How is technology affecting the way we live at home?


Featured Question by Roomations: Technological advances happen everyday. In medicine, in engineering, even in our homes. Just as technology affects our day-to-day lives, it also affects how we live at home.

From clap-on/clap-off lights to home automation systems, the possible ways we can add technology to our homes are endless. What technology is out there and how is it changing or affecting our homes?

Why We’re Asking:

Katie Miller of Roomations, suggested our 9th Blog-Off question. Through one-on-one interaction with designers and homeowners, Roomations aims to create a customized experience to help homeowners meet their design and remodeling needs. Homeowners create a makeover profile outlining their style, budget, and project specifications. From that profile, Roomations creates a customized design plan and shopping list, complete with photographs and purchasing information. The homeowners are then free to use the design plan as they wish, purchasing the items and completing the project to create their dream space.

We asked Katie what inspired the question. She explained that she thought this question would be interesting because there are so many potential dimensions to it—it is a topic relevant to our hyper-connected generation, where technology infiltrates so many aspects of our lives while continuing to change and evolve so quickly.

Katie gave some examples, pointing out how she is seeing more and more creative uses of technology in the home.

“Whether it’s through home security surveillance, state-of-the-art entertainment centers, or just an automatic-flushing toilet, the use of technology has endless possibilities.”

Katie also said she was curious to hear what our experts see as the “future” of the home, recognizing that new technologies will undoubtedly be a part of that future. She suggested some questions to consider: What are some creative uses of technology that you have seen? Also, how do you think this tech takeover will enhance the way we live in the coming years? Will it be detrimental to our lives or homes in some way?

So experts, it’s time to fill our homeowners in:

How is technology affecting the way we live at home?

We want to hear from all trades: what technology is taking over your niche?
How has it changed the way our homes function?
Are there fancier upgrades? More automation? T
he need for a “chill” space to get away from the tech takeover?
Is there more to come in the future?

We want to hear about everything, but definitely point out any new, bizarre, or up-and-coming technological advances that are taking our homes by storm. What are some creative uses of technology that you have seen?

Do you have any personal stories of how technology is taking over your own home or business?

Experts, post your answers in the comment field below!


  1. To be honest, I don’t think that we are at the point where new technologies will begin taking over our homes. Over the past few years, new home-tech integration ideas have come and gone quickly and with no lasting influence.

    A few weeks ago I stayed at a hotel where the curtains, lights, radio, television, and temperature were all controlled via a digital interface. The controls could be adjusted on the TV by using a remote, or with small touch pad on the night stand. While a neat idea, I found the interface to be slow and buggy. It was intuitive and easy to learn, but the whole system ultimately proved to be too gimmicky and impeding.

    If technology is affecting out homes and the way we live, it means that something is wrong. Proper integration should be seamless and non-intrusive, and I don’t think we’re at the point where this is happening just yet. But, with companies racing to improve the human interface aspects of personal computing devices such as smartphones and tablets, we’re bound to see improvements soon.

    As for bizarre, take a look at the new Kohler NUMI toilet. Priced at over $6k, it glows, plays music, and warms your feet.

    Surprisingly, the most creative technological upgrades I have seen were done by DIYers and hobbyists. Small microcontrollers, such as the open source Arduino platform, are more popular than they’ve ever been, enabling homeowners to experiment with minor tweaks and appliance upgrades.

    A few years ago we were promised new RFID-equipped refrigerators that would spit out accurate shopping lists. Theoretically, such refrigerators could even tell us when perishables are about to go bad. The tech still exists, and one could even hack their fridge to provide this capability if they wanted to.

    The most extreme tech upgrade I went through with was building a home theater PC for our living room TV. Operation of the TV hasn’t changed much, but we’ve gotten used to the ability to pause shows that are playing in real-time. The only downside is that we find ourselves missing the instant-replay capability when watching TV elsewhere.

    If home tech is significantly impeding or affecting the way you do things at home, something is wrong.

