Have you ever been running out the front door and realized that you forgot to lock the door behind you? Have you ever been lying in bed, wishing you could change the thermostat without getting up? Now, with the use of smart home devices and IoT platforms, you can lock your front door remotely and turn up the heat without ever leaving your bed! Although these ideas once were viewed as science fiction, they are quickly expanding to homes across the globe.

These examples barely scratch the surface of what IoT is capable of, but smart home devices are among the most popular and widespread IoT products currently on the market. By taking a look at these smart home accessories, we can better understand the growing global shift toward connected devices. In the next 10 years, worldwide connected devices are expected to triple in number, meaning there is a huge area of opportunity for IoT savvy developers.

In this article, we are going to take a look at smart home devices and how they might change our world. Along the way, we will look at common use cases and what smart devices mean for a larger IoT community. Before we get into that, let’s take a look at a brief history of smart home devices.

smart home devices

History of smart home devices

Although home automation and smart home devices conjure a certain image in our minds today, ‘smart’ home appliances have been around for almost a century. Ever since the first electric toaster was invented, engineers have been trying to improve the efficiency of these devices, similar to how smart homes are now. It wasn’t until the early 00s that truly smart devices began to enter the market, leading to what we think of today.

While it may not seem important to look back at this progression, it shows us that this isn’t a fad. The ideas of IoT-like devices have been on drawing boards for decades, we have only just now been able to develop technology that is bringing them to their full potential. As IoT and smart homes continue to improve, it will be worth remembering how far we have come, and how far we still have yet to go.

Smart homes and IoT in 2018

Flash forward to 2018, where smart home devices like Alexa are becoming a booming industry. Consumers can now automate everything from their window blinds to their pet feeders, typically all right from their phone. While this may not be the exact vision that early smart home engineers envisioned, our interconnected world is here to stay and each year it becomes even more interwoven.

This is one reason why IoT security is so important when setting up smart home devices. It is also why even though increased automation is making us more efficient, we must take our time in developing these appliances and IoT devices. Unless there is a solid groundwork in place, these devices have the potential to cause major problems. Thankfully, most smart home devices can be programmed to work off of password protection and other security protocol.

Popular smart home devices

Now that you have seen where smart home devices have come from and the current state of the industry today, let’s take a look at a few popular devices on the market and what they could mean for the future. Keep in mind, there are plenty of other uses for IoT technology that we have looked at in previous posts, but for now let’s focus on smart homes in particular.

1. Controllers and hubs

The first group of smart home devices we will look at are those you are probably most familiar with, controllers and hubs. Whether it is Alexa, Echo, Google Home, or any other controller, these devices serve a purpose themselves, but are mainly used to connect other IoT devices throughout the house in one central location. Without the right hub, the UX design of most smart home devices would be a nightmare to work with.

Although these devices may seem inconsequential now, the future of IoT and smart home devices will be determined by the ability of these controllers to keep up with new technology. While these are the choice of most consumers today, they will have to stay up on their game in order to not be taken over by some, yet to be seen tech.

2. Home security

Our next popular area of smart home devices is home security. Remember the front door example earlier? Not only can you manually lock or unlock your door remotely, but you can install cameras, doorbells, and other security-geared devices that are accessible right from your phone. This is one of many areas where home automation is not only making us more efficient, but safer as well.

Again, the security built into these devices must be ready to take on hackers or anyone else with nefarious ideas and the right access. Although, unlike with recent hacks, they won’t just have access to your data, but your home! Keep this in consideration whether you are developing devices or buying them for your own home.

3. Heating and cooling

internet of things example

On a slightly more pleasant note, smart home devices can also be used to control the heating and cooling of your home. While Nest has dominated this space for years, more and more smart home suppliers are joining the conversation. As more devices come to market, more features will be added, and soon you might be able to control just about everything related to heating and cooling in your home from anywhere you please.

4. Lighting

Finally, the last of the smart home devices we will look at is lighting. This may seem boring, but not only is lighting something we all use on a daily basis, but when it is automated it can be energy saving and give off less emissions. Along with efficiency, smart home suppliers need to make sustainability and energy saving a larger part of their offering for the IoT market to continue to grow without causing environmental harm.

The future of smart homes and IoT

As we have seen in this article, smart home devices and IoT have come a long way from their humble beginnings with automated toasters and coffee machines. Now, we are starting to see their full potential as well as peak into what the future holds. For those of us involved in driving technological advancement, this should be both encouraging and give us pause to reflect on if we are establishing the right best practices.

Moving forward, IoT and wearables are sure to become as ubiquitous as mobile devices are to us today. The final thought we will leave you with is: how are you going to help push this technology forward and in the right direction? Unless we think about these things now, it will soon be too late to make the corrections we need to. Thankfully, we are on the right course.