Home automation technology has been around for several decades in luxury houses. Due to the rise in smartphones and tablets, smart home technology is becoming easier to use and dramatically more affordable. Primarily driven by initiatives from security companies and more recently telecom and cable companies, their “smart lock” systems work with or replace traditional locks and deadbolts; granting keyless access to homeowners through Bluetooth and phone recognition technology. Thus allowing those owners to customize and monitor other entrants’ accesses (like a housekeeper, for example).
Through software platforms like Zonoff, several different automated devices in a household can be integrated and used collaboratively. For example, a text message can be sent to parents when their kids get home from school. Between the doors opening, and the lights or TV being turned on, the system can gauge if someone is home to stay rather than running in because they forgot something. Living room products can be integrated to automatically decipher whether to dim the lights and drop the window shades when a television is turned on during the day.
Another growing trend is digital backsplash, typically installed just above kitchen countertops and below cabinets where tiling would traditionally go. These smart walls can pull up security camera feeds, display pictures, kids’ artwork and can even be used to search the Internet for recipes, all with touch of your fingertips. One more major trend that is expected to soon be prominent in homes is interactive voice control. Not only can you have access to all sorts of features through a touch screen, you won’t even need to physically touch the screen to activate it. “Voice command and gesture control are definitely on the horizon,” according to Eric Thies co-founder and director of marketing for VIA international. Think of it as your home’s own version of Siri, or Jarvis for you Iron Man fans.
Still, for every WiFi-connected automation system in the home, there comes greater exposure to privacy and security risks. It can be surprisingly easy to hack into a stranger’s home through their automation systems. “As we bring the things in our homes onto the Internet, we run into the same kind of security concerns we have for any connected device: they could get hacked,” says Kashmir Hill from Forbes. However, a cloud-based software is also being developed that will enable providers to monitor the tech inside their clients’ homes to, in part, watch for digital intruders.
As with all technological advancements, there will be some downside. With increased awareness, there will likely be an effort to minimize the threat of having a hacked home and increase security, as is done with nearly all services that have some vulnerability.
The question now is: do the incredible benefits of having a smart home outweigh the inevitable risk?