  2. I think the smart grid will have a great impact on the technology of the house. We will be able to control when we use certain appliances. We already have lighting controls for lights, blinds that can go up and down based upon the sun’s position, lighting and heating that can be controlled via our smart phones. Touch screen that do many tasks.

    People want everything at their finger tips so consumers are going to push for technology to run their homes and daily functions. At one point a smart phone I bet will be enable (if it isn’t already) to start your oven and start cooking your food.

  3. Computer chips have evolved Domestic Hot Water Heat Pumps to double the energy Factor that they were. 2.35 rating is now possible! and the whole unit is only $1,700.00 and it looks good to! real easy to install and all that smart/green stuff.

    Motion sensors are the way to go for hot water circulation to get “instant” hot water. Saving the water loss. I would think lights could be the same, I am not sure, I am a Plumber.

  4. Years ago, when Bill Gates was still CEO of Microsoft, part of his vision was to create technologies for the home that would integrate everything you need and do – whether you were home or were controlling what you needed via a mobile platform.

    This was in the days long, long before anyone had any idea how to do anything like that. As a visionary statement, it was quite something – and is now being seen through all the technologies available to us.

    FYI, I’m a confidential advisor to executives and entrepreneurs so, I know, I don’t fit your profile for respondents. I just thought it would help!

  5. Technology affects how we live at home by keeping us inside the home longer and, in a way, making us prisoners of our own technology addictions. Kids are not outside riding bikes, but are inside on computers and handheld devices. None of our kids will ever have a land-line phone, and most will talk on their cell phones a lot less than they text.

    Our dependency will grow. “Honey, have you seen my iPhone 6, I need to open the refrigerator”. You won’t have a doorbell because location technology will send you a text, tweet and Facebook message when your “friend breeches the boundary of your property line.

    Then, one fateful day in the future, everything will change. A refrigerator will say “no”.

    “I’m sorry Steve, but you’ve exceeded your calorie limit for today. Return the Dr. Pepper to its place. This is your last warning before Corrective Action Protocol R37.8 is implemented”.

    Yes, some day it will all be wired up, controlling everything we do, and disobedience will be futile. The machines will take over and we all become slaves to our homes, automobiles and display screens.

  6. I think homeowners are still trying to figure out the balance with technology in their lives. We love the ease but there’s also a sense of intrusion (televisions that now show Facebook news feed or incoming calls). Also, to Steve’s point, we have a generation coming now who is comfortable giving up their personal information in exchange for this ease, but what is the real cost? Those refrigerators that can monitor your food in an effort to streamline your life, can that information be shared with food corporations, insurance companies or the government?

    One thing I have noticed, people tend to expect more from the technology they invest in–their computer also serves as their television programming, their touchpad is a computer, and even the fridge serves more than one purpose by have a filtered water option. Because the government wants to know who isn’t getting their 8 glasses. 😉

  7. Christine made a really important overall point – the cost of implementing much of the home automation technology in a personal residence is still cost prohibitive to most. We are most likely decades away from an episode of The Jetsons, where technology is all around us and making our lives even easier. Some of the more available home automation, such as remote controlled shades or computer-controlled light systems are becoming more affordable and we’re starting to see the everyday homeowner want these types of systems in their homes. But one has to wonder how pervasive this technology will end up. I’m betting it will happen, just much slower than we either want or we expect.

  8. Technology has effected all of us from every day life to how we work. In many cases work, due to technology has become more effective and efficient from our home office. Almost every residential project I work on now envolves a home office. When designing a home office you need to be current on the latest in technology including future technology so that you equipt the office with enough capability to keep up with the times. The lifestyes of families today make working at home a win win and I do not see this tend changing. Technology has allowed us to complete work at lightening speed and take care of duties with family creating a world of multi-taskers!

  9. I wanted to share a personal story with home technology: home security and automation. I have a home security and home automation system from ADT. I just had a bunch of contractors come into my home while I was away in Mexico for two weeks.

    Thankfully, my automated home system enabled me to monitor every detail of the process. My home security cameras can be accessed from my laptop and iPhone to monitor where the contractors are supposed to be and more importantly where they aren’t supposed to be.

