Redefining The Smart Home

Redefining The Smart Home

Everyday people have high hopes for the connected home. In fact, a GfK report shows that nearly 60% of all consumers think their lives will dramatically change over the next few years due to smart home technology. But what does that really mean?

The definition of home automation today is “the use of one or more computers to control basic home functions and features automatically and sometimes remotely.” This is a broad definition that includes computers that automatically turn on lights and start playing your favorite song when you walk through the front door.

While some of these types of features are popular and fun, for technology to make a significant impact on people’s lives, we need to redefine home automation to incorporate multilayered “internet of things” devices paired with services that take substantive action for a homeowner.

Let’s take a look at some of the recent breakthroughs that are bringing us closer to a definition of home automation that provides real value and that has the power to substantially change lives.

‘Works With…’

Consumers want products that just work. This fact hasn’t changed, but the products and consumers have. Today, this means that devices connected to the internet are better when they play well with others, and if they don’t, customers are happy to take their business elsewhere.

One of the first to recognize this new standard of connected products and devices was IFTTT (“if this, then that”), a service that makes it easy to connect apps and smart devices to each other. Example: If my window is open and it is about to rain, send me a text to remind me to close it.

More recently, Nest has made a big effort to integrate with the broader ecosystem. Through its “Works with Nest” program, the company has connected its products with multiple devices, appliances and other smart technologies through its API. (Full disclosure: Nest is a Notion partner.)

IFTTT and Nest have changed smart home connectivity by streamlining common tasks and automating a new level of control over the home. In this 24/7, on-demand world, any significant measure of convenience has the ability to greatly impact and improve a homeowner’s daily life.

At Your Service

Just because a device can be remade “smart” doesn’t mean it adds inherent value. See the $100 Bluetooth toaster or smart hairbrush. What does add value is layered applications that connect you with home services that provide peace of mind to homeowners.

For example, we just partnered with HomeAdvisor to immediately connect a homeowner to a highly rated and available plumber when Notion detects a water leak. The home improvement, maintenance, and repair services that HomeAdvisor and others provide are helpful as they are, but when paired with connected technology, it’s easy to see how the benefits can be expanded to provide real value.

Beyond convenience, these types of service-driven partnerships prompt homeowners to take action and solve home issues in real time, reducing damages, saving them money on repairs and minimizing the likelihood (and stress!) of filing an insurance claim.


Homeowners are eager for the peace of mind that comes with knowing if their home is safe and secure, making home security one of the fastest-growing subsets of the smart home technology market.

PCMag released results from a survey that showed consumers trust smart home security devices the most to keep their houses safe — even more than police patrols, traditional locks and alarms, and neighborhood watch groups. As smart home tech continues to evolve, our residences will be more secure. Nest Secure, SimpliSafe and AT&T Digital Life are just a few of the top-rated smart home security devices.

By protecting what people care about most — their families and homes — smart security devices are starting to solve another piece of the home automation puzzle.

Show Me The Data

Since the advent of smartphones, we are used to having the world’s data at our fingertips. But we have been missing what is going on in our own homes. Did I close that window? How often does my smoke alarm go off? Is that toilet leaking? Alexa can’t answer that — at least not on its own.

With a smart home, while all of the connections between devices and services are happening in the background, data about these interactions is collected and shared with homeowners so they can make better, more informed decisions. As an added value, depending on the insurance provider, homeowners who share data with home insurers receive discounts on their policies.

Final Verdict

The winning recipe for home automation is a mix of connected devices, data insights, value-added services and seamless user experiences. When these forces are combined, users are empowered to solve problems quickly, make intelligent connections to simplify their lives and ultimately protect what they love most.

We’ve only scratched the surface of what’s possible, and I’m encouraged by the hard work I see being done in our industry to substantially change lives for the better!

This is a condensed version of a piece our CEO and co-founder, Brett, recently published on Forbes. Check out the full story here.