From automation and voice control to real-time monitoring, today’s home technology has made incredible strides over the past decade, and even the last couple of years. “I believe [smart technology] is becoming the norm in newer homes these days,” says Kevin Clancy, system designer for Lelch Audio Video in St. Louis Park. “It doesn’t take away from the design of the space, and it adds a lot of convenience.” Ready to improve your home’s IQ? Read on for his roundup of what’s trending in residential tech.
Remote home monitoring.
Whether you’re on vacation or at work, remote home monitoring allows you to check in on your home anywhere, anytime. Using an app on your phone, you can set and disarm your security system, be alerted to any water leaks, program the thermostat, and more for complete peace of mind while you’re away.
It’s time to ditch the switch in favor of a sleeker keypad that controls different lighting themes. “So homeowners can walk into a room, hit one button according to the activity they want to do”—watching a movie or cooking, for example—“and all the lights are set exactly how they want them,” says Clancy. Even more intuitive is Ketra lighting, which mimics your natural circadian rhythm to improve your mood and increase your energy.
You already use Alexa to answer questions about the weather and football scores, and you may know the savvy virtual assistant can be integrated into home systems to follow instructions like, “Alexa, put ESPN on the TV”—but now, you can take it a step further with theme-based commands. “If I’m sitting down watching a movie, I can say, ‘Alexa, I need a drink.’ She will pause the movie and slowly raise up the lights,” explains Clancy. “And then when you’re back, you can say, ‘Alexa, I’m back,’ and she’ll dim the lights and press play on the movie again.”
These smart doorbells work by detecting motion at your front door and sending you a notification in real time, so you can see, hear, and talk to your visitors. “These have become extremely popular, just because of Amazon getting big and package stacks. Or you can use it to keep an eye on the kids in the front yard,” says Clancy.
Not only is lowering or raising your shades at the push of a button convenient, it’s also environmentally friendly with technology that allows you to program your shades to come down at a particular time of day according to the position of the sun. “In the summer, if you get a lot of sun on the south side of your house midday, we can have those shades automated to drop, block the sun, and therefore lower your cooling costs,” says Clancy.
Forget about flatscreens that detract from your décor. Samsung recently introduced the Frame TV. When it’s not being used to watch your favorite shows, the screen can be set to Art Mode and transform into a masterpiece, whether it’s a family portrait or a Van Gogh.
Taylor Hugo (taylorhugo.com) is a freelance writer and editor who has experience creating content for regional and national magazines, small businesses and Fortune 500 companies, and everything in between. After spending most of her life in Minnesota, she recently relocated to Colorado, where you’ll find her hiking the Rocky Mountains and decorating her first home that she shares with her husband and dog.