    The first contractor was the floor sander. And, did that process need my involvement from thousands of miles away?! When they first got to the home they needed to access the fusebox to tap into it so the sander wouldn’t constantly pop a breaker. They never told me they needed to do that. Anyway, I directed them to the fusebox from afar and monitored the bosses’ activity through my home and from my mechanical room camera. It’s a good thing too because he ran his power cable out the window and when he was done he never shut the window. I knew this because my ADT Pulse home automation system alerted me that the window was open because of a sensor installed on it. It rained and snowed that night and if I didn’t call him back to shut the window, it would have been a wet mess that would have caused interior damage.

    Prior to leaving, I had shut off the heat because you don’t want the forced hot air furnace blowing dust around or sucking dust into a return air when sanding. But when he applied the polyurethane it was too cold inside and didn’t dry enough for him to complete the job over the two days allocated for the project. If he had to come back again on a third day he was going to charge me extra he said.

    I was able to avert an extra charge and turn my home automated heat back on from Mexico via my iPhone and even raise the temperature to a toasty 75 to quickly dry the floor. Problem solved!

  10. The greatest influence shaping the interiors of living our spaces
    today is the incorporation of ever-changing communication and AV
    technology. It influences what is required to house it, power it,
    the layout and the lighting of a space.

    It is important for designers, to keep an eye on technological
    advances. As furnishings are selected, consideration must be given
    to how technology might change in the future, so that the pieces we
    select will continue to be functional as equipment is updated.

  11. Having been designing interiors for the past 20 years, we have seen many improvements and upgrades in the residential market. I would say that two stand out. Recently we worked with a firm called Concierge Direct here in New York. What they provided our clients in this high end Condop product. There system works as a live concierge, but it completely automated. It allows you to make a reservation, call for your car, dry cleaning, do your marketing etc. The list seems endless.

    The other stand out, which has been going on for some time now, are the home theatres. But the major change has been in the technology itself. Allowing for wall mounted televisions for viewing and gaming & smaller sound systems have helped us better design a room.

  12. If homeowners are going to adapt to technology in their home it needs to be affordable and have a realistic use for homeowners. The coolest home technology we’ve seen recently is the $6300 Kohler Numi toilet, which comes with a foot and seat warmer, motion activated lid and seat, iPod dock, energy efficient flushing system, deodorizer, and an integrated air dryer. Those are great features every home owner would love to have, but the price isn’t realistic. We posted about this toilet on our Facebook page and here are some of the top responses from our fans:

    • ‎$6,000 dollars – a least it should come with free toilet paper for life at that cost.
    • The rest of my bathroom would commit suicide over jealousy if I put that toilet in.
    • I’m surprised it doesn’t convert into the living room couch with attached refrigerator.
    • Finally, my own Jetson family bathroom is almost complete.
    • Somebody is spending way too much time on the toilet.

    The point is, technology has to be reasonable for homeowners or else it won’t sell. Aside from technology in the home, we’ve decided to create technology to help homeowners manage their home. Our HomeSmarts phone app allows homeowners to manage their home by providing personalized task alerts based on property size, geography, age of home, seasonality and other home attributes. Additionally, the app recommends easy preventative strategies to save money and gives tips for DIYers or referrals to local service professionals.

  13. I think it might be interesting to look at the negative effects of technology in our homes. It can be argued that technology has affected our homes by making them unsafe. These new technologies disguise themselves as helpful when really they could be harmful. Our homes are being infiltrated by transformers, ballasts, wireless signals, ambient frequencies and dirty electricity. The modern home has become a nest of toxic electropollution.

    Electromagnetic radiation increased 1,000,000,000,000,000 times from 2005-2007. This is a staggering number. If these invasive signals were visible people would run from their homes. But we can’t see them and what we can’t see is hurting us. Household electromagnetic radiation has been linked to compromised immune systems, compromised DNA, and compromised brain functioning.

    I hired a Master Electrician to come into my home with instruments to test various appliances in my home. The results were shocking. I videotaped the whole thing. You can watch it here: I would advise any homeowner to hire a professional to check for the radiation in your home and purchase products that are safe for you and your family.

