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        Simplify and Connect: Smart Home Technology for Modern Living
        Smart home technology can offer modern homeowners many attractive benefits when designing a new home.
        August 28

        Smart home technology has grown from a trendy buzzword to a now multi-billion-dollar industry. The concept started gaining popularity in the early 2000s; now, thousands of smart home automation products help homeowners automate, customize, and simplify common household technology features. The smart products industry is expected to grow at the rate of 10.22% per year in the United States alone, reaching up to $57.21 billion in revenue by 2027, according to a 2022 study by Statista Market Insights.

        Many entry-level products in this space are available to homeowners interested in creating a more connected experience at home. Products like smart thermostats, smart security cameras, smart appliances, voice assistants, and smart light bulbs make it easy for anyone to dip their toe into the world of connected devices.

        However, those types of consumer products only scratch the surface of what’s possible in a truly smart home.

        In this post, we’ll explore the following:

        Exploring the Smart Home

        What it Takes to Make a Smart Home

        A true smart home is more than simply connecting a handful of devices to the internet for control – it is an automated ecosystem of devices customized to enhance the homeowner’s lifestyle.

        While popular smart consumer products like Philips® Hue smart LED light bulbs or Nest® thermostats are affordable and effective at performing their task, these products have limitations, especially without a deeper knowledge of technical programming and networking. This is certainly true when attempting to integrate devices from different brands.

        For example, one brand may have a great light bulb product and an intuitive user interface; however, that same brand may not have its own thermostat product. So, if you want these two separate smart products, you’ll need two individual user interfaces to control each. You can see how this can quickly snowball into a far too complicated system as you add more devices to your home.

        In a truly smart home, devices can work both independently and interdependent of one another to automate activities, create scenes, measure the environment, and notify residents of events with or without user interaction. This type of system sophistication can be customized to the user’s specific preferences and has the flexibility to reconfigure settings based on the users' needs in different scenarios.

        It takes more than a trip to the local big box store and an internet connection to accomplish this caliber of high-end home automation. A real smart home system requires a professional systems integrator to install and configure the system based on the user’s preferences.

        A professional integrator can help guide you toward the right technologies to fit your needs and preferences. You’ll want to have an in-depth conversation with them to give them insights into questions like:

        • Is this a new build or an upgrade on an existing home?
        • What are the pain points that you want to solve in your house?
        • What is your project budget?
        • What is your desired timeline?
        • What kind of technology are you currently comfortable with using?

        Once the initial conversations are out of the way, your integrator can start to piece together the best devices to help you achieve your goals. Smart devices, also known as Internet of Things (IoT) devices, could include any of the following:

        Smart Thermostats

        Smart thermostats are a great option for homeowners interested in energy efficiency. These products typically can monitor a home's temperature and automatically adjust settings to save energy and money while meeting the homeowner’s comfort levels.

        Many smart thermostats work with occupancy sensors to detect when rooms are empty and adjust accordingly. With the addition of machine learning, some thermostats can begin to understand occupant routines and predict the needs of homeowners.

        Another added perk is the ability for homeowners to log into their HVAC system remotely and adjust settings when away from home.

        Smart Security Systems

        Smart security systems use various devices, such as cameras, motion detectors, alarm systems, and smart home access locks. These devices work together to deliver real-time information directly to the homeowner through their smart phones and other devices.

        Smart Lighting

        Smart lighting systems enhance control, convenience, and energy efficiency through networkable LED lights.

        These lighting control systems allow homeowners to remotely control and schedule lighting routines in the home, such as on/off, brightness levels, and even coloring.

        These lighting systems can be accessed through other devices such as smartphones or can integrate with voice control technology so you can literally tell your lights what to do without pushing buttons or flipping a switch.

        The LED bulbs provide top-of-the-line energy efficiency and can help homeowners dial back their energy usage when paired with occupancy sensors. Certain sensors can even detect natural sunlight and mimic the healthy biological effects of circadian rhythms.

        From complete lighting automation to vibrant party colors, smart lights give homeowners the power of convenience and customization at the tip of their fingers.

