“Alexa, write this blog for me.” Okay, Amazon’s voice service Alexa isn’t that clever (yet) but there is a world of potential just waiting to be unlocked. The Amazon Echo is just one of many devices that we may find in what we know as the ‘Smart Home’ today. I’ll be looking at what a ‘Smart Home’ is and the wonderful opportunities available to you. I’ll also explore the drawbacks of a ‘Smart Home’ and what the future holds for this trend.
The term Smart Home refers to the ability to control elements within your home remotely through your smartphone, iPad etc. There has been an explosion in this market and no longer are smart home products just for the high end consumers.
I have the Amazon Echo Dot and am eagerly awaiting the installation of my Nest Learning Thermometer, which will allow me to control the heating in my house from anywhere. There are so many other products available in this market such as, lighting from Philips Hue, Ikea are also introducing their own range. You can control your entertainment system, security camera’s, security systems, robot vacuum’s, fridges, cookers, door locks that open as you approach and pretty much anything else you can think of. These products are usually controllable through a hub and app and most can be linked to the Amazon Echo Dot to ask Alexa to perform tasks like “turn on the heating” or “dim the lights”.
Smart Home Advantages
The advantages of a smart home are obvious. Who wouldn’t want the convenience and control a smart home grants you. Think about it, it’s cold and you’ve forgot to set the heating so your house will be freezing when you get in! No problem, just do it from your phone! Or you’ve visitors coming but your floors haven’t been vacuumed! Just get the robot vacuum to do it while you put your feet up to relax.
As well as being relatively easy to use and install you can customize so many elements to suit your preferences. I have some smart plugs that turn lamps on to a set schedule, so even when I’m not there my lamps will come on to deter would be burglars. Other advantages include energy efficiency and cost saving abilities as you can track your energy usage and assess where savings can be made. You can make your home more secure and monitor your property through installed cameras from; yep you’ve guessed it anywhere.
Smart Home Disadvantages
While I love the idea of a smart home I’ve come to the realisation (shock, horror!!) that to some the smart home is ‘stupid’. There are definitely drawbacks that come with a smart home. Figures indicated that early adapters of smart home technology are 25-35 years old, these make up 77% of the market. The rest of the age groups combined make up the rest of the market.
The main concerns around the smart home are security and privacy. While security on one hand is an advantage, on the other hand, there is a possibility your home could be subject to hacking, giving someone access to your personal information, security alarms, cameras, and motion sensors. They could also turn off all lights and have control over pretty much everything in your home.
Other disadvantages based on the adapters of smart home technology are that a certain demographic may find a smart home quite daunting. Installing and using the smart home technology would require a ‘read the manual’ approach in order to operate their home. The smart home market is still evolving and expanding and while it is definitely becoming more affordable, costs can quickly add up if you look to change out your basic products and appliances in favour of smart technology.
The Future for Smart Homes
There are so many possibilities for the smart home market. The IoT (Internet of Things) has made this possible, the IoT is the connecting of any device to the internet and then to each other, a simple example of this would be: Your smart watch senses you’re awake and alerts your coffee maker to have a delicious fresh coffee ready for when you get to the kitchen. Analysts predict by 2020 that there will be over 26 billion connected devices with countless possibilities as a result.
It would seem that Smart Homes are definitely not stupid and are going to become more common as time goes by and technology advances further. Is there a possibility of robotic butlers to do your bidding and home’s that identify you from your heartbeat and adjust lighting, heat etc. to your preferences, you can bet on it!
However, there is work to be done in communicating how and why all demographics will benefit from embracing smart home technology and upgrading their existing products. The security and privacy concerns also remain a stumbling block which some companies are actively working to address at this time. I’m excited at what the future will bring and on the lookout for the technology that wakes me, dresses me, feeds me and gets me out the door in the morning. Is that too much to expect??