We use our home to live, work, and learn. It is the home base for our creativity, productivity, and happiness. As we get smarter, so do our homes. And it gets increasingly more complex to optimize the way we use them. If you work or learn at home, THIS IS THE ARTICLE FOR YOU.
How this article was written
I have a new course, which you can check dealing with home and lifestyle (Coupon: HOME80x80). Recently, our homes are used more for remote learning. So I asked Dayna Pike, an expert on smart homes to collaborate with me. This is the fruit of our collaboration. It is somewhat longer and more detailed than most articles we publish. Hope you will enjoy it.
Introduction into Smart Homes
Functionality and ergonomics of the surrounding space are the main trends of the 21st century. Automation of engineering systems allows us to optimize the costs of maintaining buildings and makes their rooms as comfortable as possible for a modern person’s life.
Imagine that on the way to work, you remember you didn’t turn off the water in the bathroom, left the garage open, or cannot remember whether you closed the front door or not? If only you could have a magic button which would solve such issues immediately! And now, we have such an opportunity – it is enough to make our home Smart.
Smart home technology makes it possible to make your living space as convenient, functional, and economical as possible in terms of energy consumption, with the ability to manage all household tasks using one device, even when you are at a great distance.
The introduction of Smart Home technologies raises many questions regarding their impact on human life. Moreover, analysts and users note not only positive but also negative points. The success of Smart Homes is fundamentally dependent on their adoption and use by people in the context of daily life.
The available options of the system are virtually limitless. This concept is much more than just a hobby or a trend: this is the future.
Pros and cons
Smart homes are marginally more expensive. The main costs we pay are defocusing and maintenance: we need to replace batteries or suffer some extra wires under the panels and equipment we cannot move, occasionally upgrade operation systems, and once in awhile replace old equipment with new alternatives.
This is not a high price to pay for living in a scifi dream. Artificial light syncs with our mood, smart consoles carry out our command when our hands are busy, and the ambiance is always perfect due to air conditioning and water. Somewhat noisy but otherwise helpful robots clean our floors, feed our cats, water plants, and do other things.
We have a remote control from everywhere on the face of the earth, and cameras if we forgot something or worry. Or if one of the kids slacks in his duties.
Development of Smart Home technology
The very concept of a Smart Home is not that young. In the early 70s of the last century, it appeared in the United States at the Institute of Intelligent Buildings. At that time, “Smart Home” meant “a building that provides efficient use of workspace …”. However, 1978 can be considered the year of birth of the modern Smart Home. In the United States, X10 USA and Leviton have developed and implemented technology for controlling household appliances using household power wires. For the end of the 70s, the X10 technology (this is the name that has remained with it to this day) was revolutionary. However, it was designed to support only six management commands and was mainly used to control electric lighting. But people wanted more. The Smart Home was supposed to get smarter.
Comfort and convenience: the ease of everyday life
Imagine waking up to find that your bathroom is already at the correct temperature and the blinds are already up at the set time. Imagine hosting guests in the evening and easily creating the desired atmosphere in the room with individual lighting, background music, and temperature at the touch of a button. Smart grids and automation technology make it easy to customize complex functions to suit your daily work: your needs are at the center of attention, and the technology only works for you.
For example, Smart Home can successfully control your HVAC system: air conditioning, heating, purification, humidification, and ventilation equipment. Temperature, humidity, and CO2 sensors allow the system to monitor the home climate, and the presence sensors will help automatically adjust it.
Besides creating home comfort, one of the Smart Home system’s primary purposes is to support safe and independent living at home. Monitoring technologies, such as emergency response systems, fall detection, energy management, security, and detecting incidents, provide a customized residential environment that tracks and records autonomously.
Despite this broad range of potential and assumed benefits of Smart Home technology, many people face problems in using these solutions. Basically, people desire to gain increased comfort and convenience through the smart home but realizing this goal can vary from individual to individual.
How the elderly, middle-aged, and singles live, and their state of health is inevitably different. Thus, the technologies and services they need are very different. The important thing is to determine their needs, and then apply and adapt the demanded and preferred technologies for everyday life.
How does the ambiance help our productivity?
Here are some ideas
When we use Zoom or Skype we may want to ensure the best possible background. Some people use libraries, green screens, walls with guitars, and so on. Bad illumination will generate bad light gradients and reflections, making the best corners ineffective. So will noisy equipment.
We can warm water, set up illumination, and activate air conditioning on the way home from work. This way, when we get home, we can immediately focus on the chores (food, emails, blogging…). No need to waste time feeling uncomfortable.
We need quality sleep and breathing to function. If the air is too dry or dusty, the bed cold or the lights in the wrong hue, we become less effective and do not really understand the root cause. For example, we need blue lights to be active and the warm yellow-red glow actually makes us sleepy.
We may worry about hardware backups, occasional flood damage, short circuits, and other things that can go wrong. Occasionally checking cameras will allow relax obsessive thoughts and focus on actual study or work.
Smart Home system appeared in the 70s of the last century and was initially considered a luxury. Still, over time, the innovation that seemed incredible began to enter the everyday life of the mass consumer firmly.
What kind of house can be called “Smart”? The whole concept of Smart Home is divided into several elements: safety, control of resources, technical security, and entertainment. Let’s look at each component separately.
