The Smart House or The Home of the future is already here---thanks to today’s home automation systems. These systems connect our homes, our appliances and our devices to make our lives more convenient and safer. And a lot more fun, too!
Imagine being able to check the contents of your fridge while grocery shopping. Imagine receiving an alert letting your know that your children have unlocked the front door. Imagine turning on a camera from your phone or your browser at work to check on your pets from anywhere.
Using the concepts behind the Internet of Things, you can turn your ordinary house into an intelligent home. Home automation can be used for many systems in your house: climate control, security, lighting, entertainment and appliances. And with today’s increasingly sophisticated home automation hubs, it’s easier than ever to keep an eye on everything via a single dashboard.
Let’s have a deeper look at what smart home technology can achieve.
Before we go deeper into the different aspects of smart homes, we need to explain one thing first:
The Internet of Things (IoT) is the application of networking capabilities to everyday objects. The idea is to be able to control appliances, home features, tech gadgets, etc. from a smartphone, tablet, or computer, using the internet. It also means being able to program things like temperature and lighting via your smartphone, computer or tablet.
Internet-enabled objects can be programmed to send alerts to your smartphone under certain conditions; for example, a smart security system can send you an alert whenever the front door is locked or unlocked.
The Internet of Things wouldn’t be possible without wifi, the cloud, and smart devices. As smartphones became more and more popular, tech companies thought it would be a good idea to give people the ability to check or control devices from a distance via the internet. It was the beginning of home automation, and it’s come a long way since the first internet-enabled appliances!
In short, the IoT is what makes your intelligent home possible. The concepts of the IoT are behind every home automation system you can use today.
What systems can your home control via your smartphone? Let’s spend some time with each of them.
One of the first areas improved through home automation is climate control. Although it’s been possible to program temperature for quite a long time, you still needed to be in your home, using the original (and often not very practical) keypad.
Now, you can program and manage climate control via your smartphone, tablet or computer. It’s easier to program daily and seasonal patterns of temperature via an intuitive interface, rather than an impractical keypad.
Save on energy costs. By programming your thermostat to shut down when no one’s home, you save on your energy bill. You can program it to follow your family’s patterns so that no energy is wasted.
Have instant control if something changes. Going home earlier than usual? There’s a sudden and unusual weather change? You can tell your climate control app to start heating or cooling down the home right when you need it.
Control rooms separately. In larger homes, you can control the temperature of rooms separately. You like your bedroom cool and your living room warm? You can manage that with your smart thermostat settings.
Climate control is one of the most used, and most useful, home control systems. Installing a smart thermostat should be your priority when considering a home automation project.
Another area where home automation has contributed tons of improvements is security automation. Although there have been sophisticated security systems for quite a while, the addition of the internet makes them more practical to use, and even safer than before.
One of the things that the IoT has contributed to security automation is the ability to receive alerts from your security system wherever you are. For example, you can receive a notification every time someone rings your door, locks it or unlocks it. If you are using cameras, you can even check who is at the door on a live video feed, even if you’re at work or running errands.
You can also use internal cameras and locks for sensitive areas of your house: the office, the basement, or any other room you want to limit access to. Access any of your cameras from your phone or your tablet at any time to check on your pets, children, or guests.
Program different alerts and notifications related to your security system. Receive an alert anytime someone rings the bell, locks or unlocks a door.
Set entry codes for guests and family members. Have a visitor coming over, but can’t welcome them in your home? Set up an entry code (for code lock systems) and send it to them on their phone so they can access your home while you’re not there. Receive an alert when they unlock the door.
Check in on pets, children or guests with internet-enabled security cameras.
View the camera feed of your home’s entrance before you open the door to a stranger.
With the help of smart home technology, ensuring the safety of your family and your home has never been easier. Security systems are among the most popular smart home features.
Never leave another light turned on when the room’s empty with smart light control. Smart home control systems let you see the status of any light in your house, and let you turn it on or off from your phone, tablet or computer.
