We’ve embraced the Smart Phone, are we ready for the Smart Home?

By Michael Zachary

We live in a technological age where children are growing up learning how to read on iPhone tablets, and are acquiring cell phones at alarmingly early ages… It’s become the social norm to utilize these gadgets on a daily, if not hourly basis. They have completely infiltrated our lives, for better or worse. And now that we have become fully immersed in the “smart phone” technology, a myriad of products have begun to take hold in a market now known as the “smart home”.

Utah based company Vivint has taken this industry by storm, utilizing a business model that involves leasing their smart home gadgets to homeowners for a small monthly fee. This model has allowed the company to sustain a consistent cash flow, and has skyrocketed their brand to the top of the smart home market. They currently boast over 650 million in annual sales, and are valued in the billions. Vivint’s successful product line is one that functions as a cohesive unit, and can be conveniently operated anywhere, as long as you have your smart phone.

A scene depicting the use of the technology might go something like this: as the doorbell rings, a signal is sent to the homeowner’s smartphone. It arrives in the form of a push notification with a photo of the guest who is at the door. The technology then asks whether or not to let this person in, and by merely pressing a button on your smart phone, you can choose whether or not to automatically unlock the door for your said guest to let them in.

Another product they sell is a device that allows you to “tell” your home when you’re going to sleep, and immediately it will begin to lock your doors, reduce the thermostat by a few degrees, and gradually dim the lights so that you have enough time to mosey into the bedroom without tripping over things.

What is slightly confusing though is that all this technology doesn’t necessarily add up to a “smart home”.  Aside from the fact that much of the technology currently on the market is chalk full of design flaws, technical problems, and overall weird behavior, we must also understand that almost all of these devices are operated via your smart phone, as a sort of remote controlled  program. Perhaps what we have now isn’t a smart home at all, but rather a “connected home”. As Vivint’s chief strategy and innovation officer Matt Eyring believes, “The smart home doesn’t really exist yet… The connected home exists. The remote-control home exists. But we’ll see in the next six to eight months the first true smart home. It’ll be coming along in the next wave.”

It’s true, if you shell out a few pretty pennies online, you can get your home to feel pretty “smart”. But the reality is, that you are still controlling all of these devices by some form of remote control. When the remote control is eliminated, and these devices begin to operate using artificial intelligence, then we will truly have a “smart home”. Just like the wondrous and rather unbelievable technology displayed in the movie “Her”, a self-sustaining and intelligent humanoid robot seems to be where the big “smart home” players are putting their money. And while Vivint sees this robot-reality coming sooner rather than later, the fine-tuning of this type of technology could take years to render functional.

What do you think of this new smart home technology? We’d love to hear from you!