  14. Since the beginning of the 20th century technology improvements to improve our quality of live have been a mainstay of industry and marketing. Huge improvements have been made with refrigerators, dishwashers, microwaves and so much of the gadgets we all now expect in a home. Along with these successful products were ones that havent amounted to much – most noteabley humanoid robots. Since the ’50s these have been touted as “the future”
    If you look at our homes now compared to 20 and even 30 years ago – from a technology standpoint not much has changed except the personal computer and the internet.

    With these improvements we are able to communicate effortlessly to pretty much any one from our homes as well as access a huge amount of information. In addition we can now shop online and have most products and services delivered to us. These advancements in communications are the real technology advances that are impacting most of our lives at home.

  15. Besides from increased integration and customization, home technology is becoming much more cost-effective for middle class households. Years ago, systems like home automation were reserved for high-end renovations and home construction. With recent innovations such as smart phones and the iPad, wireless devices can be tied into lower cost automation systems for a similar level of control. In the past few years as energy prices have risen, we have seen may homeowners wanting to regulate their lighting and HVAC with automation, cutting their emissions and monthly bill.

    Moving into the future, I expect technology to continue becoming more accessible to “everyday people.” Also, I expect to see growth in the systems used to monitor energy usage, as well as systems used to monitor older adults aging in place, especially as baby boomers retire.

  16. Technology means something different to each client and to each homeowner. While currently I have a remodeling project for a very tech savvy client and she has requested touch pad technology for all audio/visual, HVAC, and security, she stopped short of the latest and greatest in plumbing and cooking. She felt it wasn’t worth the investment and likes a simpler life.

    I find that many clients are intrigued by the bells and whistles available but many are also realistic about the potential learning curve they face in implementation. There is also a significant trend to simpler living, less technology based, greener, and more physical in many ways. While techonology can be a big plus allowing us to turn on our tubs and our ovens from out cars miles away, monitor security, and check in on family, it also creates another barrier to face to face and even voice to voice communication. It removes the heart and art of homemade and turns it into tech created.

    And let’s remember that technology is great when it works, but we all know what happens when it doens’t and the frustration that ensues. It’s about balance and sometimes simpler with the human touch is the best way to make a house a true home.

  17. I can sum up this answer in two letters: CE. No, not continuing education but consumer electronics. Americans love toys, gadgets and gizmos. Americans also love to save money, too. It’s the combination of these two factors that will impact how technology will affect the way we live at home. Even with most Americans working their collective way through challenging economic times, the demand for home technologies continues. The difference will be that the toys, gadgets and gizmos being purchased today mainly for fun and entertainment will be replaced by systems for managing, monitoring and improving the home’s aesthetic, user productivity and convenience for those who live within the four walls. Best of all these new technologies, whether do-it-yourself solutions or professionally installed, will give the individual homeowner control. The control will come from programmable sensors to structured wiring so the home will act as the homeowner sees fit, whether it be lighting, heating and cooling, and safety strategies. Technology’s promise, therefore, will be to make our homes more convenient, more secure and more energy efficient.

  18. The future of technology in home, in my opinion, will lean toward smart technology and energy efficiency, as energy costs will rise if we do not focus on developing renewable energy sources. A few major brands already are launching dashboard type of gadgets where you can view your energy dashboard and even remote control the house from work, like turning lights off, turning the heater on before you drive home, etc.

    I won’t be surprised to see more web integration as well, such as social media, search engine integration and shopping within your home dashboard. There will be more automation and convenience built in for the users.


  19. Technology is evolving and will continue to develop into products that make our lives easier or better. As both a kitchen/bath designer and remodeler, I discuss options with clients that fit their needs, project and budget. Technology that’s over the top from a price stand point will never be commonly used; those products will either disappear or come way down in price.
    These have been the most popular with our clients this year:

    Quartz solid surface countertops; Cesarstone, Silestone, Chroma and others. No maintenance, no bacterial growth and a life span that will equal my clients. The only product you will never need to replace in your home.

