Smart Home Automation
The concept of smart home has been around for quite a few years now.
21:37 07 June 2017
And a fascinating idea it is - a really helpful application of computer enabled automation, letting you take complete control of running a home such as centralised heating, lighting and even the kitchen.
What is a Smart Home?
A smart home has a network of connected devices and applications, all connected to the internet, which can perform an intended function as directed from a remotely connected personal computer or a mobile phone.
Perhaps you want the heating to work effectively so it’s not using gas unnecessarily but it’s still warm enough when you get home. Or maybe you want the lighting to flick on automatically when you are just a couple blocks away from home.
How to set up a smart home?
Well, for a start, a smart gadget, a mobile device- maybe a smart phone or a tablet-, and a wireless network are adequate to turn your abode into something straight out of The Jetsons.
Yes, that’s the basic setup.
Let’s look at how the smart tech powers a smart home. Let’s consider a smart device. Say, a smart fridge.
With the help of built in camera and sensors, the smart fridge keeps track of the supply of groceries and sends out a timely message alert to your smart phone whenever it is time to replenish so you can then stock up on the essentials as required by placing an order online.
That’s a rough idea how the smart home technology is meant to work.
While we are not sure how a smart home will look like in future, it’s quite certain that life is going to be very easy and convenient when you have such smart devices and gadgets sitting inside your home, sending you alerts and responding to your commands.
Advantages of Smart Home Technology
If you are on the fence about embracing the smart home technology, it may help to know there are a few great advantages of setting up a smart hub in your home.
Here are a few you should know about.
· Save Big on Energy Costs
Energy costs always seem to be on the rise, making us wonder how to shave some money off our monthly bills. And the biggest hike in energy bills can be put down to the energy wasted on leaving the lights on in empty rooms or on overheating/cooling them.
All hope is not lost- there’s a smart solution though.
Powered by cutting edge technology, motion sensors and automatic timers help keep energy costs down to a minimum by detecting things such as motion and ambient temperature in a room.
Moreover, some smart home tech solutions let you control lighting and heating remotely so you can always follow everyone’s schedule and ensure that the rooms are ready when they are.
And that means you won’t find yourself owing a lot of money to your energy provider.
· Make Your Home More Appealing to the Market
More and more buyers are interested in homes equipped with smart tech, attracted by the cost savings and efficiency it offers in the long term.
If recent reports are anything to go by, smart heating, lighting, smart locks and remote access for enhanced security are topping the wish list of home buyers.
It goes to show that adopting smart technology is obviously one of the important things you should do to drive up your home’s value and make it appealing to prospective buyers.
· Make Your Home More Secure
With smart tech for added security, your home will become a safe haven to live in.
And for those who like more control, there are advanced security systems on the market now that allow you to place intelligent sensors and motion detection cameras wherever you want in your home so you can use your smart phone to connect from a remote location and see what’s going on inside whenever a sensor is activated.
Of course, it might be a little expensive but the peace of mind of having an advanced security system in place is totally worth it.
· Life Becomes A Lot Easier
And, finally, we get to look at the most important benefit any smart home tech can provide.
The tech smarts of a connected home are meant to make your lives a lot easier.
Picture what life will be like when you have smart things sitting in your house, ready to do your bidding when you throw some commands at them.
Life will be different then.
You need not bother about coming home to a cold, dark house ever again, thanks to smart home heating, lighting solutions which are designed to be controlled with a touch of a button no matter whether you are in your home or somewhere else.
With intelligent fridges that checks on its contents all the time and sends out timely alerts when supplies run low, you don’t have to worry about arriving home to cook and discovering you have nothing left.
And all of this means there will be less work to do.
Voice Recognition - A Key Driver of Smart Home Tech
A few years ago, when smart home tech was in its embryonic stage and the term ‘smart home’ a mere buzz word, controlling smart devices was just a touch, swipe or click away. But the advent of voice recognition technology made it possible to pretty much control every house in the device with simple voice commands.
Think about it.
Maybe you forgot to switch off the heating as you were in a rush to head out to get out of the house in the morning? Or perhaps you just want to see a particular space in the house lit up with a dazzling array of colors resembling a disco style strobe lighting whenever you shout “disco lights on” to fulfill your desires of being a DJ at your very own house party.
It’s all possible in a smart home and the best part is that it doesn’t take much more than a few simple voice commands to get these devices to do something.
