Smart Homes Are The Future of Architecture.

Over recent years the number of people taking up Smart Home Technology has increased exponentially. As digital has penetrated all areas of our lives, from TV and radio to phones, cameras, and audio players the more we expect from it. Once upon a time ‘home automation’ used to mean a thermostat on the wall which would conveniently turn the heating on when it got too cold and being able to set the video to record a show if you were out.

Today, with smart home automation, that’s the bare minimum we’d expect from the products we introduce into our homes. If your heating doesn’t know when you’re home or when you’re out, and your TV box doesn’t record entire series’ of your favourite shows when they’re on a number of channels all at the same time it’s like living in the stone age! In fact we’ve grown so accustomed to devices which work autonomously, from vacuum cleaners to doorbells which can recognise who’s coming to the door and let them in or keep them out that there seems to be nothing that Smart Home Technology won’t be able to do in the future, even if it can’t do it today.

In the same way that it’s now impossible to dream of designing a building which doesn’t have power cables, water and gas pipework, it will also soon be inconceivable that a building can be designed without home automation in mind as well. Read more

After Recent Home Network Security Breaches, What Are The Top Tips To Secure Your IoT?

Modern angular lounge in earthy neutral colours. The room is filled with modern technology.Over recent weeks we’ve heard about staff at the head office of a major smart home security and environmental control manufacture sharing video that the home security cameras with colleagues. It’s hard to define this abuse of trust a breach as such, but it does highlight the responsibilities service providers have to look after their clients’ interests when they put themselves in a position of trust.

Concurrently a homeowner in California had her home system hacked. She was told that North Korea had launched a retaliatory missile attack, followed by sounding alarms. Then there was a family in Illinois who had someone talk to their baby, swear at them, and turn the heat up to above 30 degrees. Other households have had people watching them and speaking to them via their security cameras, threats made against their children and loud music played over baby monitors. While being frightening, so far there have been no reported incidents of people taking over a home network and using it to facilitate a crime but it’s a distinct possibility that it could happen if people don’t tighten up the way they secure Smart Home Devices when connecting them to the network. Read more

What Top Ten Factors Influence Adoption, Inclusion & Function Of Smart Home Technology?

It’s easy to fall into one of three camps, firstly to think that everyone is buying up smart devices, and finding new uses for them. They’re creating skills, naming every electronic device in the house and telling their Smart Speaker or Home Hub to turn thing off and on, or up and down, all without moving from the comfort of the sofa. But then it’s also just as easy to write it off as a fad that is only of interest to a select few who are engaged with the technology. A third assumption would be that automated home technology is like the microwave oven, it’s going to take time for the price to come down far enough for the useful, efficient, practical technology to become an everyday feature in every home up and down the country.

Because Smart technology doesn’t seek to ultimately solve a particular problem once and for all, uptake will initially be slow, but incessant. Connected devices may save time, energy and effort, and it may make the living environment more responsive, but because it only does what you can already do yourself it can be seen as a luxury development which is nice, but ultimately unnecessary. Read more

There’s A Chill In The Air, And Thoughts Turn To Smart Thermostats

Woman using a digital heating control panelBaby it’s cold outside, and Smart people are using their Smart thermostats and lights to increase the efficiency of their homes.
Now, of course we’ve always had thermostats and timers to control the boiler and central heating so that it comes on and off when we want, but only if the temperature demands it, so what’s the difference that Smart thermostats make?

First of all, it’s important to bear in mind that a Smart Thermostat isn’t for everyone. If you’re habits and want are as predictable as clockwork then the timer and thermostat combination you already have in your home are more than likely to be quite sufficient to your needs. That’s not to say a Smart thermostat wouldn’t be handy in the long run, just don’t expect to see any miraculous plunges in your heating bills if you’re already in complete control of the heating. Read more

Making Homes Safer, More Efficient And More Secure With Smart Home Technology

When we talk about Smart Home Solutions it’s usually put in terms of home entertainments and making it easier to control media. What is often overlooked is the ‘Home’ aspect of the technology. We’re dazzled with the fun and exciting developments, but often overlook the incredible opportunities ‘domotics’ are offering.

Domotics is the word coined to refer to domestic robotics. These are the devices which are smart, but are related to the smooth, efficient, comfortable running of the home rather than home entertainments. Domotic devices include heating controls, smart lights, air conditioning, blinds, shutters and access control.

