First steps for turning your home into a smart home
The concept of smart home in the truest sense is still a few years away, but as more devices become connected we're already able to enjoy some of its advantages. Here is a small guide on how to help your house move with the times and make it "smarter."
What is a Smart Home?
Basically it's a house with integrated automation systems that offers us different possibilities thanks to the internet. By turning your home into a smart one, you are able to control appliances, lighting, temperature, multimedia systems, security, windows and doors, among a whole range of other functions.
Can my home be smart too?
Of course! Any home can become a smart home. You simply need a WiFi connection that's powerful enough to reach all the devices you have in your house.
We've known one another for a while now, haven't we? As a show of thanks for all the time you've been spending on AndroidPIT, I think it's about time I invited you over to my (hypothetical) smart house, so together we can discover the devices that make it smart.
As I knew you were coming over, I decided to buy a few beers, some sodas and something to snack on, so I am arriving home with my arms full of groceries. Good thing I don't have to struggle to find the house keys; all I need to do is put my finger on the lock to open the front door.
There are a few different options that are available which will allow you to open your doors with your finger or with a smartphone using a particular app. One of the better known options around is Kevo, although it is also worth mentioning Tesa, as they have developed a similar system. Now, if you are looking for a more cost effective option, you may be interested in looking at Sesame by Candy House.
Well, now that I managed to get through the front door, I need to pack everything away in the kitchen. By the way, thanks to my intelligent refrigerator, I knew I only had two beers left before I went to the store. It also reminded me that I was running out of milk and that the yogurt I bought last week was about to expire. Yes, all this is possible with next-generation refrigerators. In the race to develop these technologies Samsung (Family Hub) is clearly in the lead, with LG coming up close behind. Its latest refrigerators include touch screens and cameras inside to scan your food, recording both the quantity and its expiration date.
How about some music? This is one smart device that I really like. Smart loudspeakers allow us to have access to any music content from any corner of our home. With these multi-room systems, such as Teufel, we can listen to music from different platforms such as TuneIn or Spotify.
When I want to turn on my stereo, all I need to do is ask Alexa, Amazon's virtual assistant. Alternatively, I could also use Google Home. Virtual assistants are like a control center for your house: all of your devices can be accessed from one place and can be easily controlled with just your voice.
What? You're here already! My house isn’t exactly a mansion, but instead of walking to the front door, I think I’ll just let my phone do the hard work for me and let you in. All I need is a system like Ring, which lets me see who’s at the door, allows me to talk to them and then decide whether I want to open the door.
Welcome to my living room! To give it a bit more ambiance, I think I’ll change the lighting to a warmer color. I also left the kitchen lights on, so I’ll just turn those off while I’m at it. I can do all of this through my smartphone, thanks to the Philips Hue smart lights.
What do you guys think about finishing up the evening with a movie or a bit of a series binge on Netflix? Obviously, it wouldn’t be a Smart Home without a smart TV. Smart TVs have an operating system and internet connection, so we can control them through apps and enjoy features like YouTube or Netflix.
I’m sorry, but we need to wrap up this little get-together. Before you go, I'll show you one last device: my smart vacuum cleaner. An example is the iRobot Roomba 650, one of the first marketed models of robot vacuum cleaners. There are tons of options out there to choose from, from those that all you need to do is turn them on and they’ll do everything to ones that have an internet connection which allow you to manually drive it around.
Once again, thanks for coming over guys. How about next time we go to your house, okay? Now it’s time to hit the hay, that way I can face the tomorrow head on. On my nightstand, I've got the Hello Sense with Voice, which monitors and analyzes my sleep patterns. It does this through two different devices: a sphere with humidity, temperature, pressure, light sensors which measure air quality and another sensor, which is placed under the pillow to detect movement. This way, I can get a full record on the quality of my sleep.
The truth is, there are so many different options out there that we couldn’t fit them all into this one article. That said, I’d like to tell you about two more devices, which I believe, are very useful. On the one hand, we have the thermostat from Nest. It helps us control heating and cooling, making sure our house is always the perfect temperature - even before we get there. I think thermostats are necessary because, thanks to them, we can save not only energy but also money. On the other hand, there are devices which can detect water leaks and warn us in time to avoid a massive disaster. Honeywell has an excellent model.
Alright, now it’s your turn: Do you use any of these devices? Are there any that catch your eye and you’d like us to do a review on them? Take part in our survey or leave your comments below.
What I find concerning is the push for "smart speakers". I have no problem with having a fully connected media system, but these speakers are very expensive and as far as I can see are far inferior than legacy speakers and amplifiers. I certainly don't need to have a "always on microphone" in order to have the weather read out in the morning. All of these functions are available on my very expensive "smartphone & Tablet" -
This is what really annoys me about "tech" - were told that these devices will revolutionise our lives, but fail to mention is that they will deliver this revolution in a drip drip way, slowly introducing new features until v10 is near to the marketing. By then they will have a new revolutionary device but always dripping.
