The Connected Home of the Future is Now—and You Can Have It

The stuff of science fiction has arrived at home, and it’s not just for Silicon Valley magnates building the latest mansion. Entrepreneurs, large companies and other innovators have been bringing a flood of new products to the category called “connected home” that can help us get more done, conserve resources and improve safety. Not only does that make the home more efficient and comfortable to be in, but when you’re not home you can get status messages and respond wirelessly.

Take, for example, the home protection system from Canary, which connects with your device to sense when you come home, so it won’t send out a false alarm. It also uses sensors, a microphone and an HD camera to keep track of your home’s environment, including air quality and humidity. When you’re away and something unusual happens, Canary will send you a video of the event so you can decide what to do—and if you don’t respond, it will contact your backup friend list in your order of choice until someone gets the message. It even “learns” the patterns in your home so it can tell the typical family shenanigans from the unexpected.

“Today you can have a smart home for hundreds [of dollars], not thousands,” says Steve Koenig, Director of Industry Analysis for The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA). “With so many wireless households, a lot of modules that previously had to be wired and built into the walls can now be placed anywhere in the home,” he explains. “With the smartphone as the central controller, you can control smart home devices from anywhere in the world you can get the Internet.”

Here are a few of Koenig’s favorite connected home gadgets and innovations.

Intelligent thermostats and light bulbs save energy.

“I’m on a business trip right now, but I turned off the heat at home. And when I get on the plane to head home, I will turn it back on and it will be toasty when I arrive. Everyone wants to save energy and money. These devices can ostensibly pay for themselves.”

Connected door locks and cameras help improve security.

“There are cameras you can just place anywhere to monitor activity in and around your home when you are away. With the connected door lock, a kid coming home after school doesn’t need to have a key that can be lost or stolen. He can access the house with 2-factor authentication: the door lock includes a fingerprint scan and senses the proximity of his cell phone. And his parents can then get a text telling them that their child is home.”

Special connected home showcases in stores help you pull it all together.

“A lot of retailers have initiated curated merchandising areas to showcase connected home products. These solutions can scale, so you can have as few or as many as you like. There are kits that get you started with a single camera and a door sensor or sophisticated bundles. You’ll see connected systems and showcases at Lowe’s, Home Depot, Walmart, Best Buy, Staples and more.”