How to Make Your Home a Smart Home
Smart home technology has been in ever greater evidence over the past few years, as homeowners try to take advantage of the convenience afforded by smart gadgets inside the home, and if the truth is known, simply to be on the cutting edge of modern living. Everything from lighting to music management and connecting ordinary appliances to the Internet via the Internet of Things (IoT), is being explored now, and many of these technological advances have already been made available as home automation products to the public.
Smart projects for the do-it-yourselfer
For many homeowners who have been caught up in the frenzy to convert their residences into smart homes, there are a whole slew of smart products available to get you started, and many more which can be added on later. The starting point will always be a central hub which manages the smart objects in your home, and the current leader in this kind of technology is Amazon’s Alexa, a personal assistant which is capable of accomplishing more than 10,000 distinct tasks, with management of smart devices among them.
Once you’ve decided on a central hub manager, all you have to do is track down products which are compatible with that manager, and they will all be labeled for that kind of compatibility. One very common way that a homeowner starts this process is by purchasing smart light bulbs. These might cost $20 apiece, but they last for years, and end up being well worth the investment.
After installing smart light bulbs, you’ll be able to talk to your assistant and say something like “Alexa, turn on the lights.” – and it will be done for you. From these simple beginnings, you can incorporate more and more household object into the sphere of your central control in the same way, until you’ve added on everything you want to, and your home automation strategy is complete. Or until the next big smart product hits the market, and you simply must install it.
Beyond the do-it-yourself projects
The process described above is pretty much the norm for converting your house into a smart home these days – but there’s something much more sophisticated which will be gaining attention in the very near future. Given the popularity of converting homes to smart dwellings (it is expected to become a $54 billion industry by the year 2022), it is only natural that the next big step in the evolution of smart homes would be conceived, tested, and implemented. A lot of this testing and development is currently underway, but some achievements have already been realized in the way of building smart technology right into homes at construction time.
This is a radical departure from the methodology of installing a central hub in an existing home, and then adding smart objects piecemeal into the infrastructure of that home. With smart technology already installed in a new home, it will be much more efficient and much more responsive to a homeowner’s true needs and wishes. A built-in central hub in the smart home of the future will control lighting, sound, entertainment, climate, and perhaps more important than all other areas, the home’s security. This kind of central hub will allow far more devices to be connected, and will be controllable from a myriad of devices, including smartphones, tablets, or possibly a remote control panel.
Tomorrow’s smart home technology
As previously mentioned, the smart home technology of the future will have most smart features built right in at the time of construction. For people who wish to benefit from another futuristic convenience, the electric vehicle, it will be extremely convenient to have a charging port installed in the home, so it won’t be necessary to constantly hunt for one out in public. Most purchasers of hybrid and electric cars are given the option of having an electric charging port installed in their homes right now as an add-on, but the smart home of the future can have it built in during initial construction.
Powering your smart home may be much less costly in the future, due to the emerging technology in this area, specifically relating to solar-powered homes and home batteries. Tesla is a company which has been paying particular attention to these two areas of research and development, and it has developed a solar collector which looks just like a roofing shingle, but collects sun rays and coverts them into power. This collected power can either be used immediately in the home, or stored in a home battery for later use.
The home batteries being developed by Tesla are capable of storing enormous quantities of power, and this can result in a savings to the homeowner of hundreds, and perhaps thousands of dollars per year. The solar shingles work in tandem with the high-capacity batteries, and as interest increases in solar power, it seems very likely that the twin technologies will gain traction among American homeowners, who wish to benefit by their installation.
More specific new technologies
To emphasize the built-in aspect of the smart home technology coming, some of the best energy-savers you can have in your home will be the advanced doors and windows which are somewhat available, and which are still undergoing development. With super-insulating capabilities, these windows and doors will keep a home’s interior much more protected from climatic conditions on the exterior, which means that heating and cooling of the interior will be much easier to sustain. Some of these windows are an expensive investment as add-ons, but those which are built into smart homes of the future will simply be part of an overall smart-themed home, and will not cost an arm and a leg extra.
It is expected that the smart home of the future will not emphasize the most common smart features of today, which are lighting and climate control. Instead, the focus of tomorrow’s smart home will be on connecting all the many home appliances to a home’s Wi-Fi network for more comprehensive control and convenience. For instance, there will probably be refrigerators which can create shopping lists for you, simply by detecting when your current supply of any given food item is running low. There will probably also be highly advanced entertainment systems which can be setup in every room of the home, and controlled either centrally or locally.
The new smart home
The most noticeable difference between the smart home of today and the smart home of tomorrow is likely to be the pervasiveness of objects connected to the Internet. It is more than likely that a great many smart devices will be included in a newly constructed home, and that even more will be added on later, to augment the convenience and usefulness of having a management system.
However, all this connectedness will come at a cost. There is little doubt that with so many devices being connected to the Internet, that home security will become an issue of critical importance. The more devices there are which are connected to the IoT, the greater the likelihood that some enterprising hacker will try to breach your security system for their own personal gain. Hackers are notorious for attacking those areas on the Internet which are most popular, simply because they provide the greatest number of opportunities to steal sensitive information for criminal intent.
That will necessitate a much greater emphasis on security in the home network, and on making a home’s devices safe from cyber-attack. It’s even possible that a whole new industry springs up in response to this threat, because it will be in such high demand. If a hacker were to gain access to your home network, he/she could totally disrupt the operation of those devices or hold them for ransom, until you paid that person a demanded amount of money.
What you can do to make your home smart
Knowing that there are a number of smart technological advances in the pipeline, and that many of these will make your home life much easier and more convenient, you could just inquire with area builders to find out if any of these kinds of homes are being built in your neighborhood. If you’re willing to re-locate, you will certainly find some of these homes being built around the country. Until then, you can take the proven approach of establishing a central hub in your home, and adding on each of those smart home automation services which you feel will provide the biggest benefit to you and your family.
By Ziad O. Al Hinawi
Founder and Visionary I-Trust Systems