We know this is done not to benefit us in any way, but to extract as much money as possible from us - the capitalist dream, all the while each dripped version is binned, clogging up our sea's with plastic waste, digging vast opencast mines for precious metals...
link of Virtual Assistant is broken. all nice devices :)
Would love to change my home to a smart home.
Oh my good, you can control that much things with Smart Home, maybe you will forget how to act without it. Thats crazy. And if there is no electricity and/or no wifi, your home would be totally unsecure and unconfortable? Not my way. And, could you be sure not to get some visits via internet form hackers, CIA-Agents and so on....? But as far as I can decide for myself, I will decide not to use this kind of tech :)
Not sure Karl but I guess it's like most Home Automation items, it will have back-up battery power if the electricity goes out.
If you are scared of hackers just air-gap your smart home and other connected devices.
happily sat on my (proverbial) garden fence..
while trying to figure the current worth and benefits of a smarthome, and i realise I'm happy with my home as it is..
and when i read the news on my smartphone i realise I'm happy just having a home.
In my mind the biggest issue with either Bluetooth or WiFi connectivity is that it's still hackable. As an example look at garage door openers with a remote, which is configured via dip switches. There are tools that can check the frequencies and the various switch positions and open the garage. Similar with car alarms. Which is why I'm not thinking about putting a smart lock on my front door. Sure they can break in with a regular lock but why make it easy.
yes, i really can't ignore or accept the current issues of connectivity with regards to privacy and security.
a hackable door lock doesn't seem that smart too me..
Smart homes don't need to be connected just via Bluetooth and WiFi, they can also be connected with z-wave and other wireless system which are much more difficult to gain access to by an ordinary person, and if you really dislike wireless technology then try wired system i.e Ethernet cable which needs physical access to the hardware to gain access to.
I personally prefer to keep my house dumb as possible. I do not like to have everything connected with blue tooth or the web. To many ways around it, and giving up to much privacy. I do use IP security cameras but that's as at as I want to go.
Hey if your concerned about privacy then don't be, there a lot of companies that provide you with option of air gaping your smart home and also there are DIY methods that you can do to make your smart home just communicate with you via local network rather than through the web. It the same principle as IP cam, but IP cams are much more vulnerable than smart homes.
Another thing I would like to add if your wifi signal is not strong enough to cover your whole home you can add repeaters to boost the signal to where it's required
Repeater are great but would suggest using mesh network, which are similar to repeater but remove the issue of handoffs and handshake when u move away from one network area to another.
With Home automation you can go much further opening and closing of blinds/curtains. Arming/disarming of alarm systems, controlling your home theatre system, opening/closing of garage doors and gates. You can connect all of these and cameras onto the net and control everything from your tablet or mobile device thus even if you're overseas you can still look what is going on at home and switch lights on/off open and close blinds/curtains switch your home theatre system on and off which can deter burglaries of your home as well as it will look like someone is home.
I don't think switching your home theater on and off periodically is a particularly effective way to prevent burglaries.
Well it is a deterrent. Most criminals in south africa will check and listen if someone is home before trying to break in. Ask me I will know they checked my place for 15 minutes before jumping over the walls then checkes into my kitchens' windows. Still laugh when I think of the 3 criminals faces when they broke down the door and I stood there armed in front of them. 30 seconds and they were gone have the cctv footage on my pc. I have seen how lights and music have made criminals decide to move on and run away before they can break into someone's property. If they hear music they will just walk past.
You have covered a lot of things but smart home is different and smart home automation is completely another thing, they have common things like smart home automation is the automation of smart home thing. And also smart home automation is a wider topic than just controlling blinds garage doors and alarms.
The first step is to consider your privacy values. ALL the current smart home systems are not run in your home. They all traverse external servers as an intermediary. So your phone doesn't talk to your lock over your wifi. It talks to the lock brand servers and then back to your lock and vice versa.
This is my big complaint about the internet of things and smart homes. Most of the time, it should talk directly across my home network first and only if I am remote should it need to traverse an external server. But no, all these products are fishing expeditions into your home operations and privacy as was shown with that garage door opener snafu. Traversing the external server means you're not really in control and not an owner. You have no privacy or true security.
Agreed. You put a certain amount of trust into the companies that provide smart devices. And then there's the obvious question of if they're selling your info. And the next obvious question is what happens if they go out of business. Are you all of a sudden having to scramble to replace them? That would be particularly bad if it's the lock to your front door. Just my thoughts even though it sounds like a good idea.