So, you’ve heard about the smart home and wondered is it for me or is it just a fad? Do I really need to yell at my lightbulbs? Will automating my toaster make life better? We’re here to answer those burning questions and help you figure out whether home automation is a good fit for your household.
Before we dive in, we should point out that while it may seem very futuristic, smart home tech is here now and will soon be standard in most every electrical household item you buy. Connecting appliances, thermostats, kettles, TVs, and lighting to each other and the internet provides an extra layer of convenience to you today, but tomorrow this Internet of Things will allow our homes to learn our patterns and respond to our needs without us lifting a finger.
The key will be the data each device collects, which a controller in our home can analyse and respond to, that will transform an automated home from a mere collection of remote-controlled gadgets and gizmos into a truly “smart” home. One that makes your everyday life easier, helps reduce your home’s use of precious resources such as energy and water, and connects it with the larger Internet of Things to enable truly exciting advancements for our world.
What is a smart home?
A smart home is one outfitted with wirelessly connected gadgets that can do things for you that make you think “Oh gosh, well isn’t that smart?” From simple actions like lights turning on when you enter a room to more impressive ones such as your house shutting itself down at night – locking the doors, closing the curtains, turning down the thermostat, and switching off all the lights.
Largely, this is still all home automation, where you need to tell the home to do these things through a pre-set trigger, there’s not a lot of advanced artificial intelligence in play – although it’s coming. The ‘smart’ in smart home actually stands for Self-Monitoring Analysis and Reporting Technology, which means a smart home is a step beyond simple automation.
Each connected device can monitor itself and report back to a central hub or control platform, which can then act appropriately. Think of it like a basic alarm system – when a door sensor is triggered it tells the alarm to make a noise – only it can do so much more.
There are several home automation platforms you can use to make your home smart, and each one uses programming – known variously as Routines, Automations, and Scenes – to help link your devices together into a smart home.
These programs can be triggered by a number of things: a voice command – “Turn on the lights”; your location – unlock the door, turn on the lights, open the garage door, and adjust the thermostat when I drive into the driveway; and time of day – turn down the heat, close the curtains, dim the lights, and lock the door at 7pm every evening.
What can I automate in my home?
The easiest and most impactful place to start automating your home is with smart lighting. Lighting you control with your voice, on a schedule, or based on a door opening or closing is convenient, can save energy, and looks really cool. Smart lighting also brings tons of features to your home’s lighting scheme, without having to hire an electrician.