Top 5 Quick Fixes For Smart Technology

WiFi enabled tablet in persons handsLike any technology that is made to be used daily by consumers, Smart Home Tech can get a bit uppity, run slowly, crash or perform strangely. This can be caused by any number of issues, but mostly they can be easily fixed by following the mantra “Have you tried turning it off and on again!?”

(Here’s an interesting fact, Tommy Flowers, the man who designed and built Colossus, the bedroom sized computer which Alan Turing used to break the Enigma code recommended that his machine was never turned off, as it would take more than 3 days to start again! PC users know the feeling.)

But what if a ‘dynamic power cycle’ (unplugging it without turning it off) doesn’t have the desired effect? Is there anything else you can do or is your Smart device kaput?

Chances are that there isn’t really anything wrong with it at all, and here’s what you can do to fix many of the most common problems Smart Home Tech users experience. Read more

Improving Security In Schools & Colleges

burglar alarms, cctv systemsSecurity in environments where children, young adults and the vulnerable is of paramount importance. Of course we in Britain face nothing like the security issues that our friends in the USA have, but yet it remains important that people in positions of responsibility over the young and those in need of additional consideration are able to secure their premises here in the UK.

Security systems in schools don’t only protect the children, school estates are often victim to vandalism and burglary while teachers and the children under their supervision can be victims of violence and accusations of malpractice, assault or violence.

The problem lies with the expectation of privacy in such an environment. There’s a misconception that the faces of children can’t be filmed in public without their consent and people think this extends to school property. The reality is that in spaces such as classrooms, hallways and corridors there is no reasonable ‘expectation of privacy’ so you could put cameras up, however, teachers and pupils don’t appreciate having cameras trained on them all day. Unfortunately, it’s in the classroom where misbehaviour occurs and recorded footage proving who was at fault would be beneficial. Read more

If You Think Your Job Is Rubbish, Look What We Do!

Briant Communicationsfibre optic, repair, maintenance, industrial, don’t only provide data cabling and fibre optic cables for household users. We were recently called out to attend a large industrial site, UBB in Essex. Unfortunately it wasn’t a bakery or biscuit factory, no, just our luck it was a 6 acre waste treatment and recycling plant.

As part of the waste treatment process it is left to maturate for several weeks, meaning that the smell inside swimming pool sized tanks was, predictable. Unfortunately the grot which is left in food containers when they’re thrown into the average household recycling attracts a variety of wildlife, who grow big and plump off of all the scraps which are available. The creatures which cause the biggest problem for us when it comes to fibre optic data communication is rats. They make their homes in the undisturbed, secure spaces where cables and fibre optics are housed and channelled, gnawing trunking and sheaths. And it’s this activity which gives us our biggest headache as the damage to fibre optic cabling is a great deal harder to fix than simply reconnecting two ends of wire, as it would be with metal cable. Read more

Tech To Take Travelling

Image courtesy of www.maxpixel.net

It’s June and the weather, as is traditional for a British Summer, is appalling. Sunny spells interrupt torrential rain, but only occasionally. Still, it’s good for the garden. It’s also good for hoteliers in sunnier parts of the world. The airports are telling us they need to expand to cope with the ever increasing traffic which goes through them as flying becomes more like commuting for more and more of us.

But this is a home tech blog, why am I talking about taking a flight to a beach somewhere?

Simple. Travel Tech. The stuff you can’t leave behind now that you are an online, connected individual. Read more

Are You Surfing The Z-Wave Of Home Automation?

Z-wave is a wireless protocol which links a number of over 2600 different Smart Home Devices together. However, unlike your WiFi network or Bluetooth, Z-Wave is a software and hardware solution designed specifically to support a Smart Home environment. It differs significantly from WiFi and Bluetooth as it is a mesh network, meaning that each device repeats each signal it receives. Consequently the more Z-Wave devices you have, the stronger and more reliable the network is.

The signal the devices send is short range in itself, (up to approximately 330ft but a range of 50ft or less is recommended for solid reliability) but when many small devices are operating in your home, the mesh ensures that distance between the originating device and the intended receiver is no problem. This means that unlike other wireless communications, the more devices enhance reception rather than taking up bandwidth from a router which also serves your other connected devices, internet access, et cetera. Read more

Save Time Now And Prepare For The Future With Labour Saving Smart Tech

As well as being an efficient way of protecting your home from intruders, watch the kids and talk to your pets while you’re at work, and ask questions, smart home devices are perfect for saving time and effort around the house.

We’re very much an ‘on demand’ society these day. We want everything instantly and while modern technology does its best to deliver access as soon as a whim crosses our minds, it has its limitations. And that’s where Smart Technology can come in and save the day!

There’s little worse than coming home to a cold dark house in the middle of winter. So why not let your house know when you’re on your way home and putting the heating on ready for your return? And it’s irritating when you leave home for the day and realise that you’ve left the lights or heating on, so turn it off as soon as you remember, whether that’s from the train, your desk or the airport as you fly off on your holidays.

