If you’ve been reading any domestic and tech blogs or journals lately, then you’ve probably seen the term “smart home” crop up more than a few times. Like many other people, you might be wondering “just what is a smart home?” While there’s no official definition yet, “smart home” tech refers to a new family of technology which can be used to connect almost anything in the home, making it one big, convenient machine. Here’s a brief introduction to this exciting technological niche.
The emerging smart home revolution is all about better connectivity. Though we never called more primitive cell phone models “dumbphones”, the dawn of the “smartphone” was a massive leap forward in terms of connectivity. We’d gone years with mobile phones being exclusively for calls and texts. Smartphones allowed us to connect to the internet, send IMs and emails, download media, and do all kinds of other things. It’s the same kind of concept with smart homes. The thing that sets a smart home apart from a regular home is all the electronics and appliances in the home being controlled from a single interface – usually a tablet or smartphone. Lights, locks, and kitchen appliances can all be a part of the same home automation system. Even simpler things like powerline network adaptors are becoming part of the mix, as explored on The Smart Future.
What it Means to You
If you’re not a particularly techy person, then you may be wondering what exactly all this connectivity can offer you. There’s one simple answer for this: convenience. Of course, you already have ways for preheating the oven, adjusting your heating, and lending a key to a neighbor. However, with smart home technology, you’ll be able to do this with far less effort. One great example is being able to set schedules for appliances. If you have a strict morning routine, you could schedule your coffee machine so that you have a fresh pot waiting for you as soon as you come downstairs. Or, if you have certain days where you need to get everyone fed and then rush your kid to a class or club, you can schedule your oven so that it’s preheated or even cooking by the time you come through the door. These are just a couple of examples of all the convenience a smart home can offer you.
While some people have already taken to smart home tech like ducks to water, it’s better to go slow, and take baby steps to determine if this kind of tech is really for you. There are many devices and applications out there that cost a small fortune, such as smart toilets that cost over $2,000. However, there are many cheaper, simpler devices which allow you to test the water. You can get a Phillips Hue bundle for under $200 on Amazon, or a WeMo starter pack for around $60. Some people who have experience with programming and electronic tinkering are even making their own smart devices, saving massive amounts of money!