Today’s modern smart home is one where devices are connected together so they can work harmoniously to offer convenience, comfort, and security to those living in and visiting the home. Using voice commands, your smart devices turn on or off or adjust settings to meet the personalized needs of the home’s residents and guests—controlled through voice commands, gestures, tablets, and smartphones. 

What Is Smart Home Technology?

Smart home technology is able to centrally control lighting, heating, cooling, kitchen appliances, and other electronic devices. Think of the term “smart home” as being analogous to “home automation” or “the connected home.” 

By speaking normally, consumers can interact with their smart devices from any room in the house. By tapping a few commands on a mobile phone or computer, they can extend that interaction to anywhere in the world, accessing and managing their smart home’s operations remotely. 

Smart home technology encompasses everything needed to make this level of control possible. In the smart home devices themselves, the technology includes sensors to, for instance, register temperature or detect movement. Smart devices need communications chips that allow them to send data to an Internet of Things (IoT) cloud for processing or analysis. Smart home technology also includes everything consumers need to use to control the devices, whether it’s through voice or a mobile app. 

Setting up a smart home can be as simple as buying a connected speaker. More complex uses might require creating a hub that links together several different products, such as speakers, cameras, heaters, air conditioners, security systems, lighting fixtures, kitchen appliances, and more.  

Smart Speakers and Other Popular Smart Home Devices 

Over 50% of U.S. homes already contain at least one smart home device. According to a survey report released this year by Strategy Analytics, the most popular smart home devices are smart speakers such as Amazon Alexa and Echo; smart thermostats, such as the Nest Thermostat; and interactive security systems. 

Video doorbells, such as the Ring Video Doorbell, are now installed in 36% of U.S. households, Strategy Analytics learned in its survey report. The research firm said that 2019 was the “first big year” for video doorbell devices. 

“Our research shows that smart home products and services have improved people’s lives by removing some of the familiar frustrations associated with household technologies,” said Jack Narcotta, a Strategy Analytics senior analyst. 

Other common smart home devices being installed today include connected light bulbs, security cameras, door locks, smart plugs, hot water heaters, kitchen appliances, and cooking tools.  

Categories of Smart Home Devices

Smart home devices are designed to all work together, but they can be divided into categories based on their function or the rooms in the house where they operate.

For example:

  • Smart lighting solutions include light switches, light bulbs, and a full assortment of light-generating devices that can be set to turn the illumination off and on or adapt to the time of day or to set the mood for different activities (e.g., a family dinner, watching TV, entertaining guests, reading, or working on the computer).
  • With smart heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) products, residents can control the temperature of the house remotely.
  • Smart security solutions can include door and window locks, cameras, video doorbells, and baby monitors.
  • Smart appliances large and small located throughout the home can include water filters and dispensers, refrigerators, ovens, washers and dryers, and coffee makers.
  • When it comes time for in-home entertainment, consumers can install smart TVs, sound systems, and streaming devices.
  • Additional comfort and convenience can be delivered through smart versions of everything from toothbrushes and makeup mirrors to beds and window treatments.

Smart devices in the home can be managed via voice control through smart speakers; via apps running on a mobile phone or tablet, or automated to respond independently based on time, environmental conditions (e.g., window blinds or outdoor lighting that adjust to presence or absence of sunlight), or activity levels in particular rooms.

What are the Benefits of a Smart Home?

The key benefits of the smart home include convenience, ease of use, comfort, security, cost savings, and time savings. The biggest promise of smart home devices is that they will transform consumers’ lives. Strategy Analytics’ survey respondents said they especially look for smart home products that are easy to use and convenient, and that help them feel more secure. Potential time and cost savings from smart home devices arise through the greater efficiency gained through automation of features as well as replenishment of consumables such as coffee filters, water treatment supplies, and even refrigerator or pantry items.

Connecting Smart Home Devices

The key to the growth of the smart home will be how well various devices communicate with each other and work together. Analyst Narcott said, "If smart lighting can’t easily connect to door or motion sensors, or security cameras can’t communicate with smart locks, smart home adoption will slow, if not come to a screeching halt." 

Consumers assume that connected devices in their smart homes will work together easily and automatically, regardless of the manufacturer, and without needing to have specialized technical skills to make them work. Consumers also expect to use the same method to access and control all of their smart home devices, rather than having to juggle separate user interfaces for each of their connected devices.

How can Manufacturers Build Better Smart Home Devices?

Manufacturers must work hard to meet consumers’ increasingly sophisticated expectations for what a modern smart home can do. 

Smart home products that consumers favor will be those that deliver on the promise of interoperability, whether they are controlled by consumers or operate autonomously. In this emerging market, manufacturers will need to embrace and incorporate interoperability. 

The technologies that enable smart home interoperability are complex and diverse, but manufacturers can speed time to market by building their smart devices on a smart home platform from a company with extensive smart home and IoT architecture expertise.

What Makes Smart Home Devices Compelling?

Is the dream house within reach? 

The future is a smart home that knows what you want to eat, when you want to sleep, how you want your environment to feel, and how you want to be entertained. It keeps you secure and comfortable, and it frees you from mundane tasks so you can pursue more rewarding activities. 

Now that interactive speakers, connected doorbells, self-replenishing coffee makers, and other smart home devices are commonplace, the smart home future is closer than ever. 

If you are a manufacturer interested in delivering successful smart home devices to this important emerging market, contact Ayla Networks to schedule a free consultation and to learn more about using Ayla’s IoT platform services to design interoperable, high-performing smart home products that consumers will love.