Smart Home Technology
The rise of home technology
Imagine this: You wake up in the morning and it’s unseasonably cold. Before getting out of bed, you grab your phone. From an app, you turn the heat on, start a cup of coffee brewing and open the blinds. You say out loud, “What’s the weather today?” and a speaker answers with the forecast. It’s not a house of the future, it’s a smart home. And you can do all of this today.
Smart home products
In 2016, 80 million smart home devices were delivered worldwide (a 64% increase from 2015) — proving that more and more people are turning to these products to make their homes safer or more convenient. Take a look at some of the consumer items available to make life easier, save energy and automate day-to-day events.
Voice activated digital assistants
Instead of stopping to make a note or look something up, just ask the digital assistant. The speaker listens and does a variety of voice-activated commands. It can search the web for questions or weather updates, play music or order products.
Smart garage doors
The garage door will magically open and close when you get close or drive away using geo-fencing technology. Never forget to close the garage again.
Vacuum and mop floors using a robot cleaner. Set timers so they clean the home at night or during the day while it’s unoccupied, and then come home to a clean house.
We’ve come a long way from the retro kitchen appliances of the 50s — now connected appliances can solve all of life’s problems. Smart refrigerators can remotely take a photo of the inside of the fridge so you can see if you need milk while at the store. A connected coffee pot can be started via an app so there’s a hot cup of coffee ready in the mornings. A Wi-Fi-enabled slow cooker gives you the ability to remotely adjust settings so dinner never burns. Smart ovens can be set to preheat from an app so the oven is ready for dinner after work.
Automated blinds raise and lower with a voice command or touch of an app.
Pet care products
A smart dog or cat bowl alerts when you need to reorder pet food and monitors food consumption. Some connected treat devices allow you to see your pet, talk to them and dispense a treat while you’re away from home.
Home security cameras automatically record when movement is detected, and most of them have an option to watch a live feed from an app or save videos to the cloud for unlimited storage.
Lock and unlock the house with an app for a safer option than traditional hide-a-keys. Some will even unlock the door as you approach using geo-fencing technology.
Smart home gadgets detect carbon monoxide, water leaks and smoke or even monitor air quality. They will alert homeowners with any concerns, which can help prevent damage and health issues.
Make the peep hole a thing of the past with a video doorbell. View any visitors via an app, and even talk to them through a speaker. Paired with a smart lock, you could let repair people or guests in the home remotely.
Designed for both home automation and energy savings, these thermostats can be programmed with a schedule so it automatically changes the temperature in the home or certain rooms depending on personal needs.
Connected lightbulbs have a variety of fun and energy-saving features. They can act as speakers, play music or podcasts from Bluetooth devices, change colors to set the mood, or automatically turn on and off when someone enters the room or by virtual command.
Ever left home and wondered if you turned off the iron? Connected plug-ins allow for remotely disabling the plugs from an app, saving energy and mental stress.
A smart sprinkler system keeps an eye on the weather and soil quality and only waters when needed, conserving water and preventing overwatering. Many have the ability to remotely control the system as well.
How to set up a house for smart home technology
Before you can install and start using any household gadgets, you need to make sure your home is ready for the technology.
- Connect reliable internet service. Since all of these devices run on internet, you want to make sure your home is equipped with strong, reliable service. While devices may not require much bandwidth, make sure your home is equipped with a connectivity package that provides enough data for your family’s devices.
Set up a wireless router and/or a hub. Devices connect to the internet through either a router or a hub device. A hub is a device that allows multiple appliances and products to connect to it, and then it connects to a router.
- If you choose to only use a router, make sure it allows multiple devices to connect to it.
- If you add a hub, make sure it’s compatible with all of your devices. The hub will connect to your router, and then the device will connect to the hub.
- Download applications. On your smart phone or tablet, download the apps needed for your hub and devices. Having an up-to-date phone or tablet will allow full use of the applications.
What smart home systems do you want to add?
How could your life be better with the use of technology? Peace of mind with a video doorbell? The energy savings of a smart thermostat? Or the convenience of a remote vacuum cleaner? Let us know which household gadgets you want to add in the comments below.