Believe it or not, the world is getting smarter.
No, our brains aren’t getting bigger. Humans today are just as fallible as they’ve ever been. Our society is certainly brighter than before, though.
How can that be? Well, you’re holding evidence in the palm of your hand. Whether you’re reading this on your smartphone or a (relatively) old-fashioned desktop device, you’re reaping the dividends of Moore’s Law, which has improbably persisted (albeit in modified form) since the 1960s.
You don’t have to peer under the hood of your computer or smartphone to understand how radically the world is changing with each passing year. Increasingly, all you need to do is ring your doorbell, turn on the lights, or adjust your thermostat.
Smart home technology is revolutionizing these mundane activities, and 2017 is poised to be a banner year. Here’s a look at five smart home technology trends likely to take off or accelerate this year.
1. Hubs Win Over Hubby
Does your home have a smart hub? Before the year is out, there’s a good chance it will. Next-generation hubs like Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Nest are seemingly more capable by the month. According to an excellent report by Digital Trends, these hubs are gobbling up device integrations and announcing cross-brand partnerships like there’s no tomorrow. With a well-integrated Alexa system, for instance, you can control all your home’s major systems, finish up your holiday shopping, and order a pizza as a reward — all without glancing at a screen.
2. Smart Doorbells Come Into Their Own
The next leap in home security is the smart doorbell. Video- and audio-equipped smart doorbells are responsive, low-cost sentry systems that let you monitor activity on your front steps, communicate with visitors and delivery people, and — yes — convince lurkers that you’re actually home when you’re actually nowhere to be found. As long as you have your smartphone with you, you’re never more than a few taps from your front door.
3. Passive Heating and Cooling Systems Get Smarter
For cost- and eco-conscious homeowners, any investment in energy efficiency is money well spent. One of the most conspicuous such investments: smart motorized blinds and shades. Many smart blind systems integrate with home automation hubs, empowering homeowners to brighten and darken their oversized windows on demand. On hot days, closed blinds can dramatically reduce air conditioning needs; when it’s colder, allowing sun to stream in can lighten home heating systems’ loads. Talk about a no-brainer.
4. Outdoor Entertainment Systems Move Downmarket
You don’t have to be a movie star or jet setter to own a world-class outdoor home entertainment system. Prices for outdoor speakers and panels have dropped precipitously in the past few years, and smart home integrations make it easier than ever to control outdoor audiovisual systems without running inside. Why not ditch the iPhone dock, with its tinny sound and unreliable Internet connection, for a setup that’s sure to impress your guests?
5. Touchscreens Control It All
Voice-controlled systems like Alexa are sleek, sexy and unobtrusive. But they’re not everyone’s cup of tea. Oversized smart home touchpanels offer an increasingly attractive alternative for visual types. Several companies make user-friendly touchpanels and touchscreens as large as 12 inches in diameter — bigger than your typical old-fashioned kitchen TV. And these screens aren’t just control panels: they’re also weather stations, system status monitors, and stereo remotes. It doesn’t take a genius to see the value in all that.
What smart home tech trends are you most excited about in the coming year?