The Good and Bad of Smart Homes

Arabnet - The Quarterly - - Technology -

Smart homes of­fer sev­eral ad­van­tages over con­ven­tional homes. To start with, home au­to­ma­tion sys­tems give home­own­ers the power to man­age sev­eral de­vices and ameni­ties in their home with the touch of a but­ton from wher­ever they are. They also al­low home­own­ers to watch CCTV footage from their smart­phone while at work, re­motely lock win­dows, doors and garages as well as pro­gram lights to flash on and off and re­ceive email, phone calls or text mes­sages from their alarm sys­tem. Yet per­haps one of the big­gest ben­e­fits of home au­to­ma­tion is en­ergy ef­fi­ciency. Through con­trolled tasks and en­ergy-ef­fi­cient ap­pli­ances that com­bine to save elec­tric­ity, wa­ter, and nat­u­ral gas, home­own­ers can re­duce the strain on nat­u­ral re­sources, re­duce their car­bon foot­print, and save any­where from 10% to 30% in en­ergy costs.

How­ever, there are some bar­ri­ers pre­vent­ing mass-mar­ket smart home adop­tion: high cost of im­ple­men­ta­tion, se­cu­rity and pri­vacy is­sues, lack of aware­ness and tech­no­log­i­cal frag­men­ta­tion/tech­ni­cal com­plex­ity. Cost is one of the pri­mary in­hibitors of smart home adop­tion. Smart home de­vices are gen­er­ally costlier than their non-smart coun­ter­parts, with sys­tems rang­ing in price from $10,000 to $100,000+. Switch­ing to a smart home also means pur­chas­ing other com­pat­i­ble smart home de­vices. Hack­ing is an­other is­sue smart home users may po­ten­tially face. This is a prob­lem for smart home users as all smart home de­vices rely on the internet to com­mu­ni­cate and op­er­ate ef­fi­ciently.

Fi­nally, com­pat­i­bil­ity be­tween de­vices is a ma­jor chal­lenge for smart home­own­ers. Since some de­vices don’t com­mu­ni­cate seam­lessly with oth­ers, or op­er­ate through dif­fer­ent pro­to­cols, choos­ing what de­vices to put to­gether in one home can be dif­fi­cult, lim­it­ing and frus­trat­ing for a con­sumer. There­fore, in or­der to fully har­ness the full po­ten­tial of smart home au­to­ma­tion, man­u­fac­tur­ers will have to de­velop tech­nolo­gies based on com­mon open stan­dards, a level of col­lab­o­ra­tion that may take some time.

De­spite the chal­lenges, with the sig­nif­i­cant growth in IOT prod­ucts and ap­pli­ca­tions, cost re­duc­tion mea­sures en­abled by tech­no­log­i­cal ad­vance­ments in home au­to­ma­tion sys­tems, and the grow­ing im­por­tance of home mon­i­tor­ing from re­mote lo­ca­tions along with the con­tin­u­ous ad­di­tion of new prod­ucts by lead­ing man­u­fac­tur­ers, the smart home mar­ket is set to grow sig­nif­i­cantly in func­tion­al­ity, sales and ex­pec­ta­tions. In just 40 years, com­plete home au­to­ma­tion sys­tems have gone from high-tech cu­riosi­ties to af­ford­able and ac­ces­si­ble mod­ern home con­ve­niences and the fu­ture is look­ing bright. With in­creas­ing con­nec­tiv­ity and more con­nected ob­jects, smart homes will be­come even more func­tional, and an­a­lysts ex­pect the num­ber of con­nected de­vices to reach be­tween 26 bil­lion and 30 bil­lion by 2020. Robots will also likely be­come fully in­te­grated into the smart home sys­tems of the fu­ture, manag­ing op­er­at­ing sys­tems as well pro­vid­ing as­sis­tance in man­ual tasks. Fi­nally, the smart home sys­tems of the fu­ture will likely in­cor­po­rate tech­nolo­gies that will learn con­sumer’s moods, pat­terns and be­hav­ior, and re­spond ac­cord­ingly. n

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