Pretty soon, motorists will punch a button in their overhead console to open the garage door, turn on the house lights, adjust the home temperature, turn on the sound system and unlock the front door.
This next step in connectivity -- dubbed the Internet of Things -- will be a cockpit option in the next couple of years.
Gentex Corp., supplier of HomeLink remote garage door openers, is branching into home automation. At the CES technology expo last week in Las Vegas, the company introduced an updated HomeLink that also can control smart-home systems such as Alexa, Wink or Nest.
"One hundred percent of our customers are trying to figure out how to handle home automation," said Gentex CFO Steve Downing. "They are all trying to figure it out. Some have no strategy yet, but they all acknowledge it."
Gentex, best known for its self-dimming mirrors, acquired HomeLink in 2013 from Johnson Controls. Gentex estimates that its North American sales of garage door openers will rise 10 per cent this year to 8.5 million units.
Downing believes the company has a marketing head start because the HomeLink brand is well known. But larger competitors are jumping in.
At CES, Robert Bosch GmbH displayed in-car apps that allow drivers to monitor activities at home, adjust the thermostat or even check food supplies in the fridge. Bosch, a major producer of sensors for the Internet of Things, hopes to exploit growing demand for smart appliances.
Although it's unclear whether car-home connectivity has wide appeal, automakers are testing the market.
At CES a year ago, Ford Motor Co. announced plans to integrate its Sync voice activation with Alexa and Wink. For example, a Ford owner could ask Alexa to close the garage door, turn on the porch lights or activate the home security system.
In August, Hyundai Motor Co. introduced an app that allows Genesis owners to lock, unlock or warm up their vehicles remotely by using voice commands via Alexa.