Get Smart! Take Control of Your Home with Smart Home Devices

A smart kettle sits on a counter in the foreground, while a woman in the background controls the kettle with a smartphone.

Just about everything is smart these days, including kettles. Choosing a new home means getting a smart home, which can be controlled via a smartphone or other device.

It’s happened to every homeowner at least once: you rushed out the door to make your 9 a.m. meeting and forgot to lock the front door.

Or perhaps you left your house wondering if you really turned the oven off. And then there’s the dreaded, “I left the AC on 72 degrees for two weeks while I was gone on vacation.” What a waste of electricity!

So, how can you take control of our home? Lucky for you, the rapid advancements in home technology over the last few years has been impressive and home tech experts say we will continue to see rapid advancements.

In fact, it’s almost time to tell that robot to clean the entire house, do the laundry and have dinner prepared by 6:45. Just remember to say, “please.”

We all leverage technology to make living at home easier — to one degree or another. If you look back at early advertisements for vacuum cleaners or washing machines, technology was always part of the conversion. Today, the entire ecosystem of the home is tech driven. If you’re wondering what that means, and whether it’s a fit for your lifestyle, read on.

What is a Smart Home Anyway?

A smart home is a home equipped with appliances and devices that you can control remotely via Wi-Fi using your phone or computer. Here are some examples: lights, AC, oven, thermostat, coffee machine, entertainment system. And depending where you’re at — basically, anywhere in the world — if you have Wi-Fi, you can easily communicate with your home.

A panel discussion at the International Builders Show in Orlando in early January addressed the rise of smart homes, drawing from the knowledge of experts across the industry.

Live in a Home That Is More Perceptive

So, what are the main drivers of this breakout technology?

“A smart home detects when something happens out of norm and figures out what to do,” said Tim Westman of Intel Corporation. “You can’t pre-program every single scenario that could happen in your home. Therefore, the home just needs to understand what’s going on and to take action.”

In order for a smart home to learn your patterns, behaviors and actions, it must use AI (artificial intelligence). Sensors connected to devices such as the coffee maker track your patterns. The more sensors the smart home has, the more your home understands who you are and can predict what you need.

“You no longer have isolated standalone devices today,” said Westman. “Smart homes hear, feel and communicate with you, just like human cognition.”

The Internet of Things

The Internet of Things, also known as IoT, is a network of electrical devices, such as the oven, the toaster, the dishwasher, etc., that are interconnected and exchange data. Your network, or smart home, is a hub for all these devices, allowing you to control the devices remotely or delegate the control of devices.

Delegation can mean two things. The first is programming your smart home to manage devices in your absence. The second is a giant leap forward: allowing AI built into your smart home to learn your behavior and make decisions on your behalf.

What is the Value of Choosing a Smart Home?

If you’re building a new home, you have probably been pitched smart home integration. Should you do it?

The energy efficiency alone is compelling. While smart home systems can be pricey, and the appliances that integrate with them are expensive as well, over time, you save quite a bit on electricity, while also minding the planet.

Resale value is also a consideration: the next wave of buyers is very likely to choose a smart home. A recent Coldwell Banker Real Estate Survey found that many homebuyers are interested in a connected home.

Smart homes that incorporate devices like smart locks, motions sensors and light timers make your house less attractive to burglars. Hackers, on the other hand, could be a risk for homeowners with a wired home. Jody Rigdon of Samsung claimed that “such a risk is minimized since the technology uses high levels of encryption to protect your home and to keep you safe.”
That’s a breezy dismissal that not everyone agrees with. There have been reports of hackers gaining access to smart home devices, including smart slow cookers.

Until this security issued is resolved, there will continue to be a concern about protecting one’s smart home and personal information.

From Nice-To-Have to Must-Have

For now, most are focused on the solutions offered by smart homes. You no longer have to worry about locking yourself out of the house, or forgetting to turn off the lights before you leave. The remote monitoring system can reassure you at all times. And, what we used to consider nice-to-have options or perks only the wealthy could afford are quickly becoming must-have features.
Todd Ristorcelli is a freelance writer and contributor to NewHomeSource.

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