Other players in the smart home space use an open platform and can be operated from any wifi connected tablet.  Samsung SmartThings and Apple HomeKit have an expansive ecosystem of third-party smart home devices.

However every month new competitors are entering this space, offering consumers many options with varying levels of connectedness.

How Are Consumers Using THIS NEW, Connected TechNOLOGY?

People are connecting these smart home hubs to compatible electronics — TVs, speakers, doorbells, thermostats and so on .  This creates a powerful network by combining multiple smart devices, and it makes it seem as though our “dumb,” disconnected home electronics are relics from the stone age.

These smart home softwares can be taught your daily routine, or remember a suite of commands to create different home scenarios.

These large tech companies are trying to provide alternative means for people to interact with their services.  People tend to buy into smart home technology through a single category at first — for example, a smart speaker for entertainment, or a Nest thermostat for comfort and convenience.  A smart home is more than simply having a few connected devices in the home that make certain elements of home life easier. You may have bought a smart doorbell and a smart speaker for two different reasons, but when they work in concert you can play a customized doorbell ringtone throughout the home. It’s the interplay between these various smart devices that delivers the ultimate value.  The total is greater than the sum of its parts.

The Rise of the Smart Home

A do-it-yourself approach — that is, buying a couple of devices online and trying them out, then adding to the network as you go along — is rapidly growing in popularity. Markets indicate that home security and remote home monitoring are popular entry points, after which people tend to migrate toward lights, voice assistants and entertainment systems. However, not everyone has the knowledge, time or patience to set up an off-the-shelf device.

“I would say people are excited about the technology in general. They like the idea of it… but the integrations often rely on third-party services,” says Dean Winters, an integrator with Canadian smart home installer HomeSync, as well as a product manager of HomeSync affiliate HeroPin, which makes an Uber-like app technician-dispatch app.

The rising adoption rate of connected devices has created an opportunity for companies like HeroPin and California-based competitor HelloTech to capitalize on the service industry around the technology. HomeSync, which tends to do larger, custom-install jobs, created HeroPin after calls started rolling in from people who’d bought off-the-shelf smart home products and needed basic setup help. Winters says just the tech support business around smart homes is already a multi-billion-dollar industry.

That said, the smart home — at least, as it currently stands — still appears to elude the majority of average households. According to multiple market-research studies, smart home penetration currently sits at between 15–20 percent of North American households.

Simon Bryant, associate director at British market-research firm Futuresource Consulting, says some smart devices aren’t properly captured in market analytics because the products themselves are spread out across various retail and service sectors.

It may seem like a relatively paltry percentage of households that have adopted smart home technology, but global research agrees that the trend is absolutely heading in an upward direction. Bryant points to Futuresource’s data from Europe that indicates smart home penetration has doubled and even tripled in some markets.

And, according to Statista, smart home revenue in the U.S. is projected to reach $14.6 billion in 2017, and $32.2 billion in 2021. And, as London-based analytics and research firm IHS Markit estimates, 34 percent of North American households will have at least one smart home device by 2025.

By then, owning a smart home device may no longer be a choice. “We’re getting to that point where it’s not really a choice that consumers have. Today it is, but tomorrow you’re going to buy a light switch and it’s going to be a smart light switch [because it’s the same cost to the manufacturer],” says Winters.

Meanwhile, Winters predicts that there will come a day — probably sooner than we think — that there isn’t a non-smart option available to people shopping for household electronics and appliances. “I think it’s just going to get to a point where you’re buying a speaker, and they’re all smart speakers,” he continues. “Whether you buy into it or not, the smart home is here.”