        Smart Shades

        Smart shades are motorized and automated window coverings that can integrate into a smart house system for convenient privacy, light control, security, and energy efficiency.

        Whether you automate shades to let sunlight in first thing in the morning or use your smartphone to block unwanted rays for movie night, this shading solution adds extra convenience and customization to any smart home system.

        Low-Voltage Audio Systems

        With a low-voltage audio system, homeowners can run dozens of speakers throughout their house and create different listening zones by room, floor, indoor, outdoor, and more. These speakers can be extremely discreet and, in some cases, can even be installed behind drywall.

        By integrating a low-voltage system into a smart home, users can control the audio as part of the user's home routines, such as synchronizing playback with lighting scenes or scheduling audio events.

        Another feature of having a distributed audio system is the ability to add whole-home paging. That means, residents can make announcements over the audio system that are played throughout the entire home or by individually selected rooms and zones. It’s great for larger luxury homes with a lot of square footage to be able to communicate information with family members or guests no matter where they are located in the house.

        Smart TVs and Media

        Smart TVs are already commonplace in many homes. However, integrating these devices into a full smart home system gives users more control and flexibility over the media. You can control normal TV functions such as on/off, volume, channel, and input using a variety of remote and wall-mounted controllers.

        Additionally, you can schedule media events to happen automatically, like having the morning news automatically turn on at 8 a.m. or ensuring screen time is disabled after 7 p.m.

        And with a smart home system, it is easy to control your favorite streaming and playback devices from any room you want, so you’re not limited to media on a per-room basis.

        The variety of smart products is constantly growing. Working with a professional integrator is important to ensure all products are compatible.

        Brands like Crestron specialize in creating full solutions for smart home systems, including all the above products mentioned and more. Working with products from a single brand ensures compatibility and reduces technical difficulties that might arise in the future with devices that are cobbled together.

        How Homeowners Benefit
        from Smart Home Technology

        While the best smart home systems may make a statement of luxury, they are much more than an intelligent status symbol. Homeowners will quickly understand the many benefits provided by home automation technology.

        Smart Home Systems Save You Time

        By automating your devices, you can eliminate many everyday tasks like turning lights on/off, adjusting thermostats, and controlling appliances. You can even do any of these things remotely from one centralized control hub to save you time working between several different interfaces.

        Imagine the time you’ll save when your lights automatically come on at perfect brightness, your coffee maker has already brewed your morning cup, and as the temperature picks up throughout the day, the AC automatically adjusts to keep you comfortable.

        Save Money with Smart Devices

        Most smart devices are built with the highest energy efficiency standards. For example, switching from standard incandescent bulbs to smart LED bulbs will save up to 90% more energy and last over 25 times longer. Now, imagine the energy savings by adding occupancy sensors that automatically turn lights off whenever a room is unoccupied and a thermostat that automatically adjusts settings to save energy. Your utility bills will quickly begin to drop.

        Additionally, smart appliances are great at optimizing energy usage and monitoring maintenance issues. These features can notify homeowners as potential issues arise and allow you to address maintenance tasks promptly to avoid more expensive repairs and replacement parts later.

        Smart Homes are More Energy Efficient

        We already mentioned how energy-efficient smart devices help reduce utility costs. The other benefit is a bit more noble. According to a study by Research Gate, adopting energy-efficient smart home technology, homeowners have the potential to reduce their CO2 emissions by up to 13%. With a reported one-third of CO2 emissions coming from household energy consumption, smart homes offer an extremely viable way for homeowners to do their part to help reduce the impact on our environment.

        A Smart Home Instills a Greater Sense of Security

        You can rest easier knowing that your home works around the clock to help keep you and your family safe. By using cameras, motion sensors, door and window sensors, audio alerts, and push notifications, you can stay informed about certain activities around your house and potentially deter any wrongdoers before they can do wrong.

        Live More Comfortably in a Smart Home

        Comfort goes beyond physical comforts like a hard or soft bed. Aesthetics and intuitiveness play an important role in keeping you and your family comfortable. And something like aesthetics can be tricky to dial in. What feels aesthetically comfortable in the morning may not be so comfortable in the afternoon or night hours. What feels aesthetically comfortable in the winter months might feel different in the summer months.

