Life never stands still. Organisms evolve in order to better cope with environmental pressures. The change may be so slow it cannot be observed by the naked eye – we simply don’t have the lifespans to appreciate that change is among the only constants when it comes to living things. However, when it comes to smart home solutions and devices we can observe change – it is happening extremely quickly as smart and connected technology evolves before our very eyes.
However, many people have heard of the smart home concept, or seen smart appliances in retail stores, but have not grasped the advantages of smarter homes – and what technologies are about to revolutionize how we live.
Let’s first take a look at defining the smart home – and its advantages.
Defining a smart home is deceptively easy, most definitions read something like ‘a smart home is one equipped with lighting, heating, security and entertainment systems and other electronic devices that can be controlled remotely by a smartphone, connected device or computer.’ But, this definition doesn’t explain just how the smart home benefits those who live in one.
Firstly, living in a smart home means enjoying lower energy bills. You can control the levels of lighting and heating via your smartphone (or switch them to standby if you are away). Remote access and settings allow for various functions and devices to be adjusted no matter where you are. This can include windows being opened or closed, lighting levels, aircon and thermostat settings, and much more. Alternatively, advanced smart algorithms could do it for you, based on the data gathered on foot traffic patterns in the home and the daily habits of residents (or even based on your activities as entered into a daily planning software program).
Then there is the safety of your family and pets – or elderly relatives. A combination of motion detectors, advanced day/night cameras, and smart locks make your loved ones safer and your home more secure. All these devices are interconnected and communicate with each other (integration is a trend that cannot be ignored) and with you via your smart device to provide information on the status of both the home – and those who live in it. However, once again, these systems can collect vast amounts of data. And that data can be analyzed so that the smart home will (in the future) make autonymous decisions about what action to take should analysis indicate that something is amiss.
These are just two examples. There are also those smart devices such as refrigerators that will inform you when you are running low on a particular product based on usage data. How long before your refrigerator will plan your diet and purchase habits based on the health status of those in the home?
An aspect of the smart home that is evolving extremely quickly is the complexity of artificial intelligence systems – and the way in which those in the home interact with them. Those who own one of the many smart assistants such as Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, or Siri will be aware of how useful (and advanced) these systems can be in controlling devices and systems (lighting for instance) and supplying information. They are continually improving in terms of voice recognition and being able to make decisions and recommendations based on the vast amounts of personal data they gather. It seems inevitable that these devices will sooner rather than later be able to converse in a manner, and take actions that will make them indistinguishable from human beings.
If simplifying your life is important – and you want to save that most precious of resources – time, then carefully consider what a difference a smart home can make to your lifestyle.