The rise of voice recognition technology also means that you can now set up virtual assistants like Amazon Echo, Google Home and the like and verbally ask them to check if the laundry is done or whether the dishes are clean.
There’s no doubt that voice controlled devices are and will always be the vital cogs of the smart home engine.
Successful Smart Home Automation Products
Many tech companies are working on helping you make your homes work more smartly and efficiently to fit in with your routine chores. And that’s a good sign of things to come.
Whether it’s just to automate mundane household chores or something completely fancy, there is a lot of smart home tech products out there. Here are some popular picks.
Smart Speakers: Google Home, Amazon Echo, and the Like
Google Home is a delightful voice controlled speaker that lets you do more things when connected with other devices and services from Google.
Here are some things you can do with the Google Home: integrate it with Chromecast for streaming stuff, search for videos on YouTube and have them play on your TV set, play podcasts on voice commands without having to flip out your phone and connect it to the speaker- all without moving a muscle.
Another product in the mix is the popular Amazon Echo. Just like its Google counterpart, The Echo lets you take control of things with simple voice commands. Featuring its own virtual assistant Alexa, The Echo allows you to ask general questions, control smart home tech, play music, order food, hail a cab, and find out the latest news and more.
Recently, Apple, as well, unveiled its very own voice-activated smart speaker Homepod to compete with the Google Home and Amazon Echo.
Smart thermostats, like other smart home gadgets, have soared in popularity in a very short period of time, and with good reason. Not only are they easy to use, but they also make sure your heating needs are well taken care of.
A typical smart thermostat learns the temperatures you like, adjusts to your heating patterns automatically and uses advanced scheduling features to help decrease your heating costs. In addition, by allowing you remote access via a mobile phone app, it lets you turn on or off your heating at the touch of a button- which comes in handy especially when you’re out at work and suddenly realise that you forgot to turn off the heating.
Nest and Ecobee are some of the leading smart thermostats in the market today. They are simple to use, do what they’re designed to do, and are great alternatives for a traditional thermostat.
Smart switches, plugs and outlets also make up a good segment of the smart home tech market.
From outdoor smart plugs that set up flood lights for the pool to in wall switches, there is a lot of smart stuff to pick. And the best part is that some switches are well worth the money if you are quite serious about connected lighting and other applications.
Belkin’s Wemo Smart Switch adds power tracking to your smart home arsenal and works excellently with smart speakers like The Amazon Echo and Google Home.
Rounding up the list of small home tech devices in this segment are smart plugs fitted with advanced Bluetooth technology that detects presence and helps automate lighting based on where you are in your home.
Future Trends of Smart Home
Whilst Internet of Things (IoT) devices such as smart washing machines that can be started remotely are already on sale, the future smart homes will have a gaggle of devices communicating with each other, placing better control and efficiency in our hands.
And that simply means there will be an uptick in average number of connected devices in our homes.
That’s pretty surprising seeing that smart home automation was merely a pipe dream a few years ago.
Back then, no one had any idea that smart home had any value at all. Despite the great development that was happening on the technology front, the market was quite skeptical about the concept as a whole and more so about the cost. Smart home automation was looked at as being gimmicky and consumers didn’t want to buy in. In fact, some proposed that smart home can never be a viable solution that could change lives as advertised.
Such technologies do not generally come cheap, and the smart home tech makers failed to justify the extra money that consumers had to pay to add smarts to their homes. Nor did they have a compelling value proposition.
Luckily, along the way, there have been some magnificent experiments and pilot projects, demonstrating the viability of this concept.
And that has given the smart home market –both consumers and manufacturers- a sense of renewed confidence. In fact, it has opened the floodgates to what seems to be a disruptive market that is growing by the day.
More and more products and services are launched. It may not be a good indication of where the market is going but what stands out is that most of these products are not just cool and fancy but they seem to solve a problem for the consumer- and that’s a great sign.
Companies are doing their best to make smart home tech affordable and useful and a majority of consumers seem to be convinced. It is quite possible that smart home tech gadgets may be commonplace in the near future, if the trend is to continue.
Since this is a disruptive field, we don’t quite know where we’ll end up in a few years from now. But don’t complain if your dishwashers and toaster come enabled with Wi-Fi and a twitter account to go with it. Maybe that’s an exaggeration. Maybe not.
But we’ll wait and see what the future brings.
There you have it. The smart home of the future will not just be safer, but also more convenient and cost effective.
So think about investing into a smart home hub now and get a glimpse of a smart future.
You never know, it might be worth it.