        Fortunately, smart home systems can easily adjust to your liking, either through automated routines or on-the-fly user controls. Different aesthetic settings are typically referred to as “scenes.” A scene can include specific lighting levels/colors, temperatures, sounds, etc.

        However, user controls need to be comfortable as well. Thankfully, these technologies can be controlled from various devices, from traditional wall switches to phone apps.

        Choosing The Right Smart Home Technology

        Smart devices are trendy. Manufacturers are sprinting into this market, hoping to become the next must-have device. When choosing the right devices for your home, things can quickly become confusing and overwhelming. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

        Compatibility

        When approaching a smart home integration project, choosing individual devices and brands that are compatible with one another is important.

        When different brands use disparate software and technology to carry out certain tasks, many times, that software can’t speak with one another without purchasing additional gear to help bridge the gap. This can become more expensive and adds another layer of complexity to your system.

        You’ll want to work with your system integrator to determine your needs and find brands and devices that are compatible with one another to get the job done.

        Better yet, opt for one single brand that makes all of your smart home devices. This isn’t too common yet, but there are some brands, like Crestron, that provide complete smart home systems and strive to flawlessly integrate with other popular brands. By choosing a single brand, you can ensure that all the components will work together more seamlessly.

        Cost

        The off-the-shelf consumer products might tempt you in with lower prices. But make no mistake; these products cannot stand up to the sophistication, customization, and dependability of professional smart home devices. So, rather than saving a bit of money upfront and dealing with frustrating technical problems or device failures down the road, a better route is to invest in a good system through a professional installer at the beginning. This is the best way to ensure your system does exactly what you want when you want it to.

        And as an added perk, installers typically offer service contracts so that they can maintain your system for you to avoid any issues from developing. It’s the best way to keep your system running at peak performance all the time.

        Ease of Use

        If possible, spend some time demoing smart home equipment before you purchase it. You’ll quickly begin to find that some brands are easier to use than others.

        The best smart devices can usually accomplish any task within a few simple clicks and offer other helpful features like different colored indicator lights to help you keep track of device settings or customizable device dashboards so you can organize your favorite settings and find them easily.

        Lifestyle

        At the end of the day, it all comes down to your specific lifestyle. What do you like to do every day? What is your routine? How could technology supplement or enhance your life? These are the types of things to think about and discuss with a professional system integrator to help you choose the right equipment for your lifestyle.

        Security Risks for Smart Homes:
        Credible or Exaggerated?

        Security concerns surrounding smart technologies are very prevalent in today’s culture. Hollywood even went as far as to create a horror film in 2022 that positions a smart home as the main antagonist. While the movie only scored a 34% from the audience on Rotten Tomatoes, it does underscore the modern-day apprehension and the public perception of smart home systems.

        Luckily, this isn’t a cheesy scary movie, and smart tech manufacturers like Crestron take safety and security very seriously. And while we go above and beyond to ensure that our technology is secure, it is still important to understand the best ways to protect your privacy and data while using these devices.

        Ensure Your Smart Devices Are Secure

        There are several practical and easy steps you can take to help keep your smart home devices more secure:

        • Research and purchase devices from well-known brands with a good reputation. Read through the device privacy settings to ensure you’re not sharing any data you’re uncomfortable with.
        • Keep your devices up to date with the latest firmware. Consider an integrator service contract and let the professionals handle this for you.
        • Set strong passwords. Make sure you change the default passwords on your devices.
        • Consider setting your smart home system on a separate network from your family’s Wi-Fi® network.
        • Enable two-factor authentication on all of your devices for an extra layer of security.

        By following these steps and working with a professional system integrator, you can feel much better about your data security and privacy when implementing a smart home system.

        1933 World’s Fair
        2023 Net Zero Iconic House

        The Future of Smart Home Technology

        One of the most popular exhibits at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1933 was called “The House of Tomorrow.” It featured automated appliances, central heating and cooling, electric curtains, remote-controlled lighting, and more. At the time, it was an inspiration for the everyday homemaker that showed how domestic life could be transformed for the better.

