Pick any article on smart home technology and it almost invariably begins by asking you to imagine coming home where the heating or cooling has been turned up while you were on your way, the door unlocks as you approach, and when you walk in the lights are on and set just the way you like them. While evocative, it’s easy to get lost in a hazy view of an imagined future, without gaining any real understanding on what smart home technology is, let alone how it’s going to apply to your life.
In this article we aim to give you an overarching view of what is possible today in terms of home technology, as well as furnish concrete examples of the technology in action.
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7 Ways to Use Smart Home Technology to Take Your Home to the Next Level
As outlined in our home automation article, home technology has evolved from the simple and mechanical automation of tools (for example, your coffee pot turning on by itself in the morning). These days home automation is about intelligent devices and technologies that can analyse data they get from their sensors, communicate with each other, and optimize the performance of their tasks without any great input from you.
What this means is that in a smart home, you are leveraging the Internet of Things (IoT) so that your appliances, lighting, heating, air conditioning, computers, TVs and stereo, security and camera systems all “talk” with each other, working both on a time schedule and by being remotely controlled from any room in your home, as well as remotely from any where in the world using just your phone or a computer with internet connection.
So, how does this apply to you? Let’s take a look at how implementing smart home technology will take your home to the next level in terms of ease, comfort and security, and dramatically improve your quality of life.
Automatically monitor every angle of your property – inside and out – quickly, effectively & completely.
A seamless luxury home experience starts with security.
Inside the smart home, you can do more than simply “set the alarm”, you can automatically monitor every angle of your property to get a full view of what is happening without leaving the comfort of your chair.
Smart security tools like Nest and PresencePro make it possible for you to remotely access and manage any part of the modern home security network – alarms, cameras, motion detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, locks, etc. – from any smartphone or tablet with an internet connection.
From a security standpoint, this level of intelligence and functionality amongst devices can’t be understated. If the doorbell rings and you want to know who’s there before opening the door, just pull out your smartphone and look at the real-time video feed to see who’s standing outside.
When contractors are working on the house while you’re traveling on vacation, you can simply access your Nest Cam to make sure everything looks safe and secure.
Unexpected guests arriving from out of town and you’re not home? No need to worry because smart locks from companies like Latch allow for keyless entry—simply unlock the door from your smartphone.
These are just a small few of the smart security technologies that savvy luxury homeowners are starting to install in their homes.
#2: Climate Control
Create the ideal climate for you and your family inside your ideal home.
There are few things as dissatisfying as walking into a sweltering house in the summer, or freezing house in the winter.
Unfortunately, running the heater or the air conditioner at full blast all-day is not an option.
Not only a waste of money, it’s a waste of energy that further scars the already beat-up environment.
Smart thermostats do more than turn down the H/VAC system when the house is empty, they automatically turn down or turn off heating and air conditioning inside individual rooms. That means when you leave the bedroom on that toasty July morning to go downstairs and have breakfast, the smart thermostat will recognize the bedroom is no longer occupied, and no longer in need of energy-consuming A/C.
And because smart thermostats can monitor the utility usage and climate statistics in every room of your luxury home, they can help you make informed decisions about your entire household’s energy usage and preferred temperature settings. This means you can create a “goldilocks environment” for your entire family—not too hot, not too cold, just right.
Most importantly, smart thermostats—like all other smart technologies—can be accessed and controlled straight from your smartphone. So, if your in-laws are borrowing the lake house, and you want to make sure it’s nice and cool when they arrive, you can simply access the smart thermostat from your smartphone and turn on the air conditioning.
It’s easy, it’s effortless, and it’s just one more way smart home tech is streamlining the way luxury homeowners live.
#3: A State-of-the-Art Kitchen
Build a kitchen that caters to your every need.
If you’re looking to create a truly seamless lifestyle in your luxury home, owning a Sub-Zero fridge or Viking range doesn’t cut it anymore. Everything in your kitchen, from the refrigerator to the oven, needs to be as smart as the rest of the house.
Refrigerators like The Family Hub not only store food, but they actually monitor the food they’re storing. When the sliced turkey expires or the coconut La Croix run out, this refrigerator automatically adds those items to a digital grocery list that syncs with your smartphone.
And for luxury homeowners who don’t go to the grocery store, this refrigerator syncs with 3rd party shopping services like Instacart to automatically place orders for any key items that might be running out, like eggs or milk.
How much time, effort, and hassle could a refrigerator like that eliminate from your week?
Or consider the June Oven—an intelligent convection oven that can automatically recognize foods, and cook them to absolute perfection. No more bone-dry roast chicken. No more charred-black cookies. No more undercooked salmon. The June eliminates any and all margins of error.
More importantly, the oven is wifi enabled with a built-in camera so you can watch your food cook from your smartphone or tablet. You can even adjust the temperature of the oven from the June app, and receive a reminder when it’s time to take the food out.
#4: Responsive Lighting
Have smart lighting solutions for optimal light – no matter what time of day, or who is home
Smart lighting solutions make it possible for you to enjoy optimal lighting—lighting that is not only reflective of the time of day, but lighting that is also reflective of the room, and the room’s purpose.
For instance, in the morning a smart lighting system like MySmartBlinds can make sure the blinds covering your bedroom windows open gradually, in-sync with the rising sun. This ensures luminosity of your bedroom is never higher or lower than what’s outside, all but guaranteeing a more complete sleep cycle that’s better for your health.
Additionally, smart lighting solutions can be synced with motion detectors, which means if you walk out of the bathroom but forget to flip the switch, the lights will turn off automatically.
