Don’t worry: Technology may come and go, but some things never change. In the not-so-distant future, cars will drive themselves, but home will always be home. It’ll just be a heck of a lot smarter.
Granted, some tech is better than other tech. No one needs a Wi-Fi-connected juice press that doesn’t actually juice anything (see: Juicero). Gadgets that offer real utility — like a smart oven or open-source furniture — stand a better chance of becoming ubiquitous.
If you’re skeptical, think of it this way: In-home refrigeration was the crazy, newfangled invention of 1913. Now, few among us can imagine living without it.
What will the home of the future look like? We took stock of the most exciting tech-forward home products on the market. It’s only a matter of time until at least some of these come standard in every American home.
Thirty-nine million Americans — one in six of us — now have a smart speaker in their homes, and all signs indicate this figure will only creep higher with time. In the living room of the future, smart speakers will be a central feature, with newer models connected to every element in your home, from the lightbulbs to the lock on your front door to the thermostat. They will become so essential you won’t think twice about plunking down $400 for one.
Watching TV and movies will be a wildly different experience. Why devote precious square footage in your living room to a giant screen when you could have one that effortlessly rolls up away and out of sight, like the one LG Display debuted at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show? Or you may choose not to have a TV at all and opt instead for a superhigh-resolution short-throw projector that turns any white wall into your own personal movie theater. Sony’s new $30,000 model would fit the bill, assuming the price comes down.
It will be much easier to design your living space. Apps and online platforms such as Modsy and Hutch will use virtual and augmented reality to help you visualize how a couch or chair will look in your home. You’ll have lots of options: Modular, open-source furniture will dominate interior design trends, taking the lead from Ikea’s Tom Dixon-designed Delaktig couch, which has more than 97 different configurations. Choose wisely, because you’ll be spending more time on the couch than ever: Facebook’s forthcoming living-room-geared video chat device will reportedly use smart camera technology to make people on both ends feel like they’re sitting in the same room.
Expect your living room to be even more of a central hub than it already is. Deliveries will arrive here instead of on your front porch, thanks to Amazon.com’s new Prime service, which allows verified delivery persons to carry goods right into your home.
And don’t for a minute think ultramodern gadgetry is only for the younger set: Homes for the elderly will be outfitted with internet-connected gear that allows adult children to monitor their aging parents.
The ultimate goal of kitchen technology is not to do the cooking for you but to make you a better cook. Smart ovens will be outfitted with cameras and digital thermometers, helping you monitor your food as it bakes. Instead of just hoping the “medium-hot” setting on your gas range is hot enough, smart skillets will take guessing out of the equation by sizzling food at a precise temperature that you’ll set on a connected app.
Smart refrigerators will help reduce waste by letting you know when the carrots in your fridge are about to go bad, and offer several recipes for them to boot. The smart fridge from LG will even send cooking instructions to your smart oven. Meanwhile, 3D food printers will help you create intricately shaped pasta, and smart-technology-equipped ice cream makers will automatically sense the hardness of the mixture within and keep it ready until it’s sundae time.
The latest wave of home-focused technology is about making everyday life better and easier, and that begins with a good night’s sleep. Sleep trackers such as Eight’s smart mattress and smartphone apps Sleep Time and Sleep Cycle will use sensors to measure your sleep metrics, while smart alarm clocks like Amazon’s mini-Echo will help you begin your day on the right foot with time, weather and news.
Need a gentler wake-up? The smart aromatherapy alarm clocks from Nox Aroma will sense when you’ve reached your sleep cycle’s lightest point and release a wake-up scent of your choice.
Once you’re up and moving, it’s time to get dressed. Your closet will be filled with clothes you don’t just wear: They will interact with you, tracking health markers and habits. Among them: MadeWithGlove’s still-in-development smart gloves, which promise to detect skin temperature and provide heat accordingly. Your clothes might even change shape or color based on your feelings, as will the Sensoree mood sweater, now available for preorder.
And if you want a new wardrobe, you won’t have to even leave the house to find the best-fitting clothes: Amazon’s patented mirror will let you virtually try on outfits from the comfort of your own bedroom.
Spalike experiences at home will be the norm. No need to draw your own bath — your digital assistant can do that for you with smart shower systems like those from U by Moen. High-tech tubs such as those from Toto will induce relaxed brain waves, while nose-geared gadgets like Olfinity will let you program and control your own aromatherapy session from your iPhone while you soak.
Sound far-fetched? Remember, a decade ago few of us could have imagined being so attached to our smartphones, let alone ordering groceries off the internet or barking commands at a digital assistant. With time, even the strangest things can become normal.