SMARTER HOME, EASIER LIFE
The smart home technology sector has only just revealed the tip of the iceberg with innovative products such as smart doorbell cameras, smart light controls, smart locks, smart thermostats, smart televisions & smart hubs which connect all the devices together.
Hidden beneath the waves, we see fervent development of many more exciting tools including smart fridges, smart cars, smart beds and so much more.
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8 Reasons Why Smart Homes are our Future
(and 2 reasons why we should be worried)
Smart home devices allow us to achieve things that even ten years ago were inconceivable. We can now speak to a delivery person via a doorbell camera, unlock the door with a smart door lock to receive the package, sensors and secondary cameras to ensure that the delivery person doesn’t venture further into the house than inside the front door and finally lock up again – all from a smart phone.
Smart light bulbs are probably one of the most well known developments within the smart home sector. They allow complete control over the light from your smart phone, and can be automated for security purposes and to reduce energy consumption within your home. Also they can assist you in not having to get out of bed to turn out the light at night.
- Enhanced Home Security:
According to the FBI, having home security system in place has shown to reduce the likelihood of having your home burgled by as much as 800%. Smart home technology has improved substantially the home security sector to create your own impenetrable safe haven. Currently we have smart door locks, doorbell cameras and sensors to burglar proof your windows, doors and gates. Eventually your home will be able to identify who is in your home and more importantly who shouldn’t be. Check out our Top 10 Home Security Tips & Tricks article.
- Reduce your Impact on the Environment:
Increasing our control over our household via smart home technology means we can optimize certain appliances to consume resources (energy and water).
- Use less electricity and save on electricity costs with Smart Thermostats. The Nest Thermostat optimizes your heating and cooling requirements to reduce costs. It can save you money on your electric utility bill by as much as 40%.
- Reduce your water usage and save money on water bills with the Amphiro Smart Meter which guides you on your water usage and incentivizes you to use less. On average users report a reduction of power usage of 440 kWh and 2,245 gallons of water per year.
- Comfort fit for a Techno King:
With the introduction of Smart Thermostats into the household, we now no longer have to be continuously changing the thermostat. These thermostats monitor your temperature preferences, take into account ambient temperature and adjust their output accordingly to provide the perfect temperature.Smart beds utilize smart fabric and sensors to track your sleeping habits and then adjust the bed according to your sleeping patterns.
- Monitor your Health:
Currently the IoT and healthcare has been restricted to just wearables, including smart watches which track your heart rate, steps and various other health data points. The benefits of monitoring our health via our interactions in the house could be enormous. It could provide doctors with the information necessary to make an accurate diagnosis such as frequency of going to the bathroom, what we are eating and how much physical activity we are obtaining. Additionally a lot of the focus on smart home technology and healthcare has been focused on the elderly or disable, however there are a bunch of products out there that are incredibly useful for the average consumer. Smart refrigerators: Currently an underdeveloped sector but with upcoming products said to be able to monitor nutrition information and amount of food eaten (tracking users when they open the fridge and how much food is consumed during each opening of the fridge door). What’s coming soon?
Smart Socks: Socks that include sensors that monitor your blood circulation and alert users when they should rest their feet. This would be incredibly useful for the 50,000 Americans with diabetes that have to undergo foot or leg amputations each year.Smart Bandages: Bandages that can identify early signs of infections and even identify the bacterium and suggest the antibiotic to best combat the infection.
- Big Tech are Invested:
If there is ever and indicator of the next big industry, you only need to look at what the big tech innovators are investing in. All the big innovators have now all go their own smart home automation hub including Apple’s Home Kit, Samsung’s Smartthings, Amazon’s Echo and more recently announced Google Home. The fact that Amazon and Google have gone so big into hardware after dominating in the online space for so long is an indicator of big things to come.
- Eliminate Household chores:
Human beings have been inventing ways to avoid household chores since we evolved to have cognitive thought. Throughout history, some of the largest discoveries have been driven by our in built desire to not have to pick up that pizza toppings that fell off the table last week. Development of tools led to the creation of the washboard, gears led to the rotary washing machine, and electronics led to pushing a button so they we no longer need to spin the crank.The Internet of Things (IoT) is the next big advancement that will once again revolutionize household chores allowing us to enhance our laziness to the next level.
- Automated vacuum cleaners which navigate your house and recharge automatically when low on battery
- Smart Fridges which order more groceries when you are getting low
- Smart Gardens which allow to monitor your plants to ensure optimal growing conditions.
- Smart Cookers can eliminate up to 70% of cooking time and energy consumed.
- Enable our most vulnerabe:
Monitoring newborn babies is not necessarily a new field in terms of home technology. Baby cameras and monitors have been used extensively for the last twenty years. However the sector is about to see huge growth. Even Mark Zuckerberg is getting involved, announcing that he is developing independently and AI system to help him check in on his new baby.Smart devices have been created or can be adapted to suit the specific needs of the disabled. Doorbells for deaf people allow people who are hard of hearing or have no hearing to answer the door either through using a different frequency for the sound, or connecting directly with a doorbell camera which will vibrate their smart phone and allow them to communicate via video. People with vision impairments can make use of smart colored lighting systems which can enhance their ability to identify objects in the home.Severely injured veterans have benefited in many different ways from the advent of smart home technology. Some of the devices used in smart homes for veterans include Smart Thermostats which help regulate the body temperature for veterans with amputations. Smart Home security provide the capacity to check on their property with security cameras and sensors in addition to the ability to answer and unlock the front door with doorbell cameras and smart door locks, all from a smart phone application.
Why should we be worried?
- Privacy & Security:
Smart home privacy and securityis understandably the most sensitive issue surrounding the smart home technology revolution.Every time you use your smart home device a small amount of data is collected and used to control your device. If you are using your smart door lock this information could include what time you open and close your front door. If you use your speaker smart home hub (such as Amazon Echo), it could include recording and identifying your voice. What happens to this data and how it is used is at the forefront of the debate on what holds back people from going big into the smart home technology revolution. Fortunately many of the companies producing these devices have put into place strict privacy guidelines. These companies’ reputations are for majority based on their ability to keep information private for their users and any lapse in this process could destroy their businesses.
To avoid being hacked take into account the following advice:
- Beware of Third Party Applications: There are a bunch of third party applications which offer additional information and control for your smart home applications that you wouldn’t think twice about downloading, for example an application which monitors the battery charge of all your devices. These applications can gain access to a lot of important information as well.
- Install Network Firewall: To take into account that the security protocols for some smart home devices are still not adequate – we recommend installing a home network firewall. This will protect and encrypt all your incoming and outgoing data so that no one will be able to use that data unless they have received permission by the home owner.
A big issue for consumers is that once you purchase your first smart home device, it can restrict you on what other devices you wish to purchase due to compatibility issues. Different smart home device manufactures have chosen different protocols (wifi, bluetooth low energy, z-wave, zigbee and thread) to communicate to each other and transfer data to your internet. These different protocols all have their strengths and weaknesses (the most important being the data transfer rates, power consumption and range) have a lot of difficulty talking to each other. Some smart home automation hubs (such as our favorite Samsung Smartthings) do a good job of incorporating these different protocols, however for the majority of the devices out there they only utilize one protocol. For those starting to build out your smart home, you should consider choosing one protocol; we recommend Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) as the protocol most likely to win the race.
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Best in Class
The “Sage Stamp” of approval represents that the smart home device has undergone a deep review of the product, analyzing performance, design, usability & features.
Best Value for money
Additionally it indicates that this product presents that the smart home device offers a fair price in comparison to the market.