“Smart home” and “smart technology” are terms that have been bandied about for a few years, now. We dismissed them at first, but they proved to be not only useful but essential. Certain products or categories may still seem superfluous at this time, but they are quickly becoming indispensable.
Let’s face it – smart home technology has changed our lives in several different ways. It’s made life easier, more convenient, and more efficient. Whether it streamlined some tasks or made our already existing appliances better, smart home technology is here to stay, and thank god it is.
What is a smart home?
We keep hearing everyone talk about “smart” homes – but what are they? Well, a smart home is a home that has smart technology integrated. Now, that means everything from a thermostat that programs itself to speakers that talk back when you yell at them.
When smart home technology was emergent, it seemed like a novelty ripped straight out of a retro Homes of Tomorrow exhibition. However, the time has shown that far from just being a flashy demonstration of what technology can achieve, smart homes can actually be integrated into our lives and improve them significantly.
What are the technologies that make a home “smart”?
Okay, but what, more specifically, makes a home “smart”? Not every type of technology qualifies as smart, so let’s take a look at what kind of technologies one may find in a smart home and how they impact day to day life for the person enjoying these perks.
Smart locks made a real difference because they transformed the traditional, lock-and-key way of securing one’s home. With smart locks, you don’t really need to carry a key anywhere and you never have to worry about losing a key or accidentally leaving the door unlocked.
It can be operated via your phone, even from a distance. So, if you want to let a friend in to water your plants or feed your cat, for example, you can just lock and unlock when needed.
Security systems are one of the categories that really benefitted from the integration of smart technology. Nowadays, your security system will not only sound the alarm when an intruder comes in. It actually senses whenever someone approaches your home and lets you know (sometimes, including live footage).
Some systems will also turn on the lights whenever an intruder breaks in, or even automatically call the police.
Have you ever thought that lightbulbs could be smart? Lights can now be controlled from far away and can be turned on and off using your phone. So, next time you’re unsure whether you’ve left the lights on or not, you can simply check and turn them off, if needed.
In addition, smart bulbs can actually adjust the intensity of the light they give off depending on the time of day. So, you can have the ideal brightness in the room or even your garage at any time.
TV & speakers
Perhaps the most popular of smart technology, TV, and speakers have come a long way in the last few years. Alexa and Echo have become ubiquitous and some people already can’t live without them.
Not to mention smart TVs that you can control by speaking to them. There is no need to ever fight over the remote or tear up the house looking for it ever again. You can simply command the TV to switch to a different channel or turn up the volume.
Smart thermostats are super convenient because they allow you to control the temperature in the house, or even in specific rooms, at any time of day. You can set minimum and maximum temperatures or even set it to change the temperature according to the temperature outside.
That way, if a day is colder or warmer than expected, the thermostat will adjust. You can also control it remotely, via your phone. So, the temperature in your home is within your control 24/7, no matter where you are.
Smart technology is also moving into the appliance sector. All kinds of home appliances have turned “smart”, from washing machines to TVs.
Have you ever been out grocery shopping, only to realize you have no idea what you already have at home and what you’ve run out of? Wouldn’t it be great if you could check remotely? Well, that’s exactly what a smart fridge allows you to do, for example. Isn’t that neat?
Even your lawn can benefit from smart technology. Don’t believe it? Just take a look at the sprinkler systems available for sale nowadays. They adjust the volume of water they dispense, and the frequency and duration of watering cycles based on the temperature outside.
Plus, smart lawnmowers have also become a thing. They’re kind of like Roombas, but with more safety measures built-in, to prevent accidents.
How does smart home technology impact our lives?
We can probably all agree that smart home technology is interesting, at the very least. But what about its impact on our day to day lives? Is it all good news? Or are there some hidden downsides we should be thinking about?
It’s much more convenient
One of the primary advantages of smart home technology is the fact that it makes everything incredibly convenient. Especially with the ability to control these devices remotely, which adds ease and a level of control that was previously lacking in traditional versions.
It increases efficiency
Another draw is the increased efficiency of this type of device. Because everything is so streamlined and carefully programmed, energy consumption is also greatly reduced. There is much less waste because the options on these devices ensure that they are always optimized, including when it comes to consumption. Implementation of such products as solar-powered mart windows and curtains all contribute to making a smart building more energy efficient.
It’s customizable to one’s needs & specifications
A very attractive pro is the degree of customization that smart devices enable. You are no longer tied to the manufacturer settings or options. Almost anything you put in your house can be customized in order to fit your needs and specifications. That’s a big plus in a world that has come to expect a degree of personalization for anything we buy.
Of course, the first thing to point out, here, is the expense that comes with smart technology. It’s true that some of these devices can save you money in the long run. But it’s still a prohibitively expensive upfront cost for the average person to purchase a smart home or integrate several types of smart technology into their house.
It’s reliant on the internet
Another concern is the fact that this kind of technology relies a lot on the internet. That’s not a problem as long as your connection is secure and working perfectly. But what about when your Wi-Fi is acting up, or there’s a storm that cuts off the power or any number of incidents that can occur? Then, your devices are likely to fail.
It’s potentially easier to hack
Some of these devices are actually more secure than their traditional counterparts. But when an online connection and software is involved, there is always a risk of a security breach or hacking. Depending on how your system is set up, all someone would need to do is hack into your Wi-Fi and everything could be compromised.
What’s the bottom line?
Smart homes may seem like a fad, but recent trends show they’re here to stay. There are more and more people opting to integrate smart technology into their homes. Whether we’re talking about smart speakers, smart locks, or smart lawn care, homeowners enjoy the convenience of smart home technology more and more.
In the following years, we can expect not only for the number of smart homes to increase but also for the technology to get even better and expand into other areas of the home where it’s not as common yet.