Smart home technology is on the rise: More companies are incorporating technologies like WiFi or Z-Wave into their products so that users can control its function with their smartphone or tablet. Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Homekit provide homeowners easy ways to control many items in the home from a single hub.
Companies like Weather Shield and Marvin are offering new automated sliding doors. Smart thermostats, like Nest, and interior smart lights that users control with their phones are increasing in popularity. Even appliance manufacturers are building smart capabilities into their latest products.
But as the technology is becoming more widespread, remodelers and builders are hearing from their customers that having smart home security is just as important as all the tricked-out gadgets.
A November 2016 report from Schlage and Wakefield Research found that 63% of millennials who live in multifamily settings would move out of an apartment due to a lack of security. The survey also found that 61% are likely to rent an apartment specifically because of electronic access features like keyless entry via a keypad or smartphone.
“Gradually over the last several years, we have seen a dramatic increase in the numbers of customers, and ultimately consumers, requesting home automation,” says Jessica Lindquist, global category director of NuTone Home Comfort and Convenience. “Consumers want something that is easy to use and automates their lives, saving them energy and giving them peace of mind.”
“We think it boils down to people becoming more connected to friends, family, and their property in ways they never thought of before,” says Mark Honeycutt, CEO of Maximus. Maximus released its smart security light in 2015. The light is equipped with a two-way speaker and a WiFi camera that allows homeowners to see who is at their front door. The light’s features are powered by Kuna, so homeowners download the Kuna app to talk to people at the door or to keep an eye on who’s stopping by.
Smart locks and front-door cameras not only provide homeowners the opportunity to secure their home sans keys, but to do so from anywhere in the world. NuTone’s smart garage door controller, for example, lets homeowners check if their garage door is open and to close it remotely.
For the front door, lock companies are releasing keyless front-door locks. Some simply allow users to punch in a code to unlock the door, while others incorporate the keypad along with an option to let users unlock the door with their smartphones.
“Our consumer testing confirmed Array users will unlock the door with their smartphones, but we also heard that having a traditional key as a backup was still important,” says Jim Hartung, Brinks’ executive vice president of Hampton Products.
Since these devices communicate over networks like WiFi and Z-Wave, they may sound like a security risk, but they’re safer than you might think. Companies encrypt the data shared between the products and the corresponding apps and smartphones. In February 2016, Sigma Designs, which owns Z-Wave technology, announced that several Z-Wave modules received certification from UL’s standards from home security.
Now, many companies are developing smart home products that are compatible with iOS, Android, Alexa, and Homekit—but not all devices work together so that users can control their entire home from one app. Lindquist predicts that the future of smart security, and the smart home at large, will center on creating a better user experience and “a more comfortable and convenient lifestyle.”
“Smart technology enables convenience, efficiency, safety, duplication reduction, and a number of other benefits as society becomes more dynamic and global,” Honeycutt says. “Since this technology is so easy to use and available in the market, we should probably ask, ‘Why aren’t people using smart technology more?’”