At the shops and can’t find your list? You should have had your Smart recycling bin send you the list, but never mind, just look at the camera in the fridge and look how low the milk is getting. You can programme it to keep track of the Best Before dates too, so you always have fresh fruit & veg. This is handy for people on the go, and it’s equally handy if you’ve trouble remembering things or you care for a relative who finds it hard to get out. The reassurance you feel from knowing that their fridge is stocked takes a load off your mind. Read more

Smart Home Makes Life Easier For People With Disabilities And Those Who Want To ‘Age In Place’

Smart Home Automation Controlled by a wall panelSmart home technology seems to be about making routine tasks simple and effort free. It’s most appealing to people who are among the most tech savvy, young and engaged with what’s happening on the electronics front. They earn enough money to be able to afford home automation and the devices that are needed to seamlessly integrate Smart tech into their routines. That mundane, boring tasks are taken care of without a second thought. But what about the people whose need is greater? Those who wish to ‘Age in Place’? Or those with disabilities or other lifestyle limiting problems whose lack of engagement with the latest trends in home technology. Not being into tech means that they’re unlikely to hear about the advancements which are taking place, and least likely to appreciate how those innovations are going to help them with their daily lives?

Smart home technology is all about outsourcing routine tasks to a device or app which can do it for you, so it’s perfect for people with disabilities, loss of fine motor controls, dementia, injuries, and mobility problems. However, in the ads we see for Connected Devices we, so far, have only seen the fun side of home automation with happy smiling families enjoying an active lifestyle which Alexa or Google simply add to. How long until we see a wheelchair user or someone with life affecting injuries using their Smart devices to do things which are awkward, or impossible for them to do without help enjoying the benefits that these technologies bring? Read more

The Smart Way To Deal With Hay Fever This Summer

Dyson Pure Air Purifier

Spring is in the air, we’re throwing our windows open, getting the first fresh air of the year blowing the cobwebs out and also blowing pollen and pollutants in.

Briant Communications offices are located a few minutes’ walk from the sea so we don’t suffer with hay fever much. We don’t get much in the way of airborne particulates, we just get seagulls and gales instead. In summer the air indoors doesn’t get awfully dry but in autumn and winter the air can be very damp. A penetrating damp which makes you cold right through and you feel like you’ll never be able to get warm again.

Thanks to the fresh sea air and good stiff breezes we don’t get too much pollen or dust. There’s a popular myth that household dust is mostly made up of human skin particles, in reality house dust is made up of a delicious cocktail of skin cells, from humans and pets, pollen, traffic pollutants, fabric particles and soil. So not as icky as common legend suggests, but still an unpleasant blend of grot which we all breathe in all day every day. Because so many of these particles are allergenic we have need to come up with a number of different machines, including humidifiers, dehumidifiers and air conditioners in order to filter and purify the air to make it breathable. Read more

What’s Up Baby? The Smart Monitor Choices

baby monitor image courtesy of www.maxpixel.net

When they were first introduced Smart baby monitors were hacked thanks to their poor security and frequently used as an example for the necessity of keeping your internet security locked tight.

However, if you’re a new parent but you’re busy, your baby has a condition which means you prefer the peace of mind of watching over them or your family has experienced SIDS in the past then a Smart baby monitor is invaluable for your peace of mind.

Analogue baby monitors were passive devices, essentially a mic attached to a transmitter which you left in the room with the baby, and a receiver with a speaker which you put in the room where you were. All you could do with it was hear that the baby was breathing, or, if you invested in the top of the range baby monitors, you could talk back to the baby. The monitor that the parents kept with them often had indicator lights which would light up to indicate the sound of breathing, but that was it as far as visual and sonic alarms went. Read more

What Do You Get When You Buy A Smart Home Alarm System?

CCTV and smart home alarmWhen you invest in a Smart Home alarm system you don’t just get alarms, you get cameras, door and window sensors, smoke, fire, water and CO detectors too. You can buy a full outfit for your home, or you can start off small and add more devices as you discover you need additional sensors and detectors. Your home security alarm package is adaptable and customizable, not only can you add new detectors and alarms, you can add skills and If This Then That (IFTTT) when particular events occur. DIY kits are a good entry level security solution which you can usually install in an afternoon while professionally installed systems take about as long for an engineer to install, after planning the coverage that your property will receive and installing all the appropriate devices, installing the software and hardware and syncing all the devices together.

As well as opting between DIY or professional installation, you can choose between DIY and professional monitoring as well. With DIY monitoring you’ll receive emails, SMS and Push notifications when sensors and motion detectors are triggered, whereas if you choose professional monitoring an agent will be notified and, depending on what they observe, will attempt to contact you in person. If they can’t contact you via the above methods they’ll try to phone you. If they still can’t contact you then they will call the emergency services. Read more