These devices don’t leap out as being the most exciting items on your home’s complement of goods, but in terms of function, labour saving and economy, they’re the stand-outs that are going to save you enough money to invest in the fun stuff. Bear in mind that anything which saves you money is therefore reducing energy consumption, which means that you’re saving the environment too, which are all good arguments to look into domotic

Smart Home systems. A cosy, low cost, low labour home? Sign me up! Read more

Smart Lighting? That’s A Brilliant Idea!

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Philips’ Hue Lighting Enhances TV Viewing

They’re the first thing you switch on when you get home, and the last thing you turn off as you get into bed, but you only really notice them when they stop working. Without them the electrification of the western world would still have happened, but at a much slower rate. Outwardly their design has changed very little, but the technology that goes into a lightbulb has changed radically, so why do you need to invest in Smart lights?

Edison and Swan invented the incandescent light bulb at almost exactly the same time, but Edison saw that to get electricity into every home he’d have to make it all the more practical, which is why he still holds the record for the most patents registered: all these labour saving devices meant mains electricity wasn’t a fad or a luxury, it was a necessity. Read more

Do You Know The Difference Between Your Smart, Connected, and IoT Devices?

smart home solutions, connected, iotWhile we bandy the words “Smart” and “connected” devices and “Internet of Things” around as if they were simply synonymous with one another, the truth is that while they’re closely related, the don’t in fact mean the same thing. So which is which and what’s what? Read on for a quick walk around the basics.

First of all, let’s look at Smart technology. Smart is actually an acronym for “Self-Monitoring Analysis and Reporting Technology” meaning that you are able to control the devices by voice or app, and check back on them via the app on your phone or computer. If the device is battery operated it will let you know in advance when the power levels are getting low, and you can see other diagnostic data when you look at the settings or status data your Smart devices are feeding back to you. Read more

Are You Plugged Into To Wireless Charging?

Wireless charging is one of those things: Nobody seems to know how it works, we only know it does, and that, I suppose, is all it takes. Have faith and your phone will work! We’re so used to plugging in in order to charge our devices that it seems like magic when you can just put something down, and after 30 minutes, it’s almost fully charged again.

The technology has been around for a couple of years now. It crops up in adverts, it looks cool, but nobody seems to be overwhelmingly enthused by it, even though it allows for fast charging, (Huawei, the current leaders in wireless charging, claim 70% in 30 minutes, which will naturally improve over time) charging between devices on the go and one plugged in phone being able to charge several other devices at the same time if you’re not near a charging pad. Read more

CCTV Is The Most Effective Deterrent Against Burglary And Car Theft

The numbers are in and it’s been confirmed: CCTV is the leading reason why both burglars AND car thieves will keep walking past your house or vehicle, and hone in on a neighbour who doesn’t have a visible deterrent instead.

When you need a product review, you ask an expert, right? If you want to know about a new car or washing machine you want to know what the experts think, so why should home security be any different? And that’s why CO-OP asked a dozen reformed criminals what it was that was the biggest deterrent against them breaking into a house or car.

And so it transpires that basic security lighting is at the bottom of the field while a CCTV camera is at the top. Security lighting is unreliable as it does nothing to spur neighbours into action if it’s triggered. Additionally, because the light goes off again once people stop moving once they’re on your property and forcing a door or window, so long as they don’t move energetically, the light won’t come on again. Allying lighting with cameras on the other hand sends out a strong signal that you’re taking security seriously and recording images of everyone who steps onto your property. Read more

There’s A Smart Future Ahead For Architecture

The Utopia for the ultimate in home technology has always been complete voice control and automation. The idea is often mocked, as evidence by such artists and film makers as Heath Robinson and Nick Park. However, the advances in microtechnology and electronics means that many of the ideas which were the realm of science fiction and comic books are now either available today or currently in development. So how do you go about futureproofing right through from planning to building?

We’re rapidly becoming familiar with smart phones, smart TV and smart speakers, using apps and voice controls to operate heating, lighting, viewing and blinds for example, but is the technology moving faster than architects, designers and builders can keep up?

Manufacturers are busy thinking how they can make their goods connected to the internet of things, we have fridges which will tell you when food is nearing its best before, blinds which will obey your commands, work on a timer, or independently when factoring the sun’s position in the sky, and ovens which can turn themselves off when your roast reaches the optimum shade of cooked, so you don’t have to keep opening the door as the timer runs down, just to check. Read more