Our homes today are smarter than they’ve ever been before, and they’re only going to get smarter.With the rise of products from companies like Nest and SmartThings — which make intuitive, web-enabled gadgets that adjust themselves — we’re getting closer to a day where our homes do more for us than just give us a place to rest our heads at night.
We’ve also seen some other elements of the future home take shape, like web-connected TVs, home appliances, and sound systems that you can control from anywhere in your home using a smartphone.
There were about 821 million smart devices sold last year, with 1.2 billion expected to be sold last year, according to Gartner, so there’s a huge opportunity to make our everyday objects smarter.
A new non-profit group, the Internet of Things Consortium, recently formed with just that in mind. Its primary goal is to help the makers of Internet-connected products and services collaborate with each other, and further grow the network-connected devices industry.
Given the IoTC’s commitment to network-connected devices and the number of companies already working on home automation tools, our homes will undoubtedly go through some big changes in the next 10 years.
Tiny sensors, like GreenPeak's ZigBee RF4CE, can be used in things like light switches, doors, windows, thermostats, and fitness devices.
By using these kind of sensors, homeowners could easily monitor and control things like the temperature, doors, TVs, and other appliances.
GreenWave Reality recently received approval to start selling Wi-Fi light bulbs in the U.S. These bulbs let you use your iPhone to do things like program your home lighting, and turn on or off all of your lights at once.
Since those are LED light bulbs rather than incandescent bulbs, they will also be eligible for Energy Star rebates.
Microsoft is testing a prototype of an operating system for the home. The idea is to let you control everything in your house via a smartphone or PC.
Its current prototype supports devices like light switches, cameras, and TVs, as well as appliances. Already, people have developed a few implementations for HomeOS, like a system that monitors your home's energy consumption in real-time, a mobile surveillance system that you can control from your smartphone, and a platform for giving your appliances 'muscle memory.'
For example, you could program the system in a way that whenever the door opens, the lamps turn on automatically.
Bossa Nova Robotics has developed a prototype called mObi that will serve as your personal assistant.
Mobi stands on a large ball and can secure a tablet on top for doing things like facilitating conversations via Skype.
The founders have compared it to the robot maid, Rosie, from The Jetsons. While it's not yet available, Boss Nova Robotics hopes to bring it to the market this year for less than $5,000.
Companies like Samsung and LG have already started making smart refrigerators. Samsung recently showed off a refrigerator at CES that runs Android apps like Evernote and Epicurious.
LG, on the other hand, recently launched a smart refrigerator that serves as a complete food management system. That means you can do things like shop online from your refrigerator, scan your groceries into the system to track them as they get old, and receive recipe suggestions based on what is in your fridge.
If you know you want to bake a batch of cookies, you'll soon be able to remotely pre-heat the oven. With LG's recently-unveiled Smart Oven, you can select the perfect recipe from the oven's recipe database using the accompanying smart phone app. From there, the oven will preheat itself to the right temperature.
If you're also using LG's Smart Refrigerator, you'll be able to send settings from the refrigerator to your oven.
The Philips Hue system lets you control the actual colour of your lights from your iOS device.
The Philips Hue combines three LEDs into one bulb to offer 16 million colours to light your house in. It also offers a bunch of different lighting settings for creating the right mood in your house, like 'Relax' or 'Beach.'
If Corning has its way, touchscreen displays will eventually be embedded into things like closet doors, dining room tables, and other surfaces.
These screens would have their own operating system, and would be able to transfer information from a smaller display, like a tablet, to a larger display.
The SmartThings platform connects everyday objects to the Internet to make them smarter.
The SmartThings hub serves as a bridge between everyday objects and its cloud-based platform. It gives you motion detectors, moisture sensors, open-close detectors, and other types of tools to place around your house. Using the SmartThings mobile app, you can easily monitor your objects.
As of right now, SmartThings is pre-selling kits for home security, tracking the whereabouts of loved ones, and monitoring things like temperature and moisture in your house when you're away.
Since the SmartThings platform is totally open to developers, there's no telling what other solutions people will build.
Smart thermostats will, and already, let you control your home's temperature even when you're not there.
The Nest Learning Thermostat is probably one of the most well-known smart appliances out there today.
Nest learns your schedule and programs itself to help you save energy. You can also control the temperature using Nest's mobile apps.
Sonos has a variety of home music systems that make it dead simple to wirelessly manage all of your music in your home.
Using the mobile app, your computer, or the official Sonos controller, you can do things like create playlists for any room in your home and individually control the volume in every room.