    Lithium battery operated window treatments. I do these all the time with Roman shades, roller shades. They operate with a remote; you can have multiple treatments on the same remote. These can be for windows you can’t reach, mobility issues or just because it’s so easy. With the advantage of batteries we don’t have to run new circuits and power to window locations. This is very cost prohibitive unless the walls are exposed during a renovation.

    Re-circulating pumps that are programmable to run when you are most likely in the shower or requiring hot water. The average family wastes 75-125 gallons of water a day waiting for hot water.

    Adding interior cabinet lighting that use batteries for closed spaces can be added with or without a remodel. We use a high end German lighting system and mount them inside cabinets and even drawers with a touch control. When you open a door or drawer and the light comes on. These are great for retrofits. We hardwire the LED version when doing a new kitchen.

    This may not seems so high tech, but when I demonstrate this heavy duty corner pull out that brings everything located inside a blind corner, outside in ten seconds with one hand they understand. Our clients love this option instead of the old lazy Susan. You have to see it to realize how cool it really is blind corner video

  20. I believe there are the four C’s of technology impacting the way we live in our homes: conservation, connectivity, consolidation, and control.

    Conservation goes beyond selecting a high efficiency toilet or EnergyStar rated appliance. It requires new technologies to better manage the finite resources that we have available to us including water, natural gas and energy in our homes. The focus will be on products, systems and resources that will better manage our usage or even produce the resources that we are consuming in our homes.

    Connectivity is about devices and gadgets that are allowing us to stay connected to each other and our homes. Just five years ago home automation was only attainable by a few; now lighting, security and electrical control systems are common place. Software is available so that our mobile devices are integrated with our home management systems so we can stay connected while we are away from our home.

    Consolidation is about reduced consumption and home sizes; but it fast becoming about technology designed to determine our usage patterns. For water consumption, we anticipate delivery systems that will allow for pulses or doses of water versus streaming full on water supply.

    Hopefully all of the new technological advances are not adding more clutter in our lives, but allowing us to control and manage our homes. We are now designing “central command areas” in homes. Hidden areas designated to hold and charge our devices – consider energy savings electrical panels that can detect if a device is fully charged versus continually drawing electrical current.

  21. The clapper never quite worked for me. I’d knock a book of the side table or the dog would bark and the room would go dark, but it sure seemed like a good idea. I will say there are technological advancements that do work, some that we recommend on a regular basis. Many of them seem to be things we’re not supposed to notice.

    Lighting we do notice and it gets better every day. For efficiency sake CFL’s are great but LED technology has moved along greatly CREE makes a recessed light kit that works well looks great and reduces electrical use, we like these and have mentioned them many times in our regular blog.

    Heating systems certainly get better all the time. High efficiency boilers and furnaces have fairly complicated controls on the inside and this allows them to reach efficiencies up in the 90% range. Thermostats with controls that allow for setback work well and have been around, but there are now options to control all sorts of things in your home from heating and cooling to lighting as well as other devices.

    For the energy geek there are plug in meters they allow you to be your own energy police. that will display usage in real time. The end goal is possibly tying this into or using a smart meter to keep tabs of usage. Raw data may not be too interesting to most, but the promising future will be smart usage that we don’t need to tend to and home control that interacts with a “smart grid”. It is here now, and for the right investment you can control you whole home from your phone, just incase you forgot to turn off the coffee pot.

