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How Smart Home Technology Has Evolved from the Beginning to Today!

by Ann Ferguson

You might not think it, but a “smart home” isn’t as new of an idea as you’d think. Sure, there’s always the example The Jetsons set, but the idea goes back even further than this beloved cartoon! In fact, the concept of consumer-oriented automation wasn’t thought of until Nikola Tesla created a remote control for a toy in 1898!

But it would still take several years for the true concept of smart home automation to get off the ground and evolve as we know it today!

Did You Know? At the Chicago World’s Fair in 1933, there was an exhibit called the “Home of the Future,” where the creators included their idea of future home technology but didn’t have the tech to show the ideas properly.

1975 & the X10 Revolution

Retro room from the 70s

As we said, the idea of a “smart home” has been around for a long time, but it wasn’t until the invention of X10 that smart homes started getting off the ground. X10 is a communication protocol that uses the home’s AC wiring to enable communication between devices and control modules. It sends digital information through radio frequency bursts through the wiring, allowing people to control devices in their homes remotely.

While this invention was a breakthrough, it had several drawbacks. It was super expensive, slow, unencrypted, and unreliable because of the signal loss and interference. You could even accidentally turn off the lights in your neighbor’s house with it — oops, sorry, Ted!

Progress & Hello, Internet (80s to 90s)

IoT depiction

With the invention of X10, the world of “smart homes” started growing. By the 80s, motion-sensing lights, automatic garage door openers, programmable thermostats, and security systems were more affordable and prevalent. And in 1984, the term “smart house,” as we know it, was coined by the American Association of Home Builders!

During the 90s, the progression and evolution of the internet enabled more smart devices to become available, especially with the Internet of Things (IoT). In fact, IoT was born from a challenge during this time, which revolved around controlling a toaster from the internet! This got the ball rolling for remote access, but the then-current smart systems were still using X10 systems for wired devices and simple automations.

Did You Know? During this time, Microsoft also predicted its version of what a smart home would have today, like security systems, environmental controls, smart locks, and lighting controls!

Riding the Z-Wave (Early 2000s)

In the early aughts, innovative technology came on the scene — Z-Wave & Zigbee! Also known as the “Z-Wave alliance), these two platforms opened up smart home capabilities because they didn’t require routing cables through the walls to work. With these wireless systems, smart homes could use encrypted communication to keep everything more secure.

And the bonus benefit is that both these technologies can communicate and operate with each other, which means having more interoperability between your devices! It’s no wonder this technology is still used today (although our team handles all compatibility issues!).

Did You Know? The Z-Wave platform operates on a sub-1GHz band, which isn’t affected by interference from Wi-Fi or other wireless technologies like Bluetooth!

Going Wireless (2010)

Smart panel allocating how much energy and gas usage

By 2010, using at-home wireless Internet to run your systems became more prevalent — it just made everything more manageable, especially with smart home thermostats! And since technology was advancing, a new method of power data collection became available. This means smart homes could track how users operate the system and provide analytics.

These analytics made it much easier to make changes to your smart home automation so it can run smoother!

Today & Tomorrow

Woman using smart control to turn on lights

It’s amazing to see how much smart home automation has grown! Today, smart homes are more effective, with budget-friendly and extensive systems you can use to make all parts of your life convenient. Whether that means helping your kids stay on their routine, saving on your energy bill, maximizing your home entertainment, or improving your home’s security, there’s extraordinarily little your smart home can’t do.

And the smart home systems of “tomorrow” will go even further yet! Experts suggest that virtual assistant technology will shift from passive to active so they can anticipate users’ needs, and AI fundamentals like video recognition and multi-language understanding will continue to improve!

Do You Have the Smarts?

Smart home technology has come a long way and will only continue to improve! So, why not get on the automation train at Refined Systems today? Our team of experts has years of experience transforming regular homes into the homes of the future!

Call us today to schedule your consultation appointment, and we’ll review your ideas and what you want your smart home to do!