Technology has gone a long way from just asking Siri to play Spotify on your phone. The smart system of the 21st century is about making you take charge of your home’s functionality – all in a single interface.
From door locks to switching off the lights, smart devices can even help you grill that meat the next time you have a barbeque. It’s basically anything you can think of. The speakers, window blinds, heater, clock; the list goes on.
Welcome to the world of automation.
Having the ability to control your home appliances at just a touch of a button. A smart home system is the commanding and scheduling of something to happen. Google Assistant or Alexa should be something you’ve heard of before.
We see an immense growth in the smart home concept thanks to human’s love for convenience and modernization. A strong desire for higher quality of life. It can’t be helped that some of the devices are reasonably priced too.
While the idea of a smart home sounds cool, sophisticated and aesthetically pleasing (it really does, in action movies), in reality, getting all the devices to work might be hard to keep up with.
The smart home infrastructure is easier to put in place when constructing a newly built home. However, it does not mean that the implementation can’t be done in your current one. There are many reputable smart home companies which offer installation for your smart home upgrade.
Image Source | AMAZON
To have a smart home system going, there must be a smart home hub in the heart of it all. The one that controls all your smart home devices. Wifis, Bluetooth, ZigBee or Z-Wave are the wireless hub of a smart home. Within its radius, this control unit automates your smart devices around your home. You can command specific instructions and its timings, usually through your smartphones or tablets (some through voice activations too).
In fact, many smart home systems run on wifis and bluetooth, and they still work as good. Simply saying, you need good, uninterrupted internet connection. Otherwise, it won’t work as well as it should.
BENEFITS OF A SMART HOME SYSTEM
Convenience is a given. Controlling your smart devices to your commands. A gem for those who are extremely forgetful. You don’t have to go the entire day worrying you didn’t switch off the air conditioner.
An efficient smart home system, when installed well, can help the homeowner to effectively have better energy efficiency and security.
To give you an example: A smart home thermostat.
A regular thermostat allows you to set the timer. But can it switch the heating off automatically after sensing that no one is at home?
No, but a smart home thermostat can.
They are able to receive the information and act upon your instructions. The ability to regulate the temperature accordingly – like when they sense someone opening a window.
About security, homeowners can be instantly notified of any movements on their property. It works for both outdoor and indoor security cameras. Just activate it and be alerted on your phone. It really does allow you to have a better peace of mind.
THE UGLY SIDE OF A SMART HOME
Smart lock, smart cameras, smart systems.. But are they entirely safe?
Do not be surprised that some people do get hacked. The sad reality is, the smarter your home, the more enticing it is for potential hackers. They look for loopholes: weak passwords, overlooked privacy settings and uninstalled updates are just some of the few things to be worried about.
It’s a question of privacy breach and a threat to one’s security as well. It’s definitely not a good scenario to have, if it potentially poses a huge danger to your family if your smart system gets hacked into. A single smart device that is infiltrated can lead to having your lights switched off and home unlocked – defenceless and free to be robbed.
Secondly, before you can even have the entire home to be more energy-efficient or more secure, you’ll first have to replace your current appliances and/or devices to smart ones which are compatible with your smart home hub. (That’s the whole point, right?)
Collectively, it will cost you quite a bit of money. We are talking about getting in good quality technology that will work in the long run. We still have to consider future maintenance and tech support costs that comes along with your newly, sleek smart home.
THINGS TO CONSIDER
With all that said and done, everyone knows that the smart home trend is here to stay anyway (I know I’d love to have my entire home to be). If you are still onboard the idea, then this section is for you.
Smart home system implementation would work more smoothly if you purchase a smart home hub first.
Since the hub is bought first, the chances of you getting a device that is not compatible with your hub will be lower. You will most likely search for devices that are compatible with the said hub you chose. Smart devices that cannot be detected will be useless – it just won’t work no matter how new it is.
You will most likely be controlling your hub through your smart phones via the mobile app. Most hubs are compatible with iOS and Android smartphones. Windows phone users.. not quite. So again, do check the requirements and compatibility.
What must the smart home hub be connected to in order to function?
An ongoing smart home system needs an uninterrupted supply of power to plug into. And they need to be connected to your wireless router, via an ethernet cable. There are some that would only require a wifi connection to work, which makes it very convenient.
The hub’s placement in your home matters too. It must be strategically located to reach all your smart home devices. We call it the sensory range. Always check if your devices are detected and are connected. This is to ensure smooth functioning of your smart home.
AMAZON ECHO STUDIO
There are many smart home hubs and I’m sure there will be more to come in the near future. A fine example of an all-in-one smart home hub is the Amazon Echo Studio. Besides having the ability to connect to your smartphone, this beauty comes with a built-in Amazon Alexa to manage all your smart home devices with voice commands.
“Alexa, what’s on my calendar?”
Yes. A personal assistant that keeps your events and reminders in check. Go ahead, ask Alexa anything. Like maybe.. Your favourite restaurant’s opening hours.
Alexa can discover the other Alexa-compatible home devices and will start setting them up so you can have control over them. From simple ones like the lights to serious business like smoke alarm detecting. One will be able to control the devices from his smartphone or with his voice.
Music fans, the Echo Studio is an incredible piece of technology that enhances your home audio experience, making sure you get wrapped in studio-quality audio in the room it’s placed in.
Above all, this Alexa-Echo pairing is built with layers and layers of privacy controls to ensure that the owner’s private data is kept secure.
Voice assistance, ease of set up and with plenty of smart devices that are compatible with Alexa, I think the Echo Studio is a good start to having your smart home system going!
*Do take note that the Echo Studio is currently unavailable.
We crave for the novelty of technology, often sold by the beauty of convenience that it brings to our world. Smart home devices are appreciated and they do make a good housewarming or holiday gift for your loved ones.
The smart home system would work for us great, if we choose the right technologies, devices and support.
Having a smart home system will train a homeowner to be constantly vigilant and updated – which is perfectly understandable, given the possible privacy and data protection issues.
We’ve got plenty of good, reputable brands, like Google, Samsung, Apple, Amazon, etc. Educating ourselves of the specific smart hub and devices’ reviews and integrations will be beneficial for ourselves. Basic technology knowledge does make a huge difference in having your data and privacy protected.
What are your thoughts of a smart home? Would you welcome the thought of implementing it to your current home? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!
*Last edited: 22nd December 2020.
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