You can easily program lights to turn on and off at specific times of the day, which increases security by making it appear as if someone’s home. Smart lighting systems also enable you to turn on lights just before getting home, so you don’t fumble for them in the dark.
If your home uses both a security and a lighting control system, you can link them together and program the lights to turn on the moment the front door is unlocked, for example. We’ll explore different ways to link automation systems a bit further down.
What are the benefits of smart lighting control?
Save energy by only using the lighting you need, when you need it. Never leave the light on in an unused room again.
Increase your home safety by programming a pattern of lighting during the day or when on vacation, to make it seem like someone is home.
Program lights for your schedule and the season. Turn lights on earlier in the winter, later in the summer, and turn them off automatically at bedtime.
With lighting control, you can make your home more comfortable to live in. Never fumble for a light in the dark again when you can turn it on from your smartphone, or program it on ahead of time!
Integrated Music System & Home Entertainment systems
Home-based wireless networks have made entertainment systems more flexible and practical than ever. These systems let you access all your media content from any device, anywhere in your home. Today, we can have full control of the music system for the home. That way, the kids can watch their favourite show on their tablet in their bedroom while you catch up on the news before dinner or listen to their favorite tunes!
You can also easily see who has accessed what content, restrict access to any content via a password, or pause any content and resume it on another device.
What are the benefits of a smart entertainment system?
Keep a centralized bank of all your entertainment content. No more searching for a file on one of the many computers in your home. Just search for the file in your centralized database and play it from any compatible device.
Control access to content via password. Don’t want the kids to watch violent movies, or need to vet a new TV show before putting it on the family television? Put them under password lock.
Easily see which content is accessed by which device, and keep data about watching and listening habits. Know what your kids are watching and how much TV they watch on a daily basis so you can make smart decisions about your family’s media activities.
Integrated entertainment systems are becoming standard fare in most homes today, with or without a larger home automation system. Computers, smart TVs, media hubs and home networks have made it easy to access your favourite entertainment at any time, from any device, from anywhere in your home.
The latest, newest and coolest appliances now have IoT capabilities. Some examples include fridges with cameras so you can check inside from your phone, ovens that you can start with your phone so dinner is ready on time, washing machines that send you an alert when their cycle is done, and even coffee makers that you can program to wake you up with the smell of a fresh brew.
Smart appliances have different capabilities and uses depending on the manufacturer. It’s easy to choose the right appliance for your budget and your needs. Manufacturers are now building appliances that work with home automation hubs---which is our next section.
All right, we now have an overview of all the different things home automation can do for us. But now, we need a way to control all of these things from a centralized system---your smart home hub.
Home automation system companies have come up with control hubs from where you can program and control every connected system in your home. Instead of using a separate app or page for every system, these hubs let you use a centralized interface to control all your intelligent home applications.
Fully integrated home automation hubs also let you cross-program different systems together: link the entrance light with the front door locking or unlocking, for example. Turn on a camera whenever the doorbell rings. Turn on the heater in the house when someone unlocks the front door. Check the status of every light in the house after it’s locked in the morning. Send an alert to your phone from the fridge whenever you check at the grocery store, reminding you of things to buy.
With a little imagination, the possibilities are endless. The best home automation hub is the one that you can use easily and that lets you manage your home the way you want it.
Read our reviews of the latest smart home appliances, apps and applications. Not sure if a particular appliance or system is right for you? Check out its pros and cons here.
Learn how to program your smart home, install appliances, or manage the many different systems involved in your home automation project. Check out our how-tos and guides for popular apps and appliances.
Read about the latest and newest product releases, technology advancements and home automation news.
New and advanced Smart Home Devices to integrate in your home now:
Smart entertainment devices are some of the coolest things on the market. And for the music lovers out there, you are definitely going to want to consider getting yourself an Amazon Echo. The 360 degree speaker design gives you perfect audio for the entire room—and that’s all with one compact speaker that can be easily transported anywhere.
A MUST READ
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