Over recent years the use of smart devices has slowly gained popularity in households. This should not come as a surprise because these devices offer ease and convenience, often enabling its users to manage multiple devices. These devices also help reduce energy consumption and electricity bills, as well as time.
Nowadays, there is a wide range of smart devices designed for home automation. These include home hubs and controllers, surveillance systems, automatic locks or security systems, heating and cooling systems, smart lighting, smart home appliances, health or fitness devices, smart outdoor gadgets and so much more. With each passing time, these devices are added with smarter features.
Today, we will talk about home automation and the latest technology being installed in homes.
What is home automation?
Home automation is a technology which allows you to control home devices from a mobile device no matter where you are in the world: whether you are inside your home or on a holiday in the Bahamas! This technology includes isolated devices like sprinkler systems and thermostats and devices such as appliances, lights, heating or cooling systems, CCTV cameras, automatic door locks, windows, and smoke detectors that are linked to a network that can be remotely controlled.
In the past, centrally controlled automated systems were only available in large commercial buildings and upscale homes. Building automation usually includes heating, cooling and lighting systems and primary control of these functions are only accessible on specific areas in the building.
How can I get started with home automation?
A lot of smart devices run on wireless communication protocols like Z-Wave, Zigbee or WiFi. Some systems entail setting up concealed physical wires throughout your home and connecting all the devices you want to automate. The wires then will be connected to the central hub.
Wired home automation systems are slowly losing favour because installing wires throughout your home is an additional cost. Aside from that, troubleshooting these systems can be quite complicated.
Wireless systems, on the other hand, are very easy to set up. Device consolidation and device compatibility is usually not an issue, making it the preferred option for those considering home automation.
One of the major decisions you have to make is choosing the ‘hub’ or central controlling unit of your home automation system. The hub controls your devices no matter what wireless communication protocol they run on. So whether your lights run on Zigbee or your thermostat runs on WiFi, you can control both of them on your hub.
You can program certain features or functions on your hub. This will allow you to control the doors whenever somebody is calling for you, be notified whenever the motion sensors detect some movement in the garage or close the window whenever the sunlight is too bright.
Although you can use different applications to control your devices, it is advisable to use a hub to reduce the complexity of controlling many smart devices. As soon as all your devices are consolidated on the hub, the sensors of your smart devices will determine your lifestyle and behavioural patterns and work together to give you a seamless operation.
Here are some of the standards that you should consider when choosing a home automation hub.
- Wireless Network. The hub must be able to support frequently used wireless communication protocols like WiFi, Z-Wave, Zigbee and etc. This will allow you to easily consolidate all smart devices with different brands and different range of capabilities.
- Allocated App Manager. Your hub must have an app manager that is compatible with your smartphone’s operating system. This will help you manage and control your smart devices even if you are away from home. The app manager will also help you adjust the features and functions of your smart devices such as scheduling when the lights would turn on or off, programming the airconditioning to turn on when a certain temperature is reached or schedule your windows to close at dusk.
- Capacity to Expand. Aside from having an app manager, your hub must be able to accommodate and control several devices, as well as the capability to receive additional devices if you decide to add more smart devices in the future.
- Notifications. Your home automation system must be able to notify you through messages or calls whenever unwanted activities are detected.
New state-of-the-art technology that is being installed in homes
- Smart Home Hubs and Controllers. Some devices work as a Bluetooth speaker and allow you to control your smart devices using the sound of your voice. These are powered by voice assistants like Alexa and Siri. Other devices work as a hub with the capability of connecting the latest home automation devices, a hub that works just like a remote control (with push buttons of course), a smart outlet that can control small appliances or monitor the energy usage of these devices and as a WiFi-powered power strip.
- Smart Home Surveillance Cameras. The latest surveillance cameras can now stream and record videos in 4K, zoom in automatically, track motion, built-in spotlight, detect sound, connect with emergency services in one click, record time-lapse videos, offer a wider field of view and video doorbells.
- Smart Locks and Home Security Systems. Smart Locks and Home Security Systems. The latest locks and security systems can now be connected to Z-Wave and Wi-Fi. They can also be controlled through voice commands. 24/7 monitoring can be enabled and excellent customer support is often bundled with this service. Another great feature is it can notify you when there is an intruder or when there is smoke, fire or flood.
- Smart Heating and Cooling. The latest thermostats now offer a furnace monitor, multimedia support, larger display, improved audio components, user-friendly interface, remote temperature control, geofencing support, additional third-party support, and easy setup process. New airconditioning units are out with voice control as well!
- Smart Lighting. The most recent smart lighting technology will not only allow you to control the intensity of the light: you can choose from the millions of colours already installed in its system. Most of them can support voice command using Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, as well as connect with IFTTT applets. Smart light switches can now be connected to Wi-Fi and controlled through a mobile app. It can also tell you the news, sports scores, weather, play your favourite music and even control other smart devices. How wonderful is that?
- Smart Kitchen Appliances. If you think you’re no good at the kitchen, these smart kitchen appliances will tell you otherwise. A Wi-Fi-enabled smart grill can control cooking temperatures and prevent flare-ups. A smart baking scale will help you bake like a pro by telling you how much ingredients you need while a smart microwave can take voice commands from you!
- Smart Vacuums. Aside from having Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant voice control, the latest smart vacuums can now deliver a stronger clean, multistory mapping, adaptive camera-based navigation, longer battery life and manual steering. Other vacuuming robots can even mop the floor too!