Home automation has been around for decades and has dotted the landscape of countless science fiction films, yet only in recent years has home automation made inroads into mainstream US commercial markets. Previously, home automation was mired by high prices and prohibitively complicated DIY installation.
The next decade of home automation, however, is expected to reverse the trend of difficult, proprietary systems by infusing the home automation market with easily programmable devices that work on popular platforms.
Affordable Next-Generation Home Automation
The next-generation of home automation products, such as the Nest Learning Thermostat, sidesteps custom programming by being equipped with intelligent algorithms that help the thermostat adapt to changing conditions. Moreover, prices for next-generation home automation products are kept in check by relying on voice commands and Smart-phone applications.
Bluetooth and Wifi are slated to help in keeping the value of these products high – where standard connection interfaces can be employed, next-generation home automation companies like Nest and Lutron plan on employing them.
Innovative Solutions to Old Problems
Old home security systems were comparatively expensive because they relied on smart hubs to compensate for dumb devices. Because the next-generation of devices feature learning algorithms, the need for expensive hubs or costly installation and upkeep is sidestepped.
Consider the affordable WeMo Home Electronic Controller, which contains a motion sensor and miniature computer and plugs right into standard outlets. An iPod or lamp is then plugged into the adjacent plug and voila! – you have gained the ability to automate the product next-door to the WeMo for under fifty dollars. The WeMo, and similar products, allow automation based on a timer, motion in the area or even your discretion via phone app.
Home Automation and Price-Conscious Security
An upstart in the home automation field called SmartThings is creating inroads into the security subfield of home automation. The SmartThings Pack, priced just under two hundred dollars, features an app, cloud capabilities, a software development landscape and hub. The device is especially innovative in allowing users to install smart chips in regular devices not otherwise brought under the control of your phone.
Interestingly, SmartThings bolsters security by offering motion sensors that can dim the lights when you’re out or trigger the security alarm while the family is away for more than a specified time.
Magic or Upcoming Technology?
It was author Arthur C. Clarke who claimed that “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” Next-generation home automation is likely to look like magic to many newcomers but, in fact, sidestepping complex and proprietary hardware has made home automation increasingly affordable.
Most systems can be entirely operated from touch-screen products like Android and iPad tablets. Manufacturers may still try to hawk proprietary touch-screen devices, yet this expenditure is really unnecessary for anyone looking to get into home automation in 2014. Over the next five years, security, HVAC and even irrigation will be brought under central control by devices as ubiquitous as standard iPhones.
To illustrate the affordability of next-generation home automation devices, consider the Spacer by Lutron that sells for under $100. By simply pressing the play button on your TV’s remote, the Lutron Spacer dims the lights automatically. The only thing left to do is sit back and enjoy!