The idea of the smart home has been a dream for nearly a century.
It appeared in the public imagination as early as 1922 in the Buster Keaton film “Electric House.” Since then, we’ve imagined everything from the automated kitchens of “The Jetsons” to the voice-activated home S.A.R.A.H. (Self-Actuated Residential Automated Habitat), a smart home with abandonment issues from the 2006 television series “Eureka.”
Much like self-driving cars, the smart house has been a technology long imagined but just out of reach, until now. The future has arrived and families are increasingly choosing to live in smart homes.
The future is now
Tamera Mowry-Housley, the actress and host of the daytime talk show “The Real,” says living in a fully connected smart house has changed her family’s life for the better, even if the technology at first seemed overwhelming.
“It can be intimidating,” she said, “but once you realize how easy it makes your life — especially if you are a family — you’ll take the time to learn it. And once you learn it, you’re so happy you did.”
Mowry-Housley’s home is connected by Control4, a smart home operating system that connects nearly everything in the home, including entertainment systems, temperature controls, and door locks, all through a central device.
“The thing about Control 4 and having a smart house is that you have just one remote,” Mowry-Housley said. “And it’s so much easier. My kid can do it.”
Control4 integrates smart lighting, security, and home theater systems with centralized control from your smartphone or iPad. For parents like Mowry-Housley, it means being able to keep an eye on your kids while you’re out of the house, or remotely checking whether you locked the doors.
“Back in the day, you’d have to drive all the way back,” Mowry-Housley said, “whereas now, if you forget to lock the door or you need someone to open the door, it’s just a press of a button.”
Protecting what you love
Security is one of the main draws of the smart house. With the option to connect security cameras to your mobile device, it’s possible to keep an eye on your home when you’re away, or, as Mowry-Housley said, to watch over children when they’re alone at home.
“We can see and even speak to the kids to see how they’re doing,” she said. “It gives you that sense of ease.”
The benefits of a smart home aren’t only apparent when you’re in the home, Mowry-Housley said.
“If we are traveling from a vacation in the wintertime and we want to get home, we can actually set our temperature ahead of time so we’re not coming into the house with it freezing,” she said. “We can already set it at the temperature we like.”
Upgrades for any budget
Connecting your entire home can be expensive, but Mowry-Housley suggested starting small.
“Start by just combining all your televisions, or just do your speakers first,” she said. “Do one thing at a time.”
The market currently has a wide range of options, from voice-activated connective devices, like Amazon’s Alexa, to the full connective packages that companies like Connect4 provide.
Now that smart homes have arrived, Mowry-Housley is already imagining what new technologies are coming to make family life easier.
“I think it would be really cool to see cars drive themselves,” she said. “We already have the technology with apps to help us drive more efficiently. I think it would be cool if we all could just sit back and chill in a car.”