Electronic and digital technologies are making their presence felt in our homes. We’ve come a long way since the only electrical appliance was a lightbulb. Now we have all sorts of amazing technologies designed to make our lives more enjoyable and convenient. Here, we dedicate a lot of our time to discussing how to make homes beautiful and well composed. But we spend a lot less time thinking about how our homes function and whether they’re adding value to our lives.

Last year, the Telegraph reported on how people were spending millions turning their houses into hi-tech homes. The market for hi-tech homes in Britain grew to nearly £910 million in 2015. And it’s all thanks to smart technology becoming something embedded in the very fabric of home design. The Custom Electronics Association report brought to life some of the details.  It found that the average Brit spends £28,000 on smart lighting projects in the run-up to 2015. And that makes clear just how far we’ve come in the space of 20 years. Back in the mid-1990s, the only people with smart, mood lighting were billionaires like Bill Gates. But now the industry has matured, and we’ve all got access to these incredible technologies.

Lighting, however, is just the tip of the iceberg. What else is out there?

Music Everywhere

Of late there’s been a lot of chatter on the internet about so-called multi-room speakers. Sonos, a prominent speaker manufacturer, is now selling systems that will stream music throughout your home. Years ago, it was a dream of many people to be able to listen to their music, no matter where they were in their house. But now, thanks to Wi-Fi technology, that’s a reality.

Luxury Loos And Singing Baths

By now, most of us have had a laugh or two about intelligent Japanese toilets. But what was once a cultural curiosity has become something rather familiar. It turns out, we Westerners rather like the idea of having a toilet that’s smart enough to help us out. Japanese brand TOTO is making inroads into Western markets. And it’s premier toilet, the Tornado Flush, can be yours for a mere £11,400, according to www.TOTO.com. So what do you get for your money? Well, the toilet comes with a built in tornado system that makes short work of the flush. That’s good. It also comes with a heated seat, air deodorizer, dryer and a remote control, just in case you need to flush from the other side of the room. According to the manufacturer, it’s made to the highest quality standards. And that’s exactly what you’d expect if you’re paying what you’d pay for a small car.

Baths are also becoming more musical. A British couple was not content with sitting in the tub without their favorite music blaring out. And so they connected their bath up to their wireless speaker system and listened to music while soaked in the suds. Apparently, their bathroom hadn’t seen an upgrade in over three decades. So it must have been in a state of shock as it was catapulted into the twenty-first century.

Universal Security

Long gone are the days when you needed a tape recording station and expensive camera to secure your own home. Now homeowners can connect their cameras to the Wi-Fi and get a cheap app to monitor and record it all. Most apps connect to the cloud and give users a day or two of free storage. Some go further than this, and alert owners to intruder alerts. Right now Dropcam is selling securing cameras with 4X zoom for $149 each. Plus, they charge $99 per year for storage of security data. Another manufacturer, Simplicam has face recognition software. So it can instantly alert you to any intruders. It too retails for $149.

What’s cool about these systems is that it can be monitored from any location, so long as its connect to the router. It also allows you to listen into your home, using your phone. Some systems come with microphone systems that will ring your phone when there’s a noise in the house. You can listen to your own doorbell ringing if you wish.

If you’re not content with sight and sound alone, you can also grab some motion sensors. Companies like WeMO have developed a sensor that you can plug into any socket around your home. It detects any movement up to 10 feet away – so perfect for a front hall area. And it can be yours for $80. Insteon Wireless make a cheaper motion sensor. There’s comes with a nighttime mode, so you don’t constantly set it off in the day. And it has adjustable sensitivity, depending on your situation. You can pick one up for around $35.

Some Helpful Advice On Smart Technology

When it comes to smart technology, it’s best to really think about what you need. For instance, most people will probably benefit from being able to control their heating remotely, and time it to come on when they get back. And they might also benefit from being able to control the lighting from a distance. It’s also cool to have the ability to stream music throughout the home.

But where do the limits of practicality lie in today’s modern smart home? For instance, do we really need our fridges to tell us that we’re nearly out of milk? Or can we make do by using our own eyes and making that assessment ourselves?

What about washing machines? Do we need our washing machines to send us notifications that they’re low on salt? Or can we just check the warning light next time we do the dishes?

A smart home should be a helpful home, so stick to what works.