Rise of the Smart Home
For Raffi Kajberouni, the keys to his Santa Clarita, Calif.,
home have become relics.
If he locks himself out, no problem. If a friend arrives at his
two-story house before him, there’s no waiting outside for
Kajberouni to arrive. Kajberouni taps his smartphone and his front
He can also turn down the thermostat or view his home
security cameras from anywhere in the world.
“A lot of my friends are jealous,” the 31-year-old said. “It’s like
the home fromBack to the Future, but in real life.”
From complete smart home systems to individual Internetconnected products such as high-tech appliances and power
strips, the smart home is no longer a futuristic gimmick.
The technology behind smart gadgets — items that can be
controlled remotely or perform tasks on their own — has been
around for decades, but until recently the devices were
rudimentary and, above all, expensive.
“It had always been an upscale-type business: Unless you
were in the top 5 percent of income levels, you didn’t have access
to this type of connectivity,” said Randy Light, merchant of home
automation for Home Depot.
Wireless Internet and the widespread proliferation of
smartphones are making smart home technologies more
sophisticated — and affordable.
“This used to be something out of The Jetsons or limited to
the super-rich,” said Jonathan Dorsheimer, an analyst at
Canaccord Genuity. But as smart home technology has improved
and costs have come down, “it’s becoming more mainstream.”
Analysts estimate that only a small single-digit percentage of
homeowners have smart homes.
But the home automation systems and services market is
expected to see enormous growth in the coming years and is
forecast to reach $14.7 billion in revenue globally by 2017, up from
$3.6 billion last year, according to NextMarket Insights.
These days, a wide swath of companies are clamoring to sell
smart systems, including home security firms, telecommunications
giants such as AT&T and Verizon, cable providers and utilities.
That’s expected to help “propel the market from its fairly
modest size today to one which serves more than 35 million
households by 2017,” NextMarket said in its recent report.
The housing recovery could also fuel growth if owners choose
to pull out their rising equity to give their homes high-tech
And as Americans purchase more newly built homes, they
may increasingly find those digs fully integrated with their phones.
Some of the nation’s largest home builders now market techequipped houses’ advantages over older homes.
Although new homes are usually more expensive, builders
have emphasized the long-term cost savings owners can reap
through solar panels and the ability to monitor and change their
energy usage with smart devices.