When you’re out of the house, particularly when you’ve just left to go on holiday somewhere, it’s not uncommon to have all kinds of niggling worries. Did you turn all the TV off? The coffee maker? The gas? Did you turn the burglar alarm on and lock the front door? If you’re reading this on a smartphone, then you may suddenly want to rush home! This is one issue that we won’t have to deal with for much longer though. With a “smart home”, you’ll be able to dispel all these worries by simply glancing at your mobile device. If you’re interested in the concept of the smart home, here’s a brief guide explaining how it all works.
Although we’re only just starting to hear about home automation and smart homes in mainstream media, this technological niche has a fairly long history. A lot of people consider the genesis of the smart home to have happened in 1975, when a Scottish company developed X10. This standard allowed certain compatible electrical products to communicate with one another through the existing wires of a home. Various devices and appliances could act as receivers. The means for controlling the system, such as keypads and remotes, were the transmitters. Let’s say you wanted to turn a lamp on or off from another room, the transmitter would have to issue a signal with an identifying number for the device that was to receive the command. Although this was a big leap forward, it was incredibly expensive at the time and had all kinds of technical errors.
What A Smart Home Means for You
These early pioneering companies only laid the founding protocols of smart homes. Today, the term means something quite different! The firms which are at the forefront of smart home technology have since set up partnerships and deals with various electronics manufacturers who build the devices themselves. There are now many different functions of a smart home which some people have been enjoying. Cameras are able to monitor your home’s exterior, and send an alert to your phone if anyone’s walking around after a certain time. Smart thermostats can be changed and programmed from anywhere where your smartphone has signal. Modern smart ceiling fans can also be controlled and scheduled from an app. One particularly fun feature is LED lights which you can change the colour and brightness of from your smartphone. Motion sensors are now being released that will alert you when there’s motion in a specific area of your house. It can even tell the difference between pets and people, so you won’t run the risk of traumatising your cat by having them trip an alarm every few minutes! These are just a few of the more widely produced items that make up the modern smart home. However, there’s more being developed and released all the time, and taking the whole niche to exciting new places. Soon, we’ll be seeing chairs that can dim or brighten lights depending on how you’re sitting, bins that monitor what you’re throwing away and make orders based on it, and refrigerators that will send you recipes based on the food inside. The possibilities are already pretty staggering when we look at modern smart homes, and this certainly isn’t about to change!
What Are the Benefits?
Naturally, you might be hearing about what all these devices and capabilities can do, and taking the smart home as just another technological gimmick amongst all the others that are coming out these days. Still, you shouldn’t wave it away without considering the various benefits that come with having a smart home. When all your electronics and appliances are connected and synched up, it can make your domestic life so much easier and more convenient. Instead of having to get up from that recliner you love so much to fiddle with the heating, you’ll simply have to reach out for your smartphone and tap a few buttons. Similarly, you’d be able to dim or brighten an overhead light if you wanted to read for a while. Smart home technology can also be a massive help in the case of emergencies. For example, you’d not only get a notification if the fire alarm was triggered, you’d also be able to unlock your doors and light the way for the fire department remotely. You’ll also receive alerts when there’s an intruder in the house, and be able to manipulate locks to hinder a burglar’s escape.
And What About the Drawbacks?
Of course, like any new technological niche, there are various issues and drawbacks which are yet to be ironed out. For now, the biggest one that needs to be addressed is that getting used to a smart home would be an absolute nightmare for people who aren’t that good with computers to begin with. There’s a huge amount of potential for smart home technology to help elderly people who have trouble moving from place to place around the house. The issue here is that a lot of people in this demographic are inept when it comes to using any kind of computers, let alone controlling the whole home using a smartphone interface! The big difficulty when setting up a smart home is balancing out the complexity of it with the usability. If the system is more confusing than it is practical, then it’s going to make the user’s life more difficult instead of easier! When setting up a smart home for someone who’s not tech-savvy, it’s essential to consider how complex the components in the system are going to be, how intuitive it will be to an inexperienced user, and if the system will really fulfil a need, rather than be just a flashy gimmick. While smart homes can certainly be usable to the technologically inept, it takes careful planning and application.
As smart home technology becomes a bigger and bigger talking point, we’re going to see it becoming more a part of day-to-day life. If you’re still on the fence, I hope this guide shed a little more light on the subject!