For the past few years, I have been very interested in setting up our house with smart home technology.

To figure out what’s appropriate, I have been reading up on various smart home brands and products that are currently on the market—it seems as if there are new ones popping up every week. A few of the brands I have looked at include the Nest Thermostat / Smoke Alarm (Nest is now a Google company and that’s a whole other discussion), Philips Hue, Belkin WeMo, and iDoorCam. Each one has its own technology benefits, utility, and of course, hip form factor, but I notice a few holes that make me want to hold off on making the investment.

If you want a truly connected home, you are going to have to mix and match from various products since no single company provides products to service every Smart Home need. Technology should make our lives easier, and yet with myriad devices comes the mixing of hardware, network setups, and apps. Do I really want to control my “Smart Home” with 4 different apps? I’m also the family’s go-to IT guy and the last thing I need is more devices to monitor, charge, fix, etc. — you know what I mean.

Samsung seems to have similar concerns and is slowing attempting to remedy one of the bigger issues, which is to create a single networking system to monitor all of your devices. Samsung is one of the first companies to create a managed smart home digital environment: Samsung Smart Home. The service allows users to control and manage their home devices through a single application – definitely a step in the right direction! Samsung has developed a dedicated Smart Home Software Protocol (SHP) to enable connections between all Samsung Smart Home products as well as those from other device and appliance manufacturers. Revolv is another company out there working to help rope in all your smart home devices; they also offer Geosense Proximity Automation built in which offers a cool location-based control feature. Perhaps both companies will offer APIs in the near future and open up their systems to all product and technology developers.

All that said, what’s really interesting is that most companies are changing their marketing language from “Smart Home” to “Connected Home.” That’s probably because most of the products on the market are not smart, but only connected to your network. The Nest thermostat is one of the few products that actually learns from your household behavior and adapts.

What is a smart device? You’re likely to get many different answers depending on whom you ask. To me, a smart device not only can learn patterns but it offers data to a user or its manufacturer to improve the customer’s experience, potentially save you money and continuously evolve and improve on future product design. Belkin will be releasing a new product soon that will read the digital signature of your home electronics and itemize their usage. This kind of information can influence human behavior both on the consumer side and product development side. For example, Rick Smolan, the author of The Human Face of Big Data, explains that by simply knowing that most households spend approximately 11% of their electric bill on their DVR hard drive spinning day after day can prompt us to change our behaviors. We can choose to reduce consumption by turning it off when not in use. The DVR system or cable companies can adjust their designs to reduce energy consumption for end users and overall wear on their hardware.

The smart home wave is just a ripple right now, but will grow to the size of a tsunami very quickly over the next few years. We will start to see all home product and many other product manufacturers getting smart and installing data gathering sensors censors in their products. The question is, what will they do with it and more importantly what will they let you do with it?