Turning any Home into a Smart Home

Smart Home

Raising its IQ is easier than ever!

A seamless, completely connected home is still in the future. However, the technology exists now to turn any home into a smart home—or at least a smarter one. From entry-level, app-based devices and voice-based AI hubs to next-gen kitchen appliances and robotics, today’s home can be VERY smart.

The buzzword smart is everywhere. But how it’s used is far from standard. Therefore, when talking to your customers, you need to determine what THEY think the term means.

Defining terms: smart vs. automated

Some equate smart with automated. The definitions are open to interpretation, but here’s our take…

A smart device means it uses Internet and/or Wi-Fi connectivity and an app. Essentially, it’s a Wi-Fi connected version of a regular device, with an app as the means to control or partially control the device. The app is downloaded onto a smartphone or tablet. One example is a smart light bulb. A smart TV comes with a variety of apps built in. Therefore, it can browse the Internet, with newer models often integrating voice assistants.

The term smart can also be used for devices that interact and even learn from the user’s behavior—often called Artificial Intelligence, or AI. Smart hubs like Alexa and Google Assistant use voice recognition. Other devices rely on machine learning to silently gauge a user’s behavior. They then adjust programming to match—like the Nest smart thermostat.

So, any home with one or more smart devices can be considered a Smart Home.

Automation has a central controller that regulates everything—no Internet required. Automated homes have been around for years. The focus has been A/V systems, lighting, shades, home security and workplace solutions. Connectivity has been through hard wiring, ZigBee, Z-Wave and other non-Internet technologies.

But, with the advent of smart devices and smart hubs along with next-gen automation, look for a melding of automated with smart. When that finally happens, a Smart Home will also be an Automated Home.

The Smart Home market

The 2018 US Smart Home market is expected to reach $18.88 billion with 32% household penetration. By 2022, household penetration estimates are 53.1% with a market value of $32.8 billion!

There are now smart devices for every room of home. Regardless of your store’s focus, there’s probably at least one smart device you can carry.

Smart devices for the kitchen

The Smart Kitchen is here! Whether it can prevent a meal-prep disaster remains to be seen.

  • Refrigerators from LG and Samsung display the interior contents without opening the door.
  • For a less expensive option, the Smarter FridgeCam from Britain can fit inside any refrigerator.
  • The Whirlpool Smart All-in-One Washer/Dryer combo links to a smart hub and is due out this summer.
  • Wi-Fi-enabled microwaves and ovens work with apps to help cook food correctly.
  • Smart small appliances like pressure cookers, coffee machines and scales are also rolling out.
  • The race to create the perfect personal robot is underway. Could Rosie the robot from The Jetsons be far behind?

Smart devices for the bedroom

Smart tech for the bedroom is wide-ranging. As a result, all of it promises a better night’s sleep.

Smart devices for the living space

Smart TVs are just the beginning. So, it’s easy to fill a family’s living space with a number of smart devices.

  • Smart outlets control light fixtures and other small electronics for added security, convenience and energy savings.
  • Thermostats keep the home comfy while saving on utility bills.
  • Smart ceiling fans are here! Consequently, they can help keep living space more comfortable and contribute to reduced energy costs.
  • Light bulbs set the mood and can also save on energy costs.
  • Smart detectors combine an HD camera, smoke detector, motion detector and siren into a single, user-friendly device.
  • Smart sound systems connect with a variety of devices to fill not only the living room but multiple rooms with music.
  • Remotes control media options with ease.
  • And robotic smart vacuum cleaners clean up spilled popcorn after movie night!

Smart devices for the outdoors

Security and smart go hand in hand. Smart devices make it easier than ever to keep tabs on property and loved ones.

Can the Smart Home revolution survive the smart wars?

As more and more devices communicate with each other as well as the wider world through the Internet of Things (IoT), control by a single hub will be possible. But, as smart as current products are, they can’t all be controlled by the same smart hub platform!

Furthermore, Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and Apple HomeKit, plus many others, are competing for this lucrative market. Consequently, manufacturers rolling out new smart products must choose sides. As a result, this makes a consumer’s decision about Smart Home integration more difficult.

Fortunately, there are periodically updated sites that keep track of what device works with which assistant: Apple HomeKit, Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. Do a search of your own as well, because more sites will certainly pop up in the future.

In conclusion, until there’s a single platform that works with all digital assistants, use your smart-home smarts to guide your customers to a Smart Home that meets their needs and future-proofs their smart-device investments.

Test Your Smart Home IQ!

Here’s a fun quiz. Can you get all 4 right?

1. AI

a. Apple Influence network to communicate with all Apple-based devices

b. Artificial Intelligence that combines voice recognition, machine learning or both

c. Just a marketing buzzword that doesn’t really mean anything

2. IFTTT

a. Same thing as IoT

b. Sound a tire makes when it loses air

c. If This Then That applet to create multiple actions after a first event is triggered

3. Gateway

a. Connects home or business network to the Internet

b. Another word for geofencing

c. An electronically latching gate

4. Domotics

a. Robots for home use

b. Robots for demolition use

c. Another fancy name for home automation

Quiz answers

1. b, 2. c, 3. a, 4. c

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