'Smart Homes,' the Future of High-Tech Living

One tech writer shows how she has multiple devices talk to each other, but could her smart home get hacked?
8:00 | 04/03/15

Coming up in the next {{countdown}} {{countdownlbl}}

Coming up next:



Skip to this video now

Now Playing:


Related Extras
Related Videos
Video Transcript
Transcript for 'Smart Homes,' the Future of High-Tech Living
Chances are you probably have a smartphone. But not many of us have a smarthome like the one we're about to enter. If you're a techie this might be the house of your dreams where almost everything is rigged to be controlled with a simple touch screen. Tonight ABC's Neal Karlinsky finds out the dream home can lead to some rude awakenings. Reporter: Stacy may live in a Normal Austin, Texas, neighborhood. But inside her home it's more like the jetsons. Say hello to our new maid Rosie. Can you throw a forward pass? Reporter: At least as close as you can get. And all the weirdness that goes with it. Okay, ubi. May some music. Okay, I will play Cher. Reporter: So maybe some technology isn't quite ready for primetime. That's the dumbest gadget I own. Reporter: Stacy's world is a small window -- When you touch it, it turns on. Reporter: -- Into what we could all have with patience and perseverance, AT&T calls digital life. Where you can remote control virtually your entire house from your phone. Smarthome gadgets are poised to be the next big thing. Sales of smart gadgets are expected to exceed 36 million unit in the next two years. Her devices and appliances are all connected to each other and to the internet. Which means Stacy can control them remotely from her phone. When I look at the app I can see that the garage door is closed. When I want it to open I hit it. And boom, it opens. What's the big deal having a smart garage door? You can look at this app and says, you left your garage door open and you're at work. Now you can close it. You've got a weird door lock too, huh? It works like a Normal door lock. Lamp it, unlatch it. When you open the door, there's a keypad. And you just -- boom. Reporter: Once inside, she spends a lot of time talking to herself. Well, actually, to one of her many voice-controlled gadgets. This is the Amazon echo Alexa. What is "Nightline"? "Nightline," program broadcast by ABC in the united States. Pretty cool. Do you want to give it a try? Reporter: Even Alexa can stumble. What is the stock market doing? Hm. I'm not sure what you meant by that question. I take it there's a lot of that sort of thing going on in the house. It doesn't always work. If you're going to live in a smarthome, you've got to be prepared to live in a home that is a bit of a trial and error process. Are you an extremely and abnormally patient person? Your whole house is filled with potential problems. I spend probably about an hour a week troubleshooting my house. So -- that's probably because I have a good 40 gadgets in here. Reporter: Her smarthouse might outsmart a thief. That's pretty cool. Reporter: Could it be an easy target for another kind of criminal? You ever think about that, when you wire up your house, someone could control it? That's not a huge concern of mine. That's a lot of effort to go through. You're not too worried? Who's going to come after me? Reporter: That's what this Ohio couple probably thought until someone hacked into their baby monitor and started yelling at their newborn. They spoke to fox 19 in Ohio. I also heard a voice again start screaming at my daughter. He was screaming, "Wake up, baby, wake up, baby." Reporter: We invited a professional hacker, with her permission, to try to break in electronically. I have my directional ANTEN antenna. Reporter: Amir, whose real job is to help companies find weaknesses in their own products, demonstrates what malicious hackers could do parked just outside your home. You can literally drive up and down this neighborhood with that weird-looking antenna sticking out of the car and you can figure out the wi-fi from inside people's homes? Absolutely, yes. What can you see? Files, e-mails, conversations. Everything that is on their computer becomes easier for me to access once I'm on their wireless network. Reporter: Back inside, it's a tech geek paradise. I can't believe I'm asking you to show me your lightbulbs. These are smart and they're connected. So we can do things like -- What's happening? Do you feel like the sun is setting in here? I'm glowing. We can do deep sea. Whoa, look at that. How much are these lightbulbs? You have to buy a starter kit, $200. Each additional lightbulb is $60. $60 for a lightbulb? Come on. I know. But they're so fun. These last for like 22 years. Theoretically. They're L.E.D.S. Reporter: Aside from gadgeting lighting her house, some go on her body. A ring that lets her know when she's getting a call or text. But it's not working. Okay, right now it is not working. That is an excellent point. Reporter: A representative from ringly says perhaps Stacy didn't set up her ring properly. When we reacheded out to the company reps from some of these gadgets that didn't perform well, they told "Nightline" that they're constantly working to improve their products. Back outside, amir is running his own tests. It turns out hacking is a two-step process. First getting access to Stacy's wi-fi. Something amir calls the handshake. We got it. We got the handshake. Reporter: Now he has to run what he's found through a decoding program to crack the password. Here's where it seems that technology's frustrations can work for you. Because even weeks later, our hacker's program still hadn't got the password. With more than a little help from Stacy, like her actual password, amir shows off what he can do once he has access to the network. We're going to go ahead and turn on some of her appliances. I think within five years, most people will have at least -- That is something out of a horror movie. Man. Can you imagine? Like we knew something was going to go on. Yeah. That's terrifying. That was a real jump. We're going to go ahead and unlock the door, her back door. Oh! I think that was your lock. That was our lock. Let's go look. Reporter: That isn't any laughing matter. See, but that's the real fear, right? The other stuff's funny, whatever. But someone can unlock your house. Although if someone really wants to get into your house, you can pick a lock. Isn't that the modern-day -- there it goes again. Isn't that the modern-day lock pick? There's a guy outside with a laptop who's opening and closing your door lock. It is. And I don't like it. Reporter: The lamp went on and off. The blinds went up and down. Amir was in, even though he was outside. When we got the two of them together, Stacy had the same questions anyone else would have right about now. If I don't want a guy like you hacking into my network, what are the things I should do as a homeowner? Make sure that you keep the software up to date. Make sure you use a strong pass phrase that's unique and contains special characters. Your best bet is a password that's over 15 characters. Reporter: You don't have to be smart to have a smarthome. What you really need is a heavy dose of patience. Because for the millions ready to embrace it, the future is now. If you can just get it to work. Alexa, set a timer for two minutes. And sometimes she doesn't do it. Reporter: I'm Neal Karlinsky for "Nightline" in Austin, Texas. What do you think about smarthomes? Are the benefits of high-tech living worth the potential risks? Head to our "Nightline" Facebook page and let us know.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

{"duration":"8:00","description":"One tech writer shows how she has multiple devices talk to each other, but could her smart home get hacked? ","mediaType":"default","section":"ABCNews/Nightline","id":"30078416","title":"'Smart Homes,' the Future of High-Tech Living","url":"/Nightline/video/smart-homes-future-high-tech-living-30078416"}