Many Americans imagine that robotics and artificial intelligence will help to simplify our everyday lives when it comes to the future of work and play. But smart technology is also becoming increasingly common in people's homes across the country.
From smart speakers to smart locks, more and more people are bringing smart living into their daily lives. In fact, up to 45% of homeowners had planned to install some kind of new technology in their homes in 2016, according to a U.S. Houzz Smart Home Trends Study.
Homeowners appreciate the simplicity smart technology brings to their personal lives and welcome its ease and convenience.
With smart home technology, homeowners can lock their doors with a few swipes on their smartphone, adjust the temperature in their living room simply by speaking to Amazon Echo, and turn off the lights in the bedroom when it is time for bed.
Here’s where smart technology has taken us so far and where its accelerating popularity is set to bring us in the future:
Alexa, Where are We? Today's Smart Technology
Today, one in every ten American homes has five or more smart devices, and one in every twenty uses smart lighting. What's more, up to 25% of all renovating homeowners in 2016 installed some kind of smart security device in their home.
One reason smart technology has made its way into the American home so easily is due to the Millennial generation's entrance into the real estate market.
Millennials, who grew up during the digital revolution, are considered the key embracers of smart home technology. Their easy rapport with technology, coupled with increasingly affordable products, explains the surge in smart home technology installation in 2017.
The Smart Home Technology of Tomorrow
As smart home technology becomes more affordable and easier to use, more homeowners—not just the Millennial generation—are welcoming smart devices and AI into their homes. In fact, recent developments in smart home technology promise a "home-of-tomorrow" that can help monitor occupants' health and well-being.
For instance, Z-Wave smart home technology offers a number of solutions to common eldercare challenges; this will be paramount as the Baby Boomer generation begins to age and retire.
Approximately 12 million American seniors may need long-term care by 2020. With smart home technology, Generation X and Millennials will have the ability to take care of their loved ones without limiting seniors' independence.
Tomorrow's smart home technology is also predicted to become more integrated into the home itself. For example, it will be more common to have security surveillance systems that use facial recognition and remind homeowners to lock doors, turn off lights, and lower thermostats.
The progression of smart home technology—making it more efficient, more customized, and more easily controlled—resembles that of other kinds of technology. For this reason, it is less complicated to predict the near future of smart home technology and to imagine its growing presence in American homes.
But how can we predict the smart home technology of the distant future?
Back to The Future: HGTV Addition
The near-future advancements of smart home technology are relatively easy to predict, because we assume that today's glitches will be solved with tomorrow's technology. However, the distant future of smart home technology depends on the average homeowner's needs and desires.
According to John Barrett, the head of Academic Studies at Nimbus Centre at the Cork Institute of Technology, smart home technology and the Internet of Things could bring a future of central-networking homes—a smart home community that is connected through technology.
"Perhaps water levels are rising in one part of the community," said Barrett to Forbes. "The smart home detects it. You spread an alarm to other areas of the community."
Barrett suggests other kinds of smart technology will communicate with one another as well. Imagine a smartwatch that can communicate to smart vehicles that the owner has a heart condition. In the event of an emergency, the appropriate medical assistance could be called, and the car could pull over independently.
Barrett's predictions certainly speak to the human experience. Despite its sometimes luddite critics, technology has always been used as a means to improve communication and understanding between people. For instance, Amazon Echo devices will soon allow users to voice call and video call one another without the use of a smartphone. Coupled with Z-Wave smart home technology, Amazon's Echo and Alexa devices help homeowners to effortlessly care for their family's home, no matter where they are in the world.
It's safe to say that the future of the smart home is one of improved communication and quality of living. Testing today's AI technology will lead to the development of better solutions for the future that will allow us to live, not just in a smart home, but in a smart life.