Every aspect of life has advanced with technology. Cars have gone from being barely distinguishable from horse carriages to fully functional, robot-controlled vehicles. Phones, which once occupied entire rooms, now record videos, send documents and are tinier than our hands. It’s no wonder that many expect homes to progress in similar ways thanks to technology. And with the concept of the smart home, the expectation will probably become a reality in 2017.
When people talk about “smart” technology, what exactly do they mean? After all, technology by definition seems to be clever. But, for tech companies, smart just means being connected to the internet. Everything from televisions to vacuum cleaners has been identified as smart. Connecting to the internet helps to expand a device’s function. For example, a smart television doesn’t just play movies from DVDs, it can stream movies directly from the internet. A smart fridge can calculate expiration dates, sending messages to owners when it’s time for replacing or replenishing.
The number of devices being created that can connect to the internet will only increase, as more of the world obtains internet access. After all, these days, almost no one would opt for a mobile phone that only makes phone calls. The expectation from consumers has itself changed, which means tech companies’ priorities are more focused than ever on delivering connected devices.
If this is what individual devices can do, it’s reasonable to wonder what exactly a smart home is capable of.
As CNBC summarized, a smart home is one that is “equipped with network-connected products (i.e., ‘smart products,’ connected via Wi-Fi, Bluetooth or similar protocols) for controlling, automating and optimizing [various home] functions.” These functions include everything from room temperature to lighting, some of which is learned through artificial intelligence.
What you’re seeing is the Internet of Things in action, as devices use the internet to interact in various ways to achieve advanced goals. As PC Mag notes, a smart home security system “can remotely control your door locks, lawnmowers, lights, thermostats, vacuums, and even pet feeders”, all by simply using your smartphone and a related app. You can monitor your home anywhere in the world thanks to cameras in the home connecting to your smartphone.
It's also made it very easy (and relatively affordable) to monitor your home from just about anywhere with a smart security system.
The Internet of Things is becoming reality as more internet access becomes available at affordable prices. And the smart home is merely the conclusion of producing and adopting smart devices under one roof.
However, central to the Internet of Things, according to researchers, is the ability to produce proper sensors. As TechCrunch reports, “sensors, the tiny devices that fuel the Internet of Things, are getting smaller and cheaper all the time”. This will reduce the cost of production and therefore the cost to the consumer. As with all forms of tech progress, wider adoption tends to follow affordability. More people will be using the Internet of Things in their daily lives, transforming their homes into smart homes.
As we’ve pointed out before, however, this brings with it security concerns. Just because you’ve turned your home into a smart home doesn’t mean you’re out of the woods when it comes to safety. Regardless, this is an exciting time for everyone who cares about technology and making their home more advanced.
Primarily, most homeowners seem interested in the application to home safety. While it might be fancy for an artificial intelligence application to learn your temperature preferences, that kind of advanced system is better applied to keeping yourself and your loved ones safe.