At tech conferences or showcases like the Consumer Electronics Show, the words on everyone’s lips are “home automation.” Want to control all your audio and entertainment remotely? There’s an app for that. Want your door to click open as soon as you approach? A special key fob and lock can take care of that for you. Want your thermostat to note when you’re a few miles away from the house so it can start warming the place up for you? Easy — for a price.
Yup, as the Internet of Things emerges, expanding the ranks of interconnected devices, an automated home is quickly becoming a reality. Home automation is due to become a $44 billion industry by 2017, according to an industry report cited by CNN, rising rapidly from this year’s estimated $10 billion.
When thinking about a smart home, you’d be forgiven for dreaming of a house like Tony Stark’s mansion, ruled over by a centralized computer like his J.A.R.V.I.S, crooning commands to the thermostat, speakers and front door in Paul Bettany’s soothing brogue.
The reality is a bit different.
As Tony Faddell, CEO of the smart Thermostat maker Nest said at Business Insider’s Ignition Conference, the idea of a fully automated home remains somewhat unrealistic.
Faddell claimed that the idea of a centralized automated home system that controls everything is mostly the vision of “single geeky guys,” adding that families with children are unlikely to fill their homes with components that may break easily or require a change in lifestyle.
In addition, it's also worth mentioning that the more connected your home is, the more vulnerable you may be to hacking attacks or potentially even identity theft.
In other words, for most of us, an Einstein-level smart home is still well off in the future. Home automation is still a nascent field. As Fadell noted, there are a multitude of different products from different providers, many with their own proprietary connection protocols and software, all with their own pros and cons. Getting everything set up is not for the faint-hearted, and God or the Geek Squad help you should anything go wrong.
But the question then becomes this: What would it cost to have a home that doesn’t necessarily run itself but actually makes life more comfortable? A place where you can come home late at night to lights that slowly turn on, your favorite music automatically billowing from sightless speakers and a thermostat that sees you coming and pumps out fresh air that’s not too warm, not too cold?
Click here to see six items that can bring your home closer to that vision, and what they will cost you. A truly smart home may still be years away for most of us, but these devices can sharply boost your current home’s IQ.
Top Reads From The Fiscal Times: