Ernest Anunciacion says his Minneapolis condo is pretty smart. "I can control a lot of things through applications on my iPhone. Turn my lights on and off, into different color schemes, control our music and television, turn our air conditioner on right now," Anunciacion said. "I can monitor the status of of my home."
Anunciacion's thermostat can detect if he or his wife is home, at work or on the road, adjusting the temperature accordingly. It also delivers monthly energy consumption reports and analysis. If the smoke and carbon monoxide detector goes off, it sends him a text alert.
Other features are less practical.
"Let's says I'm going to watch the Vikings on Sunday and I want to set the mood," he said. Anunciacion tells his iPhone to turn the lights on and set them to "Vikings."
"Your wish is my command," Siri replies. The living room lights turn purple and kind of gold.
Best Buy has its eye on these kinds of smart home innovations as a possible next big tech wave it can ride for sales and profits.
In a conference call with analysts earlier this year, CEO Hubert Joly said he's bullish on the connected home business and that the field has advanced beyond safety.
"Increasingly, it's not just about the security cameras or the smart locks and so forth," Joly said. "Everything in your home is connected. Continued innovation and the complexity creates a big opportunity for us."
• Related: Best Buy had its 50th birthday on Monday
In Best Buy's Roseville store Geek Squad technology education agent Jacob Gulliver says the technology isn't that complex.
"The thing that most people are confused about is how this works, how it all connects and usually it's pretty easy to explain what the process is," he said. "If they've done any type of technological set up before, usually it's not too tough. If you can install an app on your phone and if you can select your wireless network, usually it's pretty easy."
You can get started for $100 or less by, for example, purchasing a basic webcam to monitor your home, Gulliver said.
There are much pricier gizmos as well. Integrating lights, locks, alarms, monitors, TVs, sound systems and more can cost thousands of dollars.
"We're getting more and more smart things," Gulliver said at his store. "We do have a smart refrigerator. There's a camera inside. You can look and see if you get to the grocery store and think 'Oh, I could really use some eggs.' ... We've got a washing machine that will send you a text when it's done." To be sure, the connected home business is in its early stages and there's a lot of complexity to manage.
Right now, consumers have to think about whether different devices can talk to each other or not. That's because Google, Amazon, Apple, Samsung and other companies are all competing to establish their products and connectivity standards as industry norms.
"It's a battleground," said Jonathan Collins, research director at ABI Research. "Different companies, they're each trying to out their pitch about how much control they want. How much they want to have control over which devices connect into their own offering, their own system."
The winners will likely go on to provide the one or two dominant apps that control many devices.
Honeywell is factoring that into it's product development. The company, which has a big Minnesota presence, is working to make its smart thermostats, water leak detectors and other control technologies compatible with other devices so they can work with a single app to manage all smart devices in a home.
And the software has reached that level of capability, said Scott Harkins, a vice president with Honeywell's connected home and building operations, based in Golden Valley.
"The connectivity that allows the different products in your house to connect is much smarter than it was even in the early 2000s," he said. "Companies like Samsung are now building connected home platforms right into their televisions. Apple is building it into Apple TV. Amazon has built it into the Amazon Echo."
Morningstar analyst R.J. Hottovy said even though the connected home market is still in its early stages, sales are likely to ramp up fast.
"It's probably is going to be the next major driver in the consumer electronics consumer space," Hottovy said, "with the number of connected devices expected to exceed 25 billion by 2020."