Property protection: Remote access options of Smart Home technology are designed for confirmation that your house is entirely safe. The app on your smartphone informs you about what’s happening in your home and sends you notifications if network security devices and sensors detect any unusual activity. Statistics show that houses with installed security sensors and cameras and a motion sensor to turn on the light are much less susceptible to robberies. During long trips, Smart Home technology does everything so that your absence is not noticeable: turns on and off the light, moves and opens the blinds, turns on the TV, music. It seems to outsiders that there is someone at home.
Efficient energy control: Smart Home system provides remote control and automation features, making your house more energy-efficient. If you open windows, smart thermostats turn off the radiators. When you leave the house, some electrical appliances automatically switch to power saving mode or turn off completely. Temperature sensors, CO2 sensors, and smart weather stations work together to create the perfect indoor climate, allowing you to efficiently and economically manage energy consumption. By connecting Smart meters and local energy generation systems such as an electrical system or a heat pump, you can keep track of all your home’s energy consumption data. The system will quickly identify appliances in your home that are using excessive amounts of energy.
Technical security: The Smart system also helps protect your property from damage. Gas and smoke alarms immediately warn you of any detected problems. Window sensors tell you if the glass is broken, and humidity sensors tell you about any damage to pipes or areas of potential mold risk.
Despite this significant advantage, there is a downside. Since all Smart Home elements have access to the Internet, this makes them vulnerable to attacks from the outside and endangers the user’s information and his safety. It cannot be ruled out that as the number of smart devices grows, the number of hacks in control systems will also start to grow. Attackers who have gained access to such systems can use an electronic key to open a door or window, gain access to the bank accounts of residents of a smart home.
Comfort and entertainment: The fourth element of a Smart Home system is increased comfort, that is, the automation of actions that a person usually does on his own – from automatically turning on the lights to controlling the oven and dishwasher from the other end of the city thanks to smartphones and tablets. By setting up a multiroom system, you can remotely control all audio and video devices in the house: TVs, projectors, game consoles, players, music centers. This system can turn on and off the music, movies, and programs as you move from room to room, just like turning a light on and off. It will act as a DJ at your party. Moreover, it can put different music in different rooms. You can also adjust the volume in certain areas and even automatically mute the sound after 11 pm, when you go to bed or when you are talking on the phone.
A warm animal like a dog or a cat improves almost every home. So do plants.
Loneliness reduces motivation, and we need maximal positivity to learn and work properly. If you are not sure you can care for a pet, have your home help you.
Smart homes have animal feeders, plant watering, and monitoring, and so on. If we see that a pet misbehaves we can send a remote message and make it listen. This is very comfortable when we are in the working room and do not want to be bothered, at work, or traveling.
What are the elements of a smart home
- Computers and charging stations. A must. Never enough. Of every possible kind.
- Smart air conditioning. I have a fail-safe air conditioning: 5 rooms with 5 separate super-quiet and energy-efficient air conditioning systems. Others use central air conditioning with smarter controls.
- Illumination. A combination of monitors, remotely controlled Hue lights, Ryzen gaming equipment. If I need to learn or work till late at night, I use green and blue colors. When I want to sleep better, I switch to a yellow glow. For neutral situations, white is perfect.
- Sound. We have amps and surround in every room. Usually, the music is chosen per activity. I like very clean sounds and not very loud.
- iRobot cleaning…
- Stupid appliances. I have stupid refrigerators, dishwashers, ovens. I prefer entry-level industrial-grade equipment as it is virtually indestructible and very effective. It is not as smart as high-end consumer-grade stuff, but much more reliable. Sometimes being smart is NOT using the computers you do not need.
- Photography equipment. I use blue screens, cameras, light boxes, microphones. Usually, they are stored, but when I need them I deploy them.
- Negative space and smart storage. More about that in the future.
High tech at home
Some smart homes focus on energy efficiency, recycling or even energy generation via solar panels.
A Smart Home is a relatively complex high-tech system, but it can make life more comfortable. If you are haunted by thoughts about an unplugged iron or an open front door during your absence from the apartment, do not worry because smart gadgets will do everything for you.
Of course, it may seem that all the Smart Home system functions are superfluous, and we can do without them. But let us think about how many benefits these technologies will bring to the elderly and people with disabilities. Now you will be able to help your elder relatives being away from them.
The Smart Home budget depends on the number of built-in functions in the system, the set of equipment, and the project. This system is modular and expandable. You choose only those elements that you need. And if you want to add new functions to your home, you can easily do it. Today, every homeowner can afford to order a Smart system installation, or independently draw up a project, buy the necessary equipment, and assemble a Smart house. Now we are seeing more and more Canadian homeowners using smart home technology to make their lives easier & more efficient. And they didn’t regret this decision because Smart technology contributes to home comfort and peace of mind.
We cannot tell about all aspects of such an interesting and, no doubt, promising direction in technological development as automatic housing control in one text. Actually, such systems are being implemented now in private houses or apartments and, for example, in offices or industrial enterprises. Many experts believe that now we are only at the beginning of the road. Over time, most buildings will have a high degree of Smart automation. But for now, let’s use what we already have: fortunately, a Smart Home is a reality today.
Have a home fit for your family status
Young couples can have minimalistic design and game pieces.
As we have children, minimalism is replaced by storage, and a lot of our games either go to our kids or are stored.
Once kids grow and leave the home, pets and art take their space. We can play once again.
With age, we need increasingly more equipment simply for our comfort and safety. And this is also fine.
Our home helps us work and learn, play and rest. It is a reflection of who we are, and it changes as we change.
If you want to make your home comfortable and Smart, I will share all the useful information with you. Having extensive experience in Smart Home technologies, I will find the best solution for your house.