Smart home devices are the in-thing today as they make it easier to control wireless, video, data, security, climate and lighting applications or home appliance and lifestyle gadgets with a single command. Home automation ranges from simple activities like setting up a lamp to turn it on and off at your whim to advanced surveillance cameras, house-cleaning robots, and Wi-Fi routers. You can automate actions across various accessories that let you play music, and see who is at your door, switch the power off in the living room while you’re watching a movie, close your garage, lock your doors, and adjust your home’s temperature, or vacuum your floors, among other things.
Thanks to the Internet of Things (IoT), a key component of home automation, everything … computers, smartphones, clocks, speakers, lights, doorbells, cameras, windows, window blinds, hot water heaters, appliances, cooking utensils … can function with a simple push of a button (or your voice command). With connected door locks, video doorbells, security cameras, and monitoring systems such as water leak detectors, energy management systems, and connected thermostats, you are never far away from easy access to the control and security of your home.
Setting up a smart home
Homes are becoming smarter day by day with the help of technology integration. In a SMART (Self-Monitoring Analysis and Reporting Technology) home set-up, everything from appliances, lighting, heating, and air conditioning, TVs, computers, audio-video systems to cameras are capable of communicating between themselves.
Fig. 1: Representational Image of Smart Home Using Mobile
Setting up your smart home can be as basic as putting a smart speaker in your living room or may be as complex as an intricate network of connected devices. The built-in monitoring systems in smart home devices can calculate and log usage by all connected devices, empowering the homeowner heightened awareness and the knowledge to make changes as necessary.
This technology allows users to control and monitor their home devices from smartphones or other networked devices. Often, homes do not come with these appliances and systems built into them. Therefore, the most common and affordable approach is for you to retrofit smart products into your home.
These devices are unified by a smart home system that gets them talking together. An overarching command center that controls your individual devices, it will get you the information you need, or talk to the connected devices. Apple, Google, and Amazon are the major players that provide smart ecosystems. For your benefit, these hi-tech real-world connected home systems are mutually compatible as home accessories from one major platform sync up and play nicely with rival systems that work on a common protocol for communication.
Certain useful devices for a smart home
Fig. 2: Representational Image Of Home Automation
There are several home gadgets from locks to switches to speakers to turn your dumb house into a smart home. Let us have a look atsome of these popular smart home devices that go a long way in enhancing, rather transforming your lifestyle:
Fig. 3: Image Of Smart Speaker
The smart speaker is affordable and stylish with new fabric finishes to fit your home. It can be installed in the kitchen, living room, bedrooms, bathrooms, rooftop deck etc.It can play your favorite music, turn the TV on, make phone calls or send messages, answer questions, and set alarms for you. It connects to other smart products in your home, so you can use it as your liaison between them without the need of ever leaving your couch.
By virtue of their being remotely controlled and customized, smart lighting systems can detect when occupants are in the room and can regulate themselves based on daylight availability. They can even change colours to mimic a sunrise or sunset.They enable you to control both intensity of light – dimming or brightening on-command –and the colour of your lights. You can create special colour-coordinated moods (i.e. choose a particular theme for a specific room you’re in, or sync it with your music). You can also set colour-coordinated alarms, ensuring you wake up every morning to a bright pink bedroom.
Smart thermostat works by injecting machine learning into heating and cooling your home. It can be installed in upstairs and downstairs hallways. It keeps the majority of the functions, even if you have a high-end multi-stage heating or cooling system, compatible with your setup.It comes with integrated Wi-Fi, allowing users to schedule, monitor and remotely control home temperatures. Smart thermostat can also report energy use and remind users to change filters, among various other things.
Fig. 4: Image Of Smart-switch
You may have decked out your home with smart LED bulbs but have to get up every time to turn them on and off. Now you can have some smart lovely switches that set lights to turn on when your home’s motions sensors detect movement. You can use your voice to control whether or not your physical light switch is up or down. If you say that you are “watching TV downstairs,” the switches will automatically turn off all upstairs lights.
Smart security camera
Home security is an important thing to consider and you can ensure it by connected security camera. It is a very reliable motion-detection that starts recording when it detects an object moving about. You can also access that recorded footage through your smartphone or tablet.It records high-quality video and audio, and is also able to identify the difference between residents, visitors, pets and burglars, and can notify homeowners if suspicious behaviour is detected.The camera can automatically record when you’re not home, or work at a time-based schedule for when you’re at work.
When you would like to check on your kids, pets or an exotic jewel collection a home security camera proves to be a great tool for keeping an eye on things when you are not actually there.
Not just a means to control devices plugged into it, smart plug can also monitor your energy usage and get estimates on how much powering certain devices in your home is going to cost. Smart plug also connects to a wide range of smart home platforms.
There are plenty of smart locks designed to completely replace your old lock in favour of a keypad or new keyhole.They can also detect when residents are near and unlock the doors for them. Some of the smart locks fit onto your existing deadbolt and allows you to keep using your old key whenever you want, while still providing you the benefits of a smarter lock.
Smart smoke detector
Fig. 5: Image Of Smoke detector
Smart smoke detector has in-built smoke alarms that can connect to the rest of your home. It will alert you if there is a fire enabling you to take timely steps.
This tool alerts you on your smart device when your grill is preheated, what the internal temperature is, and when your meat or fish is fully cooked.
Smart Recipe Bake
This smart device allows you to input what food ingredients you have, and then generate recipes with those items. The recipe can be autoscaled for the amount of people or even amount of ingredients you have. You can measure your ingredients as you pour them in – the smart bowl tells you when you can stop pouring.
Smart coffee maker can brew you a fresh cup as soon as your alarm goes off.
Smart Vacuum Cleaner
It integrates with smart home systems and other apps, offers a manual steering option, and cleans surfaces effortlessly.
Home automation has gained huge popularity with home owners due to its extensive suite of innovative and intelligent services that offer improved energy efficiency, comfort, control and ease of use. Smart technology also contributes to health and well-being enhancement by accommodating people with special needs, especially older people.
While the overall effect of smart devices is positive,you need to take certain safeguards to avoid any sort of risks when using such devices.
1. You should lock down cameras because Remote Access Tools and other similar malware enable criminals to see through the webcams of compromised smart home systems.So,you need to ensure that your home monitoring cameras are secure.
2. Nearly all smart home devices come with passwords. Change these default passwords for these devices on your smartphone or laptop manually or by utilizing the option of a password manager that can easily see and alter weak passwords.
3. Smart technologies are new in the market. It is essential to secure smart home devices to keep their software/firmware updated to the latest version available.
In this age of digitalisation, home automation at affordable pricing is fast becoming a global trend. With the current pace of technological advancements, this trend will rapidly evolve and many more smart features would attract demand among the end users. Although it has taken years to develop an innovative home set-up but the smart home concept has definitely arrived.
Engineers have a crucial role to play in the design and maintenance of these life-transforming devices. Their forte lies in building application-specific IoT communications methods to ensure seamless integrations between different sets of accessories leading to improvement in a user’s home automation experience. They need to create a better and simpler experience even for users who may not be technically proficient.