OK—so, we aren’t quite living like the Jetsons yet, but smart home tech has come a long way in recent years.
The ability to control heat, lighting, security cameras and more from mobile devices is readily available to the general public.
In fact, it’s kind of becoming mainstream.
Nearly half (45%) of Americans either owned smart home technology or planned to invest in it at the start of 2016, according to a Coldwell Banker survey. When asked about what needs to be in a home for it to be considered "smart," respondents cited security (63%), temperature (63%), lighting (58%) and safety (56%).
Still, many are not jumping on the smart home tech train – but it’s not for lack of interest. The 2016 Houzz Smart Trends Home Study found that the biggest barriers to smart home tech adoption are lack of education about available options and trouble finding the right products.
So, to give you a head start, we’ve rounded up some of the top products and technologies that hit the market in 2016. If creating a smarter home is one of your resolutions for the new year, take a look:
Let’s start with home security, as that seems to be the top tech priority for homeowners.
Despite reports of hacking associated with some systems, security automation continues to be influential among folks who want to protect their homes from intruders.
According to PCMag, some of the best home tech security options released in 2016 include the August Smart Lock and the Vivint Sky alarm system. The August Smart Lock keeps tabs on who enters and leaves your home, and responds to voice controls. Vivint Sky requires a monthly subscription, but it features a video doorbell and monitors your door locks.
Looking to cut down your electricity bill by automating your home temperature controls? The time has come!
You’ve probably seen ads for the Nest Learning Thermostat, and if you’re interested in automated temperature controls, you might actually want to look into this one. It includes activity sensors, which shut down heating or cooling after an hour or two of inactivity. And get this: After the first week of use, Nest learns your temperature habits and it creates a schedule based on your usage.
Across the board, experts say that smart lighting isn’t 100% there yet. So, while no system is absolutely perfect, Philips Hue continuously receives high marks.
I don’t know if it gets more futuristic than being able to sync your smart lighting to your music and movies. You can also use Philips Hue to set the lighting to help you feel more energized (take that, Seasonal Affective Disorder) and to better concentrate.
“Alexa, set the timer for 15 minutes.”
“Okay, Google. What’s today’s weather? ”
So, you already know these digital assistants are great for playing music and telling you the weather, but they’re also great for integrating smart tech into your home.
And it’s official: Amazon Echo finally has some competition from another major player. Last month, Google released Google Home, its version of a home digital assistant, to compete with Echo aka Alexa. With these two devices, you can control lighting and room temperature (among other things) simply by using voice commands.
If Siri is your ride-or-die gal, don’t fret. The Apple Home app is also an option. It integrates with thermostats, smart locks, lighting systems, carbon monoxide alarms and more – but they have to be Apple HomeKit compatible. To change the controls, just grab your Apple device and summon Siri.
We had to include this one for fun. There is nothing like getting home from the grocery store only to realize that you’re out of milk for your toddler … and now, there’s a fridge for that.
Yes, at approximately $6,000, they’re expensive. However, if you’re constantly forgetting items on your shopping list, it might be worth the investment.
The Samsung Family Hub has received tons of buzz this year. With three cameras that snap photos 10 seconds after you close the door, you can always see the inside of your fridge from your smartphone.
Alright, so while it doesn’t necessarily count as “smart home technology,” a roof that generates electricity is still pretty cool. Earlier this year, Elon Musk announced that Tesla’s solar roof will be released in the summer of 2017. And get this? It will cost less than a conventional roof. We’ll definitely be on the lookout for this one.