The concept of a smart home is something that is has brought about divided opinions since its conception and its consequent popularization. To some people it is a welcome development, to others it is a something that will add more technology pieces to an already over-saturated environment, while to another group, the term is either new or non-existent to them and as such, they don’t have a full grasp of what it means. The reality of the situation however, is that smart homes will continue to grow in popularity as the years go by. For the benefit of the group of people who don’t understand what it means, let’s now try to give an explanation as to what a smart home is.
What is a Smart Home Technology?
The concept of the smart home became more recurrent in the public domain as the concept of Internet of things became more popular. The internet of things talks about a world where devices, like humans, can communicate with each other and thereby make workflow between and among each other easier ultimately leading to an easier life. Smart home on its own part, talks about a home where most systems are automated and remotely monitored through an automation system that enables communication between appliances in your home. Imagine your door opening up automatically as you approach it, your coffee pot automatically starting to boil your water as the alarm clock rings to wake you for work or your washing machine detecting that it is a Saturday and immediately starting the laundry for you. This analogy gives an insight into what a smart home is; a home that is highly automated to ease all the manual effort that we put in to make our homes work smoothly.
Also branching out from the concept of internet of things is the concept of smart cities, intelligent transportation and smart world. But unlike Smart cities and Smart regions, the smart home does not need to wait for government and organizations to create policies, regulations and environments that are favorable before coming into existence. Individuals that are interested can actually create their own smart homes by a combination of devices that are now available to us.
How possible is the Smart home?
The smart home is very possible to achieve. As a matter of fact, several celebrities are already running their own smart homes. A popular example is Microsoft chief Bill Gates smart homes. Many people who could not afford the high-end smart home setup can now download an app on their phones and start basic automation with the help of affordable microcontrollers which can be bought on the market.
Pros of a smart home
People that have argued for smart homes have pointed out a number of advantages that come with it and chief among these are; accessibility, safety, cost effectiveness, control at your fingertips among others.
Accessibility talks about the amount of power that smart homes put in the hands of users. With the smart home automation system, people who could not have access to some tasks in the home will see more barriers being removed for them. The elderly and the disabled who hitherto, could not use the laundry machines due to the arduous task of having to walk to the machine to switch it on and off can now control it with their smart phones and computers or in some cases, their voices!
Since smart homes help you automate your home systems, it also helps you cut cost in the process. Take the example of someone who needs to go away on a journey but needs his security lights on so as to discourage intruders from trespassing on his property.
Normally you will have to leave the security lights on for the period of time you are away thereby racking up a huge light bill in the process. But with automation, you can decide when the lights come on and when they go off, thereby saving a lot of money in the process.
It is really suffice to say that smart homes put the control of your homes at your fingertips. You can now control your light switches, washing machines, tea pot, refrigerators and any other device that uses a network and has a sensor from any part of the world. If you are using the traditional central automation system or the web-based wireless controller, it still affords you the luxury of control at your fingertips.
Cons of a smart home
Like every other thing, the smart home comes with its own shares of disadvantages. The most noticeable ones are the cost of setting up a smart home initially, the challenge of using a smart home for a computer illiterate, and of course, the security threat that comes with the use of the technology.
Like I said earlier, Bill Gate spent a fortune in order to achieve his own smart home and even though it doesn’t necessarily have to cost you that much to set yours up, it is still guaranteed to leave a hole in your pocket if you are looking to set up a smart home that is truly functional. Unfortunately, it is not everyone that has this kind of spending power.
For people that do not know how to use technologies like smartphone and computers, the smart homes becomes a challenge to operate and something that was built to help make life easier for them becomes a liability to them.
Hacking has become a major security threat for people operating any computer technology around the world and the smart home is not exempted. And it becomes more dangerous when these devices in the smart home can actually communicate data; imagine someone hacking your laundry machine and getting access to your important documents on your PC! Someone could also hack your central automation system to switch off your security lights before coming in to steal.
The future of smart home technology
With its attendant advantages and disadvantages, I still think that smart homes are here to stay. The smart home technology offers the promise of a better world for us all. It is a world where the old and disabled will be able to live comfortably in a home where they won’t have to go through the stress of carrying out tasks manually, a world where machine learning will help our devices to learn more about us and our preferences in order to serve us better thereby increasing the quality of lives we live, smart homes promise a home where little errors will not leave us exposed to great risks.
True, smart home technology has its own loopholes, but as technology advances and people begin to embrace it more, the disadvantages will be minimized while the advantages will be capitalized upon. From where I sit, I can see that smart home is the future for a lot of us and those who don’t embrace it quickly will be left behind. Welcome to the future.