Technology / 02.21.2018

The top 6 tech products making new homes smarter

“Ok, Google,” say “Hi” to Alexa and “Hey” to Siri. No matter how you say it and which platform you’re accustomed to speaking to, the bottom line is tech is making a big splash in at-home convenience as builders such as Van Metre Homes and EYA design homes with built-in technology packages that create an always on environment.

Gone are the days of getting off the couch to turn your lights on or preheat the oven. Remember when you had to guess who that big-eyed bobblehead was outside your front-door as you peered into a tiny peep-hole? Now we see the person drive up to the garage while digital voices alert us that someone has entered the premises; as they walk to the door we broadcast a greeting through our smartphone’s doorbell video app.

It may seem a bit scary that your new home can practically read your mind, prepare your meals, and tuck you in at night, but there are a lot of advantages to smart home automation features. Cost and energy savings, convenience, and control are just the start.

What’s really driving home automation technology is safety and home security–in other words, peace of mind. A new mom or dad can check on their little one thanks to smart cameras and other technologies. If you can’t remember whether you closed the garage after you left, you can verify remotely with an app. Automated lighting is the new scarecrow for would-be bulgars. You can set your smart locks to turn on your smart lighting when you unlock the front door. With home automation technology, you can know what’s happening inside and outside of your house at all times–very smart indeed.

The market for one-off devices to make homes safer and more secure has grown steadily; it only makes sense that major real estate developers are integrating smart home automation into the construction process. Consumers are willing to pay a premium for these modern day conveniences–by 2020 the global smart home market is forecast at more than $40 billion. With smart home automation products on the rise, here’s a glance at some of the top tech trends that developers are starting to include in thoughtfully designed homes and communities.

1. Nest Learning Thermostat
My personal favorite, the Nest Learning Thermostat, has built-in Wi-Fi so you can remotely control the temperature from phone, tablet, or PC. The latest generation also has a larger display and a few more sensors than its predecessors, in addition to geofencing support and a furnace monitor. Nest Thermostat, on average saves me and other US customers about 10-12% on heating bills and about 15% on cooling bills. That breaks down to a savings of $131 to $145 a year, which means the Nest Thermostat can pay for itself in under two years.

2. 3M Filtrete Smart Air Filters

Diving into all the latest tech and smart technologies, I stumbled upon the one of the coolest products yet, and one that home builders may not have considered incorporating into their new construction homes, but absolutely should. Here’s why: the 3M Filtrete Smart Air Filters work exactly like their predecessors, but with a twist. In addition to the fact that these filters trap pet hair, dust, smoke and other unwanted airborne particles, there is a small yellow disc with a Bluetooth-connected pressure sensor that measures and monitors air flow through the filter. When a pressure drop is detected, less air is moving through the dirty filter-it is time to be replaced. What’s really smart is that the filter connects to an accompanying Filtrete Smart app (available for Android and Apple IOS) that provides even more info about the air quality of your home. The app will also notify you exactly when it’s time to swap in a new filter, so you don’t pay to replace a filter too soon or leave a dirty one installed too long. Affordable, informative and easy to install and manage, 3M’s latest product could be a gem for homebuilders to include in their latest new construction developments.

3. Amazon Echo and Echo Dot

The Echo is a Bluetooth speaker powered by Alexa, Amazon’s handy voice assistant. Alexa works with a number of smart home devices directly, and you can control most of the gadgets in your house by the sound of your voice. If you already have a favorite speaker, the inexpensive Echo Dot can connect to it and add Alexa functionality. The Echo Show is the option for a touch screen experience which allows for viewing search results and making video calls. Amazon also just unveiled a slew of new Echo devices coming soon which include the LCD-equipped Echo Spot, as well as the Alexa-spouting Big Mouth Billy Bass.

4. Philips Hue Bulbs
The Philips Hue line delivers with bulbs that let you not only control the intensity of the light, but also the color. They work with just about every system out there, from Alexa to Siri (using the Philips Hue Bridge 2.0).

5. June Intelligent Oven
The June is a smart countertop oven that comes with an array of high-tech features including Wi-Fi, a camera, and artificial intelligence that allow it to weigh, monitor, and cook just about anything without requiring much input from you at all. All you have to do is pop in what you want to eat, wait until the oven asks if the food is indeed what it thinks it is, select how you’d like it cooked, and let it do its thing.

6. ADT Pulse
You’ve probably heard of ADT and while ADT Pulse is certainly much more expensive than a DIY system, it offers capabilities those systems simply can’t, including 24/7 monitoring and customer support. It’s a full-featured home security system, and doubles as an automation platform for your other smart home devices.

In just 40 years, complete home automation systems have gone from high-tech curiosities to affordable and accessible modern home conveniences. Smart technologies are becoming standard new home features for real estate builders. In another 40 years, we’ll wonder how we ever lived without them.

Kendra Patterson

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