We live in an age where everything can be decided by a tap of a finger on a smartphone. With the invention of smart home technology, everything in your house–from the thermostat to the locks– can be programmed directly from your smartphone. 2016 saw about 80 million smart home devices installed, a 64 percent increase from the previous year. A big chunk of that number includes personal home assistants, like Google Home and Amazon Alexa. Capable of more than simply answering questions about the weather, these robots can interact with the smart technology in your home in order to program them according to your routine. Smart homes have created an industry expected to be worth $21 billion by the year 2020. The United States market has been the most receptive to the new technology, followed by Japan and Germany.

So, what’s the market driver behind smart homes? Well, convenience is the first obvious answer. Want the oven preheated before you get home from work? Perhaps you forgot to turn off the lights in the living room? Simply login to the app on your phone to adjust these settings.  

The second driving force behind smart home devices is energy efficiency. No one enjoys overpaying for their utilities and if technology will help decrease the bill each month, many homeowners are willing to make the purchase. In 2015, energy management home devices saw a revenue of nearly $600 million. Devices like the Nest Learning Thermostat adjust to your schedule and will automatically slip into an Eco Temperature mode to save energy when there is no one in the house. The Nest thermostat advertises that it saves customers up to 12 percent on their energy bill every month by learning the occupant’s routines. The thermostat can also be controlled from your phone and will provide an energy consumption report at the end of every month.

The third factor that has boosted sales is safety. Technology has made it easier to set up a security system that can do everything from lock your doors to turn on a motion detector when no one is home. Another device every home should be equipped with is the Nest Protect. No longer a bulky plastic circle, the Nest Protect is a smoke and carbon monoxide detector. The detector speaks a warning alert and sends one to your phone, before blaring the location of a potential problem. If you’re the kind of person that burns popcorn often, this feature is especially useful as it enables you to hush the alert from your phone. While smoke detectors are supposed to be checked monthly, people rarely do. The Nest Protect tests its own batteries and sensors over four hundred times a day and will send a phone alert when it’s time to swap out the batteries.

From ensuring the safety of a home, to asking Alexa to program a coffee machine, smart home technology employs innovative ideas that make people’s lives easier, enabling them to adjust the settings in their house from their vacation hundreds of miles away.