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2016 A Year of Progress for “Smart House” Gadgets

Household items controlled by mobile phone.

Some household systems can be managed by mobile phone.

A number of “Smart House” products made headway in 2016, so before the crystal ball gets hauled up over Times Square, this is an appropriate moment to review which ones promised relevant real estate applications. Anyone who will be house hunting or selling in Monrovia anytime soon might want to become familiar with some of what’s out there.

It’s safe to say that the whole notion of household management gadgets that plug into the internet—an idea that was exotic a few years back—is now readily recognized by the majority of consumers. More and more of us are beginning to consider which ones will make life easier (rather than just producing a ‘gee whiz!’ reaction from friends and family). The best smart features really do add value.

The greatest enabler for most smart house devices is the presence of a home wireless network. Whereas installation was formerly tricky and expensive, it’s currently close to foolproof (even for those without a twelve-year-old to handle the installation). And prices are definitely down. You can find plug-and-play wireless routers for under $40—some of them carrying 90+% customer approval ratings. Pricier models are more powerful.

When it comes to having a real impact on Monrovia real estate commerce, true smart house innovations are those that have a practical application for controlling household systems. Those dealing with household security are among the leaders. There are smart deadbolt-enabling kits that remotely control compatible deadbolts. There are wi-fi-to-internet-connected video doorbell outfits that do a lot more than doorbells—they broadcast and record video of visitors while allowing truly remote smartphone monitoring.

Also in the security realm, there are smart batteries that plug into existing smoke or CO2 detectors. If the alarm goes off, it alerts your smartphone. You can then call 911 or silence the alarm. Battery-operated garage door openers have always been remote—but some of them now are smart, too. Just tap your mobile device’s screen to open or close the garage door. Soon, manufacturers say they will automatically open when your car nears the driveway, and close when it’s safely inside.

If you’ve ever had a nightmare about being on vacation when one of your house’s “water-prone places” floods, smart water monitors can send an alert to your mobile device. Smart light bulbs can be your artistically-attuned mood managers, changing their demeanor from bright white to softer tones based on the light in the remainder of the room. Some sense motion to help them decide whether they should turn themselves on or off. They can even pow-wow with the heaters, deciding that the heat should be turned on or off, depending on whether you’re at home.

More on the entertainment area are the smart speakers, like Echo or Google Home. They’re always on, slavishly awaiting your request for information about the local weather, news, or the kind of questions that occur to you when you know a robot database is craving attention. They’re called “speakers,” but they’re really pretty decent-sounding complete sound systems—so making your music library available for instant playback is increasingly popular.

Not yet available is a real estate smart speaker application that would respond to the command “play music that makes prospects want to buy this house.” Until they come up with that one, to sell you own Monrovia home, better just call me!