Updated: Jan 12
Over the last few decades, our society has been obsessed with making things smarter. We see it in the transition from cell phones to smartphones, the new technology in our cars, and the number of appliances that now come with their own apps. There’s an exhilaration that comes from automating, streamlining, and technologizing our lives.
Here at Complete Solar, one thing we see as being very clear is that we’re only scraping the surface of smart devices. We anticipate automation technology and machine learning will soon help people manage nearly every part of their lives. Because so much of our time is spent in our own homes, it’s safe to assume the next generation of smart technology will begin as part of an overarching smart home system.
Here are the five ways we anticipate smart homes will change our lives in the near future.
1. Smart home technology will be interconnected on a single platform
The biggest names in technology are working on this piece right now. Google, Apple, Amazon. All of these huge companies with giant R&D budgets are working on building an app where smart devices can live and interact one with another.
If smart homes are to become mainstream like we expect them to, there will need to be a primary platform or app that lets people manage their smart devices. One of the complications with this is there are so many different smart devices, ranging from fridges to air conditioners, electrical panels to stoves, security cameras to thermostats, and there’s only more to come. Each of these smart devices will need to integrate seamlessly with 2-3 of the top smart home platforms, whether that ends up being Apple Home, Amazon Alexa, or Google Home, or something completely different.
While many of the largest tech companies are developing home automation apps, adoption continues to be a complication. Many people don’t know how to successfully use their Apple Home app, and they rarely have someone that can help them.
On the other hand, home security companies have home automation apps and have driven the adoption of their apps at a much larger scale than Apple and Google. For example, Alarm.com is the power player in making home security accessible. The main reason home security has had so much success is the 1-1 interaction with a sales rep and homeowner. Home security sales reps help their customers start using apps that make viewing home security features straightforward.
Before smartphones were a thing home security still existed and worked fine, but the creation, and more importantly adoption, of an app that gives users access to all their home security in one place, has been a game-changer for the home security industry.
Smart home automation needs a powerful app and adoption mechanism to make smart home technology truly successful.
Smart home tech is generally viewed as a nice to have, not a need-to-have. The need to have elements of home automation aren’t here yet, but we expect they’ll be here soon. In fact, we’ll go into detail on each of these up-and-coming smart home technologies in our next four bullet points.
2. Smart home tech will manage energy usage for your whole house
You had to know this was coming. As an energy provider, we have a lot of thoughts about energy—how it’s used, and how it affects our lives.
Right now, energy is produced to meet our maximum demand at any given time, the rest is stored or lost. The reality is, we use a fraction of the energy we actually produce. The inefficiencies are glaring. Most utility companies across the United States bill for energy on a tiered system where the energy used during “peak demand” times actually costs more than the energy used at different times of the day.
Imagine using machine learning and a smart home app to manage your energy usage for you. It turns on your air conditioning to supercool your house at the most inexpensive time. It runs your pool pump intermittently to gain efficiencies in energy usage. It tells your freezer when to turn on, how cold to get, and when to turn off. Smart devices connected to smart electrical panels like SPAN and others will help manage electricity usage to help you optimize your energy to be as inexpensive as possible.
Solar is in a key position to start turning this science fiction into a reality. Inverter manufacturers and other solar industry pros have already built energy monitoring tools that connect to solar energy systems, battery storage systems, and electrical panels. It’s not a far cry to build this same type of energy monitoring into existing infrastructure. Smart electrical panels and smart electrical panel add-ons are already available too. Building machine learning with accurate cost metrics and utility usage data will be the next big lift, and one Complete Solar hopes to help tackle.
3. Smart homes will make our water usage smarter
Similar to energy usage, another key area where our homes can and will get smarter has to do with how we use our water.
The most impactful way our water usage can be made smarter is with smart sprinkler systems. Smart sprinkler technology is already available on the market today. These existing smart watering systems measure temperature, humidity, and rainfall to water your lawn accordingly. These systems even know if the grass is on a slope, and depending on the size of that slope, can automatically determine if it should water for shorter periods of time but turn on more often, or run only once but for longer.
Similar smart technology could exist in regards to dishwashers, washing machines, and other appliances that use water in our homes. Anything that turns on and off could potentially be connected to a smart home system and help us gain efficiencies in how we use our resources, whether that’s water, energy, or by extension, our money.
These tools should be adapted to connect to smart home platforms as mentioned before. Even showers, toilets, and faucets could become smarter by simply measuring actual water usage and putting this information into the app. Connecting water usage into a platform will help homeowners gain insights into how much water they actually use and how automated features could help them improve their water usage.
4. Home security automation still has room for improvement
Home security is different from the other tech on this list because a lot of home security features are already part of common smart home platforms. Home security has paved the way for smart home technology, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement.
There’s an opportunity for homes to become safer with further technology. Connecting energy into a smart home platform could help home monitoring systems track and measure potential problems such as forgetting to turn off the oven when you leave. This type of home security technology could also measure potential electrical dangers like shorts, or energy leakage.
Another opportunity for homes to get smarter with home security is automating window locks. Currently, smart locks on doors are a common practice, and sensors to track when windows open and close are also common. Smart locking systems on windows could be another innovation that isn’t far off.
Other monitoring systems that will be introduced into home security automation include carbon monoxide monitors and radon testing, as well as any other potentially dangerous chemicals or gasses that could appear in the home. Having all of these safety features in a single smart home hub will help everyone improve their lives and the safety of their families.
5. Our cars will become part of our smart homes
As our cars get smarter, especially electric ones, they will become more and more connected to our daily lives and the tools we use every day. Many vehicles already have apps that you can use with your smartphone or iPad, that let you track and measure different performance metrics with your vehicle. Measuring is always the first step to optimizing, so it’s only a matter of time before our vehicles can start automating features and usage.
From your future smart home automation app, you’ll likely be able to start your car and adjust the heating and cooling settings so that it’s perfectly comfortable for you when you get in. All of this could even be automated to trigger at the same time every day before you leave for work. Your smart electric vehicles will charge at the most convenient times according to your energy usage and travel plans.
Then it won’t be long before you’ll be able to program a scenic route into your self-driving car so you can see the fall colors by the lake. Your self-driving car might even be connected to your calendar, so it knows when to go pick up the kids from school, and when to be back to your office to pick you up too. From your smart home app, you might even need to summon your car back to you, or back to your house.
The future of smart vehicles, home automation, and the possibilities of how they’ll integrate into our lives are endless. It’s impossible to know the future, but we do know that automation and smart home technology are going to get better and grow to incorporate more and more features. Managing our home life through a single app will be a reality in the not too distant future, and we’re excited to be a part of it.