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Is your Home Smart?


With technology ever improving we maybe forgiven to often wonder at its sheer triumph and integration into mankind over the last hundred years, or even last few decades. In this article we look at the available technologies in the market and its effect on the consumers home environment, its pros and cons. By law of economics notably Moore's law has allowed for the affordability to the masses, and an enormous number of products are readily available to people of all income brackets. This article will explore the potential for the adoption of smart home, not of the future but for today!

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Smart home?

By now most of us have heard of or own smart phones, tablets and chances are smart motorways have vibrated through your ears at some time or another. However, a smart home? Is the ability to provide the owners/occupants with relevant information regarding their homes state and allows the user complete control by being connected to all devices installed remotely.

With control comes options, and the user can have the ability to use specifically made apps or integrated web sites that allows for control - remotely. Smart homes also feature preferences to the individual by understanding habits and behavioural patterns. In its relevant infancy it's no wonder brands are targeting people to help them realise the potential for the future of smart homes.

Privacy

Devices that have the capabilities to collect and exchange data brings it pros and cons. A Connected device will allow for home owners to configure their smart home according to their preferences, a learning computer that's sole task is making your life as stress free and pleasing as its potential allows.

It is likely to assume and has been stated by intelligent agencies foreign and domestic that these devices may well be used to identify individuals, as well as track and monitor behaviour. Google Home, Apple HomeKit and Amazon Echo are amongst the market leaders of innovation. The extent of the capabilities that these products has is remarkable. Being hooked into your boiler system and can control radiators and water heating listen to everything in the room, even give you monthly updates and advice for future usage such as when you can optimise your usage in an effort to save energy.

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The Amazon Echo amongst the leaders of capabilities has a built-in function named "Alexa". By asking Alexa to turn up the heating in the hall, Alexa will oblige. She will also tell jokes, inform you of your favourite sports results and live up to date information, convert inches to metres and so on. Although named Alexa the system can alter the word used to speak to the device. Currently Available in a black or white finish. There's also the potential for upgrades or add on's such as the Fitbit Aria bathroom scales that will tell you your weight when you want. Sadly, it cannot tell you the weight you may want to hear though so don't blame Alexa. But she can understand most of what you say.

There is an ethical debate surrounding authorities being able to access personal data and potentially can use this information as a tool for espionage. In the United States the FBI have openly admitted the single largest source of information are the social media sites, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to name a few. People document their lives and can state live videos or even pin point their precise location, all extremely valuable tools for police and security agencies to either use or abuse. Many believe that smart home technology will have the biggest impact on their lives in the next few years. The biggest concern moving forward was its privacy issues.

In the UK ownership of smart devices for the home are very slowly moving upwards however this is still merely a drop in the ocean to its true growth potential. When certain concerns over privacy issues are either tweaked or slowly adopted and integrated into people's homes there is an expected surge on the horizon for the smart home market to evolve.

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Now that price is becoming less of a concern and the technology is more readily available to the mass market people are very likely to adopt this technology into their homes just like they have the smart phone. As there are still privacy concerns with social media sites, and tracking information on the phone itself, this hasn't deterred people from using them. Now that smart technology is integrating with home appliances, the more consumers are willing to engage with the technology and benefit from its features.

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In terms of recent innovations that have looked to address the security concerns of consumers, today there are many affordable options to secure our home with either lights, sophisticated cameras that are remotely controlled and accessed via phones and mobile apps. The consumer has piece of mind when either sleeping at night or attending a dinner function that their home is being monitored and they will be updated should these conditions change.

Products

Innovative smart home technology devices we have selected below which have been created in recent months include:

Amazon Echo

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Like "Hey Siri" Say, "Alexa, turn up the heating in the hallway". Also tells jokes, informs you the latest up to date sports scores and results, convert inches to metres and so on. The multi-directional speakers in the Echo can be used for playing music too! Subscribe and have access to a whole library of music on demand.

Nest Learning Thermostat

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The Nest comes in several aluminium finishes, to give the modern sleek design. This can either be wall-mounted or placed on a portable stand which can cost a little extra. The system speaks wirelessly to your boiler and can control radiators and water heating. You can also turn heating and water on or off remotely via your smartphone!

Elgato Eve Energy

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A smart power switch - this has to be one of the simplest examples of a home automation system. This device plugs into your wall socket and then you can plug your television or games console, light or kettle or into the switch. It's easy to set up and it means you can turn the attached electrical device on and off remotely and even monitors electrical consumption. You will then be able to calculate the cost of the switch's usage, and highlight to your children the true cost of running their games consoles!

Google Home

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Like the Amazon Echo in looks and features such as "Okay, Google". If your familiar with Google's voice recognition on another device such as the Google phone application, then its fair to say you'll believe the technology is accurate. It'll play music, as the Echo does. It can also set timers and alarms, tell you the time and so on. As well as usual features you'd expect from a device like this such as set the temperature on your Nest thermostat, Samsung SmartThings and so on. It is also compatible with your smartphone, Apple and Android devices which is the new add ons and enhanced features can be accessed.

Like the idea of a Smart Home? Have you already some technologies in your home? Contact us and share your thoughts.

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