Creating the Smartest Home on the Block

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future home illustration

Want a home that does almost everything for you? Technology is getting there! These smart devices are just the latest wave of making life easier.

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Houses are getting more intelligent by the day. There was a time when you had to put a key in a lock to open it, had to walk all the way to the thermostat to turn it to the right temperature, and even had to flick on your own lights when you walked into a room. Now, all of that and much more is done for you, usually with the touch of a single button — or simply by walking toward a certain part of the house.

What seemed too good to be true a few years ago is now reality. Here’s what you can expect from some of the smartest home devices on the market.

Smarter locks

Remember when a key was required to open a door? First it was cars that took it to a whole new level with push-button combination locks, and later, with proximity locks that opened the doors as you approached. Now you can have that same convenience on every door of your home.

Most of these locks use bluetooth technology, and if you have your smartphone or a key fob on your person, the door will unlock and you might even see a specialized greeting on the tiny screen. As an added bonus, smart locks can turn off your typical burglar with the fact that there is no way to pick the lock with traditional instruments.

Smarter lights

Remember the clapper? It was the butt of many jokes, but it was also a genius little gadget that really did make life easier — assuming you could stand the loud clapping that it required.

Today’s smart lights take note from that little gadget that now do the same thing that smart locks do: They turn the lights on and off, depending upon proximity. You walk into a room, it lights up for you. You can even set certain lights on dimmers to do what you need them to do. For instance, the light beside your favorite chair is brighter for the purposes of reading, while the light in the corner lamp is lower, for ambiance.

The best thermostats

You’ve already heard plenty about programmable thermostats, and how they make life easier, not to mention making a big dent in your energy bills. But as thermostats become more advanced, they are actually able to learn on their own, thus eliminating the need for programming at all.

Besides that, now some thermostats have sensors that detect when someone is in the room, and thus adjust accordingly. They learn over time when someone is likely to be in the house, and remember that information in order to give you the most comfortable atmosphere possible. All you have to do is come and go as usual.

Better home security

Sure, security alerts via your smartphone have been available for years. But the next generation of security systems offer much more. Today’s wireless smart security systems offer small sensors you can put throughout the home that sense everything from water leaks to smoke to carbon monoxide to an area getting too cold during the winter.

You can even install sensors that tell you when the cat jumps up on the forbidden kitchen counter. Facial recognition software can alert you to someone around the house that doesn’t fit an image in the personalized database. All of these alerts are sent to the place of your choice: Computer, smartphone, text, you name it.

Smarter comforts

Want to keep your home comfortable for the pets in the house? Smart blinds can activate themselves and roll down when the temperature at the window gets to be a little too much. Water and food bowls can automatically dispense more of what your pet needs when their food or water gets low.

Remember those smart thermostats? Some of them are sensitive enough to sense pets, and change the temperature to make them more comfortable. You can even indulge in a system that mimics the sunlight moving across the floor — perfect for the pets, but also for you, if you need something gentler than a beeping alarm to wake up in the morning.

Leaps and bounds

Creating a smarter home can start with these new gadgets, but be prepared for upgrades. As technology grows by leaps and bounds, soon it won’t be unusual to have your refrigerator ordering food from the grocery store or your nightlights flicking on when they detect the sound of your footsteps. Who knows what 2016 will bring?

 

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Shannon Dauphin Lee

Shannon Dauphin Lee is a journalist and occasional novelist with a serious weakness for real estate. When she's not writing, she and her husband are taking road trips to explore covered bridges, little wineries and quaint bed-and-breakfast inns in their beloved Pennsylvania.