The In­ter­con­nected Home of To­day

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Once a home­owner has cho­sen the pro­to­col of their choice, they can start pur­chas­ing com­pat­i­ble smart home de­vices or a smart hub. Smart hubs pro­vide a cen­tral hub to man­age and mon­i­tor one’s smart home, and are de­signed for home­own­ers who al­ready have or are con­sid­er­ing buy­ing mul­ti­ple, con­nected de­vices. Smart hubs fun­nel all de­vices into a sin­gle in­ter­face and come in a va­ri­ety of dif­fer­ent pack­ages. Home­own­ers can buy just a hub and add their pre­ferred gad­gets, or pur­chase starter kits that come with var­i­ous sen­sors and ex­tras included.

While the ma­jor­ity of smart home prod­ucts have been con­trolled by smart­phones or hubs, the new­est trend to hit the mar­ket, is voice-ac­ti­vated per­sonal as­sis­tants. Ama­zon’s Echo and Echo Dot smart speak­ers, which are out­lets for the com­pany’s Alexa AI as­sis­tant, were first launched in the US in 2015 and 2016, and re­cently, Google also launched its own com­peti­tor ‘Google Home’, pow­ered by the search com­pany’s As­sis­tant AI. While Ama­zon’s Echo is cur­rently ahead due to its broader skill set, third party sup­port and larger num­ber of con­nected ser­vices, Google Home is quickly clos­ing the gap and it won’t be long be­fore it in­te­grates with more smart home plat­forms, more Google ser­vices, and gets bet­ter at un­der­stand­ing con­text as a con­ver­sa­tional as­sis­tant.

As for smart home de­vices, which cover a wide va­ri­ety of prod­ucts, most fall un­der the fol­low­ing three cat­e­gories:


Smart ap­pli­ances, gad­gets, and fix­tures: Sev­eral com­pa­nies have started launch­ing smart ap­pli­ances, fix­tures and gad­gets that in­clude fea­tures such as re­mote control and mon­i­tor­ing. While some give home­own­ers the abil­ity to turn the ap­pli­ance on or off, or ad­just and mon­i­tor set­tings, oth­ers can adapt to suit a user and their home. Smart/con­nected ap­pli­ances and fix­tures in­clude wash­ing ma­chines, dish­wash­ers, ovens fridges, toi­lets and show­ers whereas smart gad­gets in­clude ro­bot vac­uum clean­ers, kettles and cof­fee ma­chines.


En­ergy and light­ing: Smart ther­mostats, which put home­own­ers in control of their heat­ing and elec­tric­ity, claim to help home­own­ers save money on their en­ergy bills and the same ap­plies for smart ra­di­a­tor con­trols. Smart light­ing sys­tems mean home­own­ers can turn their lights on and off from wher­ever they are, help­ing them save en­ergy, as well as dim them or change col­ors. Some can also be sched­uled ahead of time to suit a user’s rou­tine or for se­cu­rity pur­poses.


Se­cu­rity mea­sures: Many se­cu­rity de­vices can be bought on their own or as part of a smart se­cu­rity sys­tem or a hub that en­ables home­own­ers to con­nect a num­ber of dif­fer­ent de­vices that in­clude smart cam­eras, smoke alarms, sen­sors, bur­glar alarms and locks. A smart se­cu­rity sys­tem is a bur­glar alarm (with mo­tion sen­sors) and a wire­less cam­era in one with the abil­ity to con­nect to a smart­phone or tablet.

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