Not all that long ago so-called smart homes were the stuff of science fiction.
But today a growing number of American households are enjoying the benefits of home automation, using smartphones to monitor and control lighting, door locks, heating and cooling, security cameras, and more from anywhere in the world.
As we move deeper into the 21st Century, smart home technology continues to evolve and bear new fruit every few months. Here's a look at a few of latest smart-home innovations.
Smart-home connectivity is slowly making its way into the kitchen, mostly through adapters that enable coffee makers and other small appliances to be controlled via a smartphone app.
A few high-end appliances are available as well. The latest of these is an Android-powered oven with a built-in screen for downloading and displaying recipes while you're cooking, and a smartphone app that lets you monitor cooking time and temperature without leaving your comfy chair in the family room.
Smart cookware is also moving into the kitchen in the form of a Wi-Fi enabled crockpot and a Bluetooth-enabled pressure cooker, both of which can be programmed and controlled via a smartphone app. In addition to convenience, the pressure-cooker app provides a range of cooking options that go beyond what's possible using the buttons on its control panel.
Smart Smoke Detector
Speaking of cooking, who hasn't scorched a batch of pancakes, causing the smoke detector to beep incessantly? One of the latest wrinkles in home safety technology is an intelligent smoke/carbon monoxide detection system that tells you in a human voice where smoke is or when CO levels are rising so you can act if it's an emergency situation - or silence the detector by waving your hand if an inexperienced or overzealous chef is the culprit.
The system goes a step further by sending a text message if the alarm goes off and alerting you when smoke levels are decreasing. You also get a text message when it's time to change system batteries.
Savvy Sleep System
Here's a smart-home feature most of us would never think of: A bedside smart sleep device that uses scientifically researched sounds and multicolor light to create a relaxing environment when you're falling asleep and provide stimulus when it's time to wake up.
The system also keeps tabs on noise, temperature and light conditions in the room and monitors sleep patterns (with the addition of a sensor pad that slips under the mattress) for later analysis. Data is collected and stored so it can be accessed via a smartphone app that helps you visualize your body movements, breathing cycles and heart rate so you can determine what causes you to wake up in the middle of the night.
It also reveals how long it took you to fall asleep, how many times you woke up during the night and how many times you got out of bed. You can even compare your sleep habits on different nights.
To learn more about smart home automation and the ever-growing list of possibilities, consult a CEDIA professional. Click here for a list of CEDIA-member home technology professionals in your area.