Smart home tech has become more accessible in recent years. It connects to our smartphone, speaks our language, and features in an increasing number of devices. You may well have already bought one of these products without even thinking about it.
It would be incorrect to think of the term “smart home” as meaning fridges that do the food shopping by themselves or fully automated homes – nor does a smart home mean having ridiculous gadgets or robots right out of a sci-fi novel. Typically, what is meant are simply devices, appliances, or accessories that replace similar items with connected or automated versions, such as smart light bulbs, smart thermostats, smart security systems, etc.
So, what is a smart home?
Connecting different devices together via a network brings a host of advantages. First, control and convenience. You can control everything in real time either using a smartphone app or via a smart speaker which you control with your voice. Second, connected devices provide information that improve safety and efficiency. This includes information such as when and who entered your home or how much energy is being consumed by a particular device. The third point is automation. If you don’t want to spend all your time controlling devices in your home manually, you can go one step further and set up rules and routines. You can use these to perform specific actions depending on whether you’re entering/leaving your home or if sensors are triggered. The idea is that your home gets to know you and your family/friends and perform its functions automatically without you needing to interact with it through what is also referred to as the Internet of Things (IoT). Here’s a list of the most popular products:
Heating that thinks so you don’t have to
Among their many skills, smart thermostats promise to think for you and help you achieve big cuts on your heating bills – sometimes equating to hundreds of dollars each year depending on how much space you’ve got to heat. Features include the ability to detect when the last person in your home leaves and dial down the temperature automatically. But this doesn’t mean you’ll return home to the cold – if you unexpectedly find yourself finishing work early, you can adjust the heating remotely using a smartphone app. You can even set up heating schedules, which can make your bathroom nice and cozy in the morning without needing to have the heating running all night.
More than just a lightbulb moment
Smart lighting is also highly popular as you can not only switch lights on or off and dim them right from the comfort of your sofa, but also change their color. With their ability to light up in millions of different colors, LEDs let you create completely new lighting environments in your home. All it takes is a tap and you can change the entire mood in the room – from a cool white for working to a warm white for relaxing.
Smart door locks
What’s there to enjoy about being confronted with a standard door lock: Search for key, insert key, turn key, and once inside perhaps even insert the key again to lock yourself in. How tedious. Smart door locks simplify everything as they can be unlocked easily using an app (or remote control). It’s also easy to set up new “keys” on smartphones or transponders – so no more wasting time getting a new key cut and no more stressing about a lost key. This makes them fantastic especially for families with young kids. For control freaks, with the associated app’s ability to record entry information down to the minute, entry logs are a handy way for them to check when someone entered their home.
The opportunities are limitless
The technology is also finding its way into an increasing number of areas, including mundane things like smoke detectors – if an alarm goes off, you get a notification on your smartphone. This is of huge benefit to caregivers, neighbors, or family members who are looking after others, especially those with disabilities or the elderly, as they are informed quickly if an alarm triggers, enabling them to check in with the person to see if everything’s ok. Actions can also be performed such as to raise the shutters and switch on the lighting to make it easier to escape from the building.
No matter which route you take to the smart home, it’s worth it. What’s more, the topic is really taking off now with an ever-increasing range of practical solutions on offer. There’s more about that in part two.