NEW YORK (MainStreet) — People love technology that makes life more efficient, and their house (no matter its grandiosity) is their castle. No wonder home automation is trending and becoming one of the hottest industries out there. Recently, the most expensive home in U.K. history sold for a staggering amount - and it was in some degree due to the comprehensive home automation throughout it.
Communication theorist Marshall McLuhan had it right when he said, "As technology advances, it reverses the characteristics of every situation again and again. The age of automation is going to be the age of 'do it yourself.'" That's why companies like Nest, a Google acquisition that allows homeowners to use a programmable thermostat among other utilities, are all the rage.
Whether you're a home automation startup, a real estate investor, builder, construction manager or a mortgage borrower, there are quite a few reasons to look at home automation as a viable upgrade. Give the people what they want, and remember that people want what's cutting edge.
"I think we will end up seeing this incredible layering of things: standard touch for some things, haptics for others, voice for yet another thing," says Genevieve Bell, a researcher with Intel. "The best analogy I can think of is cars. When you sit in a car, look at all the different ways you have to engage with the machine. The wheel, for steering. Foot pedals, for gear changes, acceleration and braking." Tech is evolving, and home automation is doing something similar to the rest of automated technology, only for your home. Here are a few of the reasons we love home automation and why it's here to stay:
1. Everyone wants a Jetson home
Truly innovative home technology just gives residents that visceral "cool" feeling. Who doesn't want to feel like he's living in a sci-fi movie (sans aggressive aliens of course)?
"Products like Nest have given consumers a look at what it's like to micromanage your indoor temperature and energy use," says Thomson Bellingrath of Remicant3D, a San Francisco-based 3D printing news site. "I'm always trying to stay on top of bleeding-edge technology, and lately I've read a lot about 'the internet of things,' which would let all your appliances chat with each other. So it looks really interesting right now."
There's no denying that home automation is impressive, it's fun to play with and it feeds that little kid inside all of us who wanted to be a sci-fi hero. It plays to your ego and sense of wonder.
2. It's utilitarian (sometimes)
A lot of what home automation offers goes beyond the "cool" factor and deals with practical problems and everyday inconveniences. If you want to start a fire in your fireplace when you're just two blocks away from taking a hot date home, or you want to make sure your plants are watered while on vacation, home automation can do that for you. If something is both cool and useful, that makes it a double whammy of a win.
3. It's surprisingly affordable
Like many things in life, you can spend as much or as little as you like on home automation. There are many options for affordable and even flat-out cheap home automation upgrades without breaking the bank, so it can work with many budgets. You can have what looks like James Bond-esque features without spending too much. Everyone wants to feel indulgent from time to time, so when tech can make that possible it's a clear winner.
The Nest Learning Thermostat, for example, will run a customer in the $200 range; of course, the savings on the electric bill can certainly dig into that upfront cost.
"Not only is the technology affordable, but it can help you save on energy costs" says Natalie Cooper, editor of BankingSense. "That extra savings could help pay for the system in just a couple of years."
4. It makes your life easier
It's simply easier to control the temperature in each room or the music piped through the house from a tablet rather than going room to room. Time is an invaluable commodity--you're not sure how much you have, and you can't ever get it back. No amount of money can buy you more time. Thus, technology that makes your life easier and saves you time is priceless.
Do you see home automation in your future? It's going to show up increasingly more often in our daily lives whether we like it or not. However, if you get ahead of the trend and make upgrades yourself, you could reap some monetary benefits if you sell or rent out your place. Check out the offerings and find the right solutions for your home.
--Written by John Boitnott for MainStreet