The home automation industry is booming, and everyone is aboard the bandwagon. This technological advancement is being used by people more and more because they have realized how useful a smart device can be.
If you are wondering what home automation or smart devices are, then read on to know everything about smart technology, which includes the what and how of home automation, and which devices to purchase or avoid.
What Is A Smart Home?
Nowadays, almost everyone owns a smart device - a smartphone. A smartphone is smart because it can connect to the internet, and that is the only feature required to convert any normal device into a smart device - an internet connection. From a smart TV to a smart watch to a smart bulb, these are all internet-capable devices, which can be integrated seamlessly with your home automation hub and smartphone.
There are various levels of home automation. Some smart home enthusiasts can go to an extreme level and replace every item in their house with a smarter version like smart refrigerators, smart fans smart thermostat, or smart coffee machine. On the contrary, some people are subtle with their approach and choose to invest in only a few highly-practical smart devices.
The question that pops up is that why do all these devices need an internet connection at all? Is it really necessary for you to browse the web on your smartwatch or smart refrigerator? The answer is a subjective call. The main purpose of a smart home is not you reaching the internet via your devices, but your devices communicating with each other using their connectivity framework.
The "Internet of Things"
The Internet of Things, or more commonly known as IoT, is a phenomenon wherein multiple devices are integrated together and can communicate with each other. When these devices are connected wirelessly, they can pass information back and forth, and also receive and send commands. The latter part is the key reason why smart home trend exploded in demand.
Simply imagine if you could set the thermostat in your house by using a smartphone app, or turn the lights off just by tapping your smartwatch, or check if you locked the front door of the house even when you are kilometers away. Smart home devices made it all possible.
The Advantages and Risks of Smart Home Devices
Home automation and the Internet of Things can both improve your home and your life in radical ways. Numerous notable reasons for diving into the smart home trend include:
- Convenience — Smart devices make life easy and save labor for everyone in the house. There are a few gimmicky gadgets that you can avoid, but the convenience factor is worth it.
- Efficiency — Many smart devices can do tasks better and faster than their conventional counterparts. Using a smart device can free up your time to focus on things that matter more rather than doing monotonous chores.
- Entertainment — Smart devices like streaming audio/video players unlock forms of entertainment that you didn't use previously. Other smart devices like the smart light ecosystems are absolutely fun to customize and play with.
- Security — If used accurately, some smart devices can enhance home protection and safety against theft and property damage.
A smart home device like a thermostat is not only convenient but also saves money on your energy consumption. For example, a smart thermostat can observe and learn the behaviors of its users, like when they go out and come home; hence the thermostat adjusts the temperature of the home to an energy-efficient temperature up until the user is back. This process saves money as well as maintains the exact temperature for its users so that they don't have to input anything manually.
However, there are two main risks of having a smart home:
- Obsolescence — Since the home automation industry is still comparatively young, technology is still evolving. The machinery being used today may not be the same used in a couple of years. Additionally, if a company goes down, the devices may lose certain features as well.
- Security — A smart device that connects to the internet comes with the risk of being hacked. Information and data can be intercepted and snooped, and hackers can gain access to specific devices or even the entire hub system. Also, the devices can get infected with malware as well.
One argument states that some smart devices do not communicate with each other even on the same network. Some home automation tech companies use different integrating systems of communications, and consumers should have an application for each unique device rather than one application controlling them all. Experts argue that smart home technology is not worth investing in until companies manufacture better and smarter devices.
While some smart devices are convenient, they are not very practical for a household. Some tech experts question the need for a smart home and debate whether home automation is useful and necessary. However, this does not deter tech companies, and they continue to research and produce smart home technologies. As these smart devices evolve and continue communicating with each other via internet, more options will be available in the future.
Arindam Paul is a founding member of Atomberg Technologies, a startup working towards manufacturing unique energy efficient fans and tech savvy products. He is currently heading the Marketing and Long term strategy division at Atomberg and is aiming to disrupt the world of household appliances.