Since weapons were first shaped out of raw materials and the ability to make fire was perfected, the unstoppable forward march of technology has had an undeniable impact on human culture and society. Technological development is everywhere. From your automobile and the device you're reading this article on to your television, jet airliners and beyond, technology has shaped our world and molded our lives into what they are today.
It is perhaps not surprising then that one of the first technologies ever invented - the shelter - is evolving in front of us to take advantage of the various technologies found all around us. Whether you live in a home or an apartment, the traditional shelter is set to experience a sea change in the very near future. That change? The smart home, which will join smartphones, connected devices, and other technological wonders in shaping the "smart life" of the 21st century.
Is the Smart Home Finally Here?
By 2018, it is estimated that more than 180 million smart home products will have been delivered to market. In the next three years alone, the industry expects to grow by upwards of 50 percent. If the smart home hasn't yet arrived in force, it certainly will be here before we know it. And this can be attributed primarily to the so-called Internet of Things - that increasingly popular push to bring connectivity not just to phones and computers, but to all devices.
But why a smart home in the first place? Because connected devices offer numerous advantages over traditional alternatives. They give homeowners and apartment dwellers more control over their home, allow for improved security, provide for additional comforts and luxuries, and also make it possible to be more ecologically friendly in the process. Think of connected devices as digital butlers or maids; they do the work for you so that you don't have to.
Smart devices come in all shapes and sizes, and if recent launches of such devices as the Keecker are any indication, these shapes and sizes are destined to only become more diverse over time. A smart thermostat, like that produced by Nest, is even capable of learning. The benefits of such a device are clear: ideal temperatures at all times, with less effort and less energy. And companies like Google - one of the leaders in the smart home movement - seem to agree; in fact, the company purchased Nest for $3.2 billion.
What the Smart Home Portends - A New Way of Living
With established, reputable companies like Google and Samsung at the forefront of the "smart home" movement, there can be little doubt that technology in the home is here to stay. But what does the new smart home say about society on the whole? If one connects the dots - the emergence of smart home technology, the proliferation of smartphones and other devices, the growing Internet of Things movement - it's hard to draw any other conclusion than that society is starting to pursue not only smart devices, but rather a smart life. And it's not hard to understand why.
A smart life has the promise of being a better life; one that is more comfortable, less stressful, more connected, and perhaps more complete. Of course, the Luddites and traditionalists among us will argue (perhaps not without reason) that our over-reliance on technological devices like the smartphone have made us less capable of interacting with the real world. We stare into our phones even when we're sharing a physical space with the people we care about most. And that may be true to a small extent. In the end, however, there can be little doubt that technology is here to stay, and it's poised to continue having a major impact on our lives. One that is, hopefully, for the better.