Voice-activated cookers, remote-controlled loos and a fridge that can tell you the weather.
If someone from 1999 spent the last 20 years in cryo-freeze, then woke up and immediately took a walk down the smart home section of any leading store, they would probably think the robots had finally taken over.
Detailed datasheets on household ‘performance’; surveillance cameras and digital locks; artificial intelligence – with its own ‘human’ names – ruling our appliances with an iron fist make up the world of smart homes.
But while modern smart devices are just the latest step in the ever-evolving quest for ultimate convenience and efficiency – with constant new developments and an endless stream of jargon, they can still be thoroughly confusing.
In its simplest terms, a smart home is a connected set of domestic gadgets and appliances, controlled via a central hub or smartphone.
Many of these gadgets will feedback information and performance data, some are automated and will perform their function without human intervention, and almost all are geared towards convenience.
Take, for instance, the smart thermostat, one of the harbingers of the smart revolution. Hive Active Heating allows you to control your central heating via your smartphone. Either set schedules remotely ahead of time or simply turn on your heating en route and arrive at instant snugness and warmth.
A few years ago, devices like these were the headline act, and each new addition would be accompanied by an app. Now, a lot of smart homes are ruled by larger, interconnected systems, usually commanded via voice-activated AI.
Amazon Echo is perhaps the most prominent, with Google Assistant and Apple HomeKit in hot pursuit. Other platforms are available, and homeowners should do their research and decide which one best suits their needs.
These systems work with a wide range of other brands and gadgets, so if you do choose to build a home around an AI, be sure to check compatibility before you buy.
Once your smart home is responding to your voice, you can start giving it interesting toys. Everything from smart bulbs to plugs and even large appliances such as cookers and fridges are a part of the smart world.
With all this tech lying around in full view, smart security becomes particularly useful. Perhaps the most developed and mainstream of all the smart fields, these defensive devices erect an impenetrable wall of technology around your home to ward off potential break-ins.
You can have cameras, motion detectors and locks installed which will allow you to control the doors of your home from wherever you might be.
Some examples of when this is especially useful are being able to let in a contractor who you’re expecting or “answering” the door and telling the person outside that you’re not interested in what they’re offering. This sends a strong message that someone is home, even when you’re at your office many miles away.
Smart homes are convenient and customization to your every need, especially useful for those with physical impairments to help them lead a normal life.
They are well known for their improved security and each device is easy to install for tech novices out there.
What’s more, thermostats, air conditioning, and lighting can all be controlled for optimal energy efficiency to help save our planet in a green world.
While it may seem reminiscent of a dystopian future, the rise of smart homes is helping to pave the way for a better and more efficient future.