We've been seeing it in movies and reading about it in books for years--decades even. Smart homes have fascinated the public with promises of an easier and more comfortable life. Your home will always be the ideal temperature, have the perfect amount of light, and serve you up a nice hot cup of coffee, just the way you like it. We knew this way of life was what the future held for humanity, we just didn't think that future would be upon us so quickly. But it is. Smart homes, or the Internet of Things, is a reality. People already have homes like this and the concept is becoming more widespread, as well as more affordable. The following are five of the 'smart' appliances you can expect to see in homes across the nation more and more often:

1. Home Lighting And Speakers

Creating ambiance has never been so easy. No finding the remote or getting up to flip switches. Just sit back, relax and swipe through the lighting app on your phone. The app connects to your Wi-Fi and gives you control over the lighting systems and various bulbs in your home. But it's much more than just switching the light on and off, and even the ability to dim the lights. Yes, with smart home lighting you can do all of that, but you can also adjust the softness and color of the light. Some systems will even customize light spectrum options for you based on the pictures in your phone or colors that you enjoy. Combine this with a beautiful digital display on your television screen and you'll set the perfect tone for any occasion.

For those who want to take the ambiance to the next level, a voice-controlled smart speaker system provides that finishing touch. A few voice commands is all it takes to turn the music up or down, change the song, change base and treble levels, and so on. It's all done via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi and can even be interconnected to the lighting system, allowing users to control the lights with their voice as well.

2. Alarm System

Home security is a growing concern for families, the elderly and those living alone. A home is supposed to be a safe place and smart alarm systems help to create that safety. There are multiple smart security systems on the market. They offer features like door and window motion sensor updates that are sent to the user's phone and live video feed of inside and outside areas of the home that can be viewed through an app. Any suspicious videos can then be saved and sent to the cloud. There are also options to remotely arm and disarm the security system and panic button features that automatically call for emergency services.

3. Appliances And Outlets

One of the worst feelings that bubbles up only after you've left the house is that feeling that you left something on. Maybe it was the coffee maker or the iron or the stove. With smart appliances and outlets, you never have to have that feeling again. As far as the outlets go, there have been smart devices created that plug directly into an outlet and then have appliances plugged into them. That device can be switched on and off through an app. So whether you've just walked out the door or you're halfway across the country, you still have total control over your appliances.

When it comes to the appliances themselves, there are also smart options. Some of the big names in appliance manufacturing are seeing the consumer demand for more connected homes, and they're reacting to it. This means you can be out running errands and also running your house. Have a dinner party and need to get the oven pre-heated? Need to get the house vacuumed before a guest comes over? Forget to change the washing machine cycle? You no longer have to run back to the house in a frenzy to get these things done. It just takes the swipe of a finger.

4. Locks And Doorbell

Smart locks are nothing new. We've seen them on cars for over a decade. They've been installed in offices and even some homes. But their use in homes is just now becoming popularized. Now people's smartphones are not just their calendar, contact list, phone, and scrapbook, it's also their key. The electronic deadbolt is connected to an app that allows users to lock and unlock their doors remotely, as well as send house guests electronic keys to use during their stay.

The smart doorbell is one of the more unique IoT offerings but it can come in handy. They work with standard doors or even those awesome Murphy Doors that we talked about previously. It connects to an app on your phone so that when the doorbell is rung, you can speak to, listen and see the person outside your door. For those with security concerns, this can be useful. For all others, it is most useful when you're away from the house so you can interact with visitors, whether it's a friend dropping by, a door-to-door salesman, or a courier service with a package for you. Pair this doorbell with CheckIn Easy at your next house event and you'll be all set.

5. Thermostat

While the other systems are definitely IoT and have incredibly advanced capabilities, the smart thermostat options have gone to the next level. With this device your home thermostat is connected to an app on your smartphone that you can control remotely, allowing you to set the temperature at your house if you're away for an extended period but want it cool when you arrive back home. In addition, because the system slowly learns your preferences and your schedule, it will automatically adjust the temperature without your input or any action required on your part. By more gradually switching between your preferred temperatures at different times of the day and year, it can also significantly reduce your energy bill.