To be fair, the world of Home Automation isn’t a new one. Heath Robinson designed spectacularly elaborate and convoluted machines which were intended to make mundane tasks easier and faster. We see labour saving technology everywhere in cinema when directors want to establish the idea of a future based on progress and technological ingenuity, say for example Wallace and Gromit. Brilliant inventions which, despite a few minor hiccups, bring efficiency to both home and business.
It wasn’t long ago that people with enough money had servants. They could tell a maid or butler what it was they wanted, and their desires would be met. If there was no servant within earshot they simply needed to pull a cord and one would appear, ready to take their instruction. Of course this wasn’t the perfect solution for the staff, but as far as the homeowners were concerned, this was a fine solution.
Robots Are Everywhere!
Move on to today and the object of the fantasy is becoming a reality. Robots are taking over doing many basic jobs around the house. Not one robot which carries out all the tasks which need doing, but any number of little robots which do a specific set of duties, all coordinated and working in concert with one another.
The advent of wifi, Bluetooth and fast, reliable data transfer made this possible, along with tools which have a simple, appreciable benefit to homeowners. It’s debatable whether Smart Home Automation would have taken off if, instead of devices such as access controls, thermostats, CCTV and Smart Speakers, we had been expected to invest in a general purpose domestic robot which could go to the door, warm the home and answer any number of questions while playing music or movies.
The More You Have The Better It Gets
Because these devices have tangible benefits, and the cost is not much different from those which aren’t IoT enabled uptake is easier. And, once installed, the advantages of having more and more connected products become more apparent. This is borne out by the connected device industry being worth an estimated $120 billion today, with a 27% compound annual growth rate predicted for the next five years at least. In a study undertaken in the states a year ago Growth From Knowledge discovered that a third of Americans own at least two Smart Home devices and almost 70% of 25-34 year-olds expect Smart tech to appreciably affect the way they live their lives in the near future.
Moore’s Law dictates that as technology advances it becomes half the size and twice as powerful while the cost halves every two years. As a rule of thumb this seems accurate, technology moves so quickly that a two year old device will seem old today, and you probably wouldn’t be able to replace it with a like for like device as it will have been superseded and surpassed in terms of function, so the price principal is moot unless you were buying second hand since very few retailers would keep two year old stock.
So, that means that there are a vast number of people who are about to get their first Smart Home IoT Smart devices now that they’re cheap, reliable, and proven to be useful. This being the case, what should the ingénue look for when making their first purchases?
As mentioned above, some of the most practical applications are the security and monitoring devices. Home security has always been a key concern for any homeowner or parent, so Smart home security systems and alarms would be the perfect place to start automating. Smart security cameras allow you to see who’s at your door, in your garden, peering through your windows or trying the locks on your shed or garage. Many brands give you two way sound so you can hear and speak to visitors, lamps to light your approach to your front door and night vision which can capture fine quality images without flooding the neighbourhood with light.
Disconnection Doesn’t Stop Smart Alarms
Security indoors is equally important, so monitors and alarms which will replace your old detectors are a great investment. If they are disconnected from the WiFi they will still sound a shrieking alarm, but if they detect smoke, fire, carbon monoxide or flooding while connecting they will send notifications to your phone, computer and your security monitoring service, if you have one. They let you know the nature and location of the emergency, turn on lights, unlock doors making escape easier.
In order for your Smart alarms to turn the lights on you’ll need either Smart lights or a Smart plug to control them. Smart lights are energy efficient LEDs which are available in white, or coloured. Coloured lights can achieve white light, or enhance the mood by changing colour to any you desire. They are also dimmable, either by voice, app or control panel. A Smart plug is simply an adapter which can come on and go off as instructed via the home hub. It monitors power consumption, can be set to a schedule, can turn things on and off as part of a If This Then That programme and be operated from anywhere via a mobile app.
Join The Dots
Then there’s the Smart Home Speaker such as the Amazon Echo Dot. These Smart Home Assistants can be placed in any room and can carry out a number of tasks, such as setting alarms, sending announcements, enabling ‘drop-ins’ where you can chat to anyone on your network via another Dot or speaker, ask it questions, and you can automate anything you connect it to.
One of the few problems you might experience is that of compatibility. Most manufacturers make devices which will run on one of several platforms, wifi, Bluetooth, Control4 and Z-Wave being the chief among them. Now, connected devices will all play together, but they may need additional help to really sync perfectly. For example If This Then That (IFTTT) is a system which lets your devices recognise when you have given an instruction for one thing to happen and as a result a chain of pre-programmed events happen subsequently. That being said, in many circumstances you won’t even notice if your Smart devices are working on WiFi, Bluetooth or Z-Wave. There are an ever increasing range of devices which work on a number of different platforms, if you’re using an app to control them then you’ll want to put your most used in a place where you’ll find them easily.
Most devices will have their own apps and controls, and can be used independently or in conjunction with IFTTT, however, in theory at least they should be able to connect to your Smart Home Environment to a greater or lesser degree via a home hub as well.
Naturally, if you’re interested in Smart Home Automation and have any questions, why not talk to the professionals? Briant Communications have years of experience installing a range of Smart devices including access control, CCTV, Home Theatre and other devices. Call us on 01273 465377 or fill in your details on our Contact Us page and we’ll call you back.