The term “smart home” is being thrown around more frequently than ever before as more gadgets and devices enter the consumer market every year, but what makes a home a smart home? What basic gadgets should someone interested in upgrading their house look at? This article will break down the various facets of a smart home so that readers can understand how smart homes came to enjoy such a wide consumer base and what smart gadgets will be a great start to improving the quality of living in the households.
Origins of the Term
The origin of the term “smart house” dates back to the 1980s when the American Association of Home Builders used it to describe an idealized residence where household tasks are automated by robots. Although technology was still too expensive and slow at that time to make such an ideal home anything but fantasy, the development of faster, consumer-oriented computers in the 1990s began paving the way.
As society became more mobile and prices on consumer electronics dropped, a smart home became more of a reality in the early 2000s. Technology such as computer-controlled thermostat systems, automated lights, and security systems became available and affordable to the public. The technology after 2010 has been focused on the integration of various systems into a single app so that household functions can be controlled remotely.
Types of Devices
Many different types of smart devices are now available to consumers. Here are some basic ones:
- Smart voice assistants: Smart voice assistants include Apple’s Siri, Google Assistant and Amazon’s Alexa. Voice assistants allow you to control your smart gadgets through voice command.
- Smart entertainment: Smart entertainment can include speakers, entertainment systems and gaming systems.
- Smart security: Smart security systems are probably some of the top-selling smart technology. From smart video cameras to smart door locks to video doorbells, you can check who is on your property from your phone at work.
- Smart household devices: Smart house devices range from smart vacuum cleaners to smart thermostats to smart microwaves.
Integration is one of the main issues when it comes to building up the smart device network of your home. Many companies produce smart devices, so compatibility between the app, the voice assistant and the device itself is a major factor to ensure your smart system works seamlessly. Devices that cannot be synced to other devices or to mobile applications are only working at half their potential.
Not all security systems are smart or work with all other systems, so it can be easy to get confused. The easiest way to get started is by first choosing the voice assistant you prefer and then building your smart house system up based on your voice assistant’s compatibility list. Another way is to select the major system you want to integrate, such as a specific brand of home security, and then tailor the remaining gadgets around it.
Data security and privacy have been large topics recently, especially concerning data usage and app permissions. While smart gadgets can make our lives much simpler, it is also important to understand the power of gadgets that can hear and learn about us. Every time people interact with smart devices, they are sharing information about themselves. Ultimately, how a user shares private data is up to the individual; however, smart device users should read and understand how their data will be shared and used and if there are any optional privacy settings available. For example, both Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa have opt-in privacy features that are disabled by default and require manual activation.
The convenience of smart devices can really help free up your time to focus on more important tasks. However, many people can be skeptical about trying new technology. They might assume new technology has a steep learning curve. While some products such as a full security system require some installation knowledge, many other gadgets are consumer-friendly and easy to set up. Other components are ready to use out of the box with minimal installation such as installing an app, syncing the device or following the on-screen directions.
With the influx of smart devices and gadgets on the market, users can easily get set up and ready to go in minutes. The advantages of having smart devices are innumerable. They can greatly enhance our day-to-day life and take the guesswork out of situations such as wondering if the stove was turned off. More smart devices are expected to enter the market in the coming years, increasing our options and lowering consumer prices.
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