        Now, many of those same features from nearly 100 years ago are readily available to implement in our homes.

        So, “The House of Tomorrow” from the Chicago World’s Fair wasn’t off base at all; in fact, that exhibit alone probably helped capture the imagination of engineers around the world to put us where we are today with smart home technology.

        So, where do we go from here? Well, there are a few trends in smart device tech that might lend some insights into the new house of tomorrow...

        Sustainability and Energy Efficiency

        This is certainly a hot topic for the tech industry these days. With many countries committing to both short and long-term sustainability goals, the need for more energy-efficient technologies is on the rise.

        The use of solar power and rechargeable batteries is catching on for homeowners. This is going to affect the way we design and manufacture new technologies for the future smart home.

        Smart technologies also offer another great benefit in energy efficiency – data tracking.

        Homeowners have more data at their fingertips to be aware of their impact on the environment and to help conserve energy. And with the addition of automated systems, we’re beginning to see many ways to reduce overall energy consumption from modern households.

        Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning

        Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been a major buzzword for quite a few years. Now, with the onset of technologies like ChatGPT, many entrepreneurs and businesses are inventing new ways to incorporate AI into their technologies.

        We’re already seeing this happen in some of the enterprise-level technologies. It’s only a matter of time before AI and machine learning become commonplace in smart home devices.

        Health and Wellness Technology

        Increased awareness of topics such as circadian rhythm, biophilia, and wellness are putting a focus on personal health as impacted by our surroundings.

        Your sleep. Your energy. Your mood. Your emotional and physical health. A smart home can improve and support these and other aspects of wellness.

        This is something that we’ve recognized at Crestron and have begun implementing into our smart home technologies with things like circadian lighting that uses sensors outside to read the environmental lighting atmosphere and mimic it inside your home.

        These types of at-home health and wellness features are going to continue to develop and become essential to the smart home experience.

        So, you can see, our homes are already using technology to improve the technical functions of all components in the house. The natural next step is for our homes to use technology to help improve our own physical well-being and the well-being of the world around us.

        Frequently Asked Questions for Smart Homes

        What does a smart home do?

        Smart homes bring together a variety of smart devices that work independently and interdependently to control and automate different functions within a home. In a smart home, residents can easily control elements such as lighting, central heating and air, audio, TVs, window shades, appliances, home security systems, and more. Homeowners often have multiple control solutions for their home, such as personal devices like smart phones and more traditional methods such as wall controllers.

        How much does a smart home cost?

        The cost of a smart home system varies depending on many factors, including the size of the home, the number of smart devices used, the brand of the smart devices used, the level of complexity of the smart home system, costs of labor, and any ongoing service contract fees.

        What are examples of smart homes?

        Many famous celebrities such as Bill Gates, Oprah, and Mark Zuckerberg are noted for living in luxurious smart homes.

        At Crestron, we’re proud to provide our customers with the technology to make their smart homes a reality too. You can explore many of those smart home projects here: https://www.crestron.com/News/Case-Studies

        What's considered a smart home?

        A smart home consists of a network of interconnected devices that work together over the internet to control and automate household functions such as lighting, central heating and air, audio, TVs, window shades, appliances, home security systems, and more. These can also be described as smart houses, connected homes, home control systems, integrated homes, automated home systems, or even residential AV control systems.

        What do I need to make a smart home?

        A true, professionally installed smart home generally begins with new construction homes. This makes it easier for builders and system integrators to work together to ensure the design of the house and the requirements of the smart home system are aligned.

        It is possible to retrofit an already existing home with a smart home system. This can require extensive construction work and additional expenses.

        It is important to consult with a professional system integrator to decide the best way to make your home a smart home.

        Are smart homes a good idea?

        Smart homes can use technology to control and automate everyday tasks. This can save residents time and money. It is important to do the proper research before committing to a smart home system and to work with a professional systems integrator to provide quotes for smart devices, installation, and other services to ensure the costs of installing and maintaining a smart home fit within your personal budget.

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