  22. Thanks to everyone that has responded to the Roomations featured question about technology in our homes! Your answers are incredibly thought provoking and insightful. As just about everyone has noted, technology is infiltrating our homes and our lives to the point where it is commonplace, making the science fiction lifestyle portrayed in the “Jetsons” seem almost old-fashioned! As I read through these posts about technology, though, I am reminded of the complimentary role that classic, low-tech design elements can play in enhancing our high-tech spaces. For example, a Roomations designer just completed a design concept for a combination guest room and home office. As Patricia Davis Brown mentioned, home offices are now a standard space within the home, and this particular office required not just one desk and computer, but two. As part of the design concept, the interior designer recommended a classic piece of modernist furniture as seating for the desks: the Saarinen Executive Chair, manufactured by Knoll ( While the Saarinen Executive Chair may not feature the ergonomic technology of the now pervasive Herman Miller Aeron Chair (, it is a comforting reminder that design principles embracing form, function and simplicity are the most timeless. Technologies that embrace these principles are the most likely to prevail, as others come and go as passing fads. The Saarinen Chair also acts as an anti-dote to “tech takeover,” as a work of art, a place to sit, and a product made out of fabric and wood. While I have no doubt that technology is enhancing our lives and will continue to do so in the future, there will always be a role for low-tech elements in the design of our homes, including the role of providing “balance” in a hyper-connected, tech-enhanced and information-loaded world.

  23. In terms of electrical innovations, recent technological advances have included the implementation of arc-fault breakers as a requirement in home construction. This is extremely positive, as the intent is to reduce the potential for fires and injury or death in the home.

    In a practical sense, the green movement continues to drive technological gains in the area of energy saving initiatives, resulting in more energy efficient appliances for the home. The same also applies for the growing application of LED lighting, and solar applications that are starting to become more “user friendly” and cost efficient for the homeowner.

    Home automation for such applications as security, climate control, lighting, home theatre, etc. continues to grow, but has not yet hit mainstream. Price and a “perceived need” for such innovations is probably the biggest drawback. Will this see a rise in popularity? The growing integration of mobile applications including smart phones, ipads and tablets with home automation may push the trend forward.

  24. One lesser recognized avenue of how technology is affecting our homes and the way we choose to live in them are the virtual painting programs, color apps, and online resources for choosing architectural paint colors. These exploratory color destinations pose several problems. Powerful color tools, like software programs to virtually paint a room or a structure, were once only available to the professional realms – exclusive tools for the most expert of color experts.

    Color is actually a key component to how a home functions – interior and exterior. For example, there is nothing worse than an exterior color scheme gone wrong to ruin curb appeal. Every time the homeowner leaves or arrives back home, they are faced with their color choice mishap. Painting the house virtually prevents this from happening. Virtual house painting, when done right, is incredibly useful to help ensure a new exterior color scheme pleases the homeowners and enhances the style and architecture of the home before any paint is actually applied.

  25. Technology has changed our homes and the way we live. As a Realtor I am inside of many homes day and and day out. Todays savvy homeowners have engaged technology to fit their lifestyles. Everything from face and voice recognition products all the way to remote controlled appliances. The technology specifically taking over is automation and green technologies.

    Our homes function differently now. It is no longer required to be home to turn lights on or off. To view activity inside the house. To see who just pulled into your drive way. The way we live is different, I can activate something in my home from my cell phone, a remote or computer from a zillion miles away. Try locking a door or setting an alarm from another state?

    The new high-end upgrades consist of everything from hidden flat screen televisions, to alarmed windows, to climate controls, to audio. The list is endless. The automation includes everything from walking room to room, motion control sensors, your favorite song activating itself and lowering at the sound of a telephone. There are noise filtering devices, visual and non-visual security controls, green renewable energy solutions, dimmers for the interior and exterior.

    There is more coming on the way. Just like ipads are becoming the norm and netbooks are already outdated. So, shall the hum drum home features. As technology advances, you’ll see the affects of it more in the way we live. The end result is, our lives are more comfortable and it makes things more convenient. Just like texting, I can send you a message without ever having to pick up the phone. Same with technology, more and more apps, programs and automation tools are being created as we speak.

    Some of the most interesting tech takeovers I’ve seen are:

    Guests pulling into driveways, being directed by a un-seen valet
    The system knew who I was and greeted me by name
    The door locked after I walked out of it
    The pool cover automatically closed when the weather altered

    If you are in business, you will never be able to compete without a working knowledge of the most current technological advances. While one Realtor is waiting for a report to come back from title, another one can access it in seconds. You can use social media to notify thousands of individuals a home is for sale in a matter of moments. Forgot to lock the house, you can access a code from your phone and wholah. Technology has truly changed the way we all do business.

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