But smart lighting isn’t just for practical application, it can also enrich aesthetics of your home.
Consider, for a moment, innovative lighting technologies like the Philips Hue, a smart light bulb that can drastically change the ambiance in any room at the drop of a hat. Different colors, different shades, and different intensities…you can adjust all kinds of settings from a smartphone-based app.
There are even different modes—pre-programmed settings designed to provide the perfect atmosphere for recurring events like “dinner with friends,” “family movie night,” and “nightcap”.
And remember earlier when our smart home conversation was hitting on the topic of security?
Well, a smart home enabled with smart lighting makes it possible to turn the lights on and off inside your home even when you’re sitting on beach in Santorini or skiing down the slopes in Whistler. To potential burglars, “lights-on” mean “people are home”.
#5: Minimal Outdoor Work
Automate garden maintenance to reduce demands on your or someone else’s time
Perhaps the nicest feature of luxury home automation is that it actually isn’t limited to the physical home.
Tasks that once required an hours-long commitment over the weekend, or hiring a groundskeeper—things like mowing the lawn, cleaning the pool, and watering the back garden—can now be accomplished through a few taps on your smartphone or tablet.
Smart lawn mowers like the Husqvarna Automower® use GPS-assisted assisted navigation to not only navigate their way around lawns, but also monitor prevailing weather patterns to estimate grass growth so the lawn is cut neither too frequently or infrequently.
Automated pool cleaners connect to home Wi-Fi networks, for anytime-anywhere monitoring of pool cleanliness levels, as well as easy remote scheduling.
Smart sprinkler systems give you the freedom and flexibility to control watering right from their smartphone. Devices like Rachio automatically connect to the internet via your home’s wifi to create optimized watering schedules that consider your local weather forecast, your seasonal sunlight hours, and the vegetation you’ve planted to ensure soils remain optimally saturated at all times.
The bottom line?
Automated exterior maintenance means your home can enjoy a healthy and vibrant outdoor space all year round, minimising the time required for you to maintain it yourself, or the seasonal expense of landscapers, groundskeepers, pool cleaners, and other 3rd party property-care companies.
#6: That Something Extra
Take your home to the next level by investing in extraordinary amenities
If you are looking to take things up a notch, there are extras amenities and comforts that separate the ordinary home from the extraordinary one – things that make life just a little more pain- and stress-free.
Take, for example, Ori Systems’ smart furniture that can literally move itself, or the robotic bartender from Somabar. Now you can reshape your luxury living spaces or mix the perfect Manhattan at the touch of a button—no couches to move, no tumblers to shake.
Advances in home automation have even made everyday comforts that much more comfortable.
Companies like Sleep Number and ReST have created beds that literally know your body. When you lay down, sensors measure height, weight, and pressure points to identify you, before automatically adjusting the bed to create your ideal sleeping environment.
#7: Centralised Control
Simplify your life – manage dozens of apps and technologies with one device
So far we’ve been looking at individual smart technologies that can think about (and perform) various household tasks in a way they’ve never been automated before.
But to make the luxury home a truly self-reliant (automated) entity, all of these disparate technologies – the refrigerator, the sprinklers, the washing machine, the lawn mower, and so on – need to be able to speak with each other.
They need a conduit through which they can be both controlled, and allowed to share key information for optimal performance.
Enter the “hub”.
In the brain that is your smart home, the hub is the connective tissue that links everything together to create an in-home environment unlike any you have ever experienced.
It is how different smart devices made by different companies and for different purposes can actually interact.
That’s why all luxury homes need a hub of some kind. Without the hub, you’re forced to manage dozens of smart home technologies through dozens of independent apps. The hub simplifies things, giving luxury homeowners a single portal through which they can control every arm of their smart home.
Some of the most popular hubs include, the Amazon Echo and Echo Dot, Google Home, and Apple HomeKit, but they are by no means the only ones available. Others include, Savant, Crestron, Control4, Vantage Controls, and Elan Home Systems.
The future of the smart home and home automation
For all of its groundbreaking advances, the smart home industry is still in a nascent era.
No, the at-home experience has never been this seamless (nor have at-home technologies ever been this “intelligent”), but with the continuing (and rapid) development of artificial intelligence, the at-home experience of tomorrow is going to become more harmonious than you or we can possibly imagine right now.
As at-home devices become better able to recognize, monitor, and analyze observable data, it will become easier and easier for these utilities to provide truly custom in-home experiences.
To be clear, this isn’t a future of if but when. These advancements are a certainty, so long as technology and Articificial Intelligence continue to evolve. Within the decade, it’s reasonable to assume that luxury homes will be far more autonomous than they are now.
What home automation means for you
For luxury homeowners with foresight and vision, home automation is viewed as the standard, not the exception. Being able to easily control all aspects of house and home—from patio lighting to oven temperature—with just a few swipes on a smartphone is the level of convenience that more and more luxury homeowners are growing to expect.
Is end-to-end home automation cheap? No, of course not. But is it worth it? Here at Fulcrum Custom Builders, our answer is an unequivocal yes. Of course, the ultimate value depends on what you would like to achieve with home automation, your current home situation and what technologies you choose to invest in. But we do know that many smart home technologies pay for themselves over time. And some of the intangible benefits – like enhanced security, comfort and greater peace of mind – are priceless.
Not only are qualitative reasons such as “greater security”, “comfort” or “peace of mind” valid in themselves, we also find that they often translate into quantitative benefits such as cost savings and enhanced resale value.
How do you imagine smart home technology changing your life? Do you already have a hub installed in your home? Share your thoughts and comments with us below!