There’s no place like home, a statement that couldn’t be more true. The fact is, when we’re not working or running errands outside, we’re cosying up in our houses. You’ll probably agree that your home is the place where you’re most comfortable, surrounded by your family and everyday commodities.
You’ve no doubt got plenty of cool gadgets and appliances around your house, such as washing machines and televisions. This has been the situation for decades, and these essentials add convenience to our lives. But through the power of the Internet of Things, our homes are set to become smarter.
Watch any sci-fi flick, and there’ll be homes filled with futuristic treasures such as speaking fridges and robots that can do the washing up. While some of this tech may seem far-fetched, we’re actually entering a scenario where smart homes are becoming the norm.
Connected home systems have been around for a few years, but they’ve tended to be expensive and highly technical. This is all changing. You can now go out and buy internet-connected fridges and washing machines, and companies like Google and Amazon have launched affordable smart home systems.
Cameron Worth, founder of Internet of Things development agency SharpEnd, believes that the online and offline worlds are merging through the power of smart home technology. “The Internet of Things is already revolutionising the home with voice enabled personal assistants like the Amazon Echo. We’re seeing a total blurring between the online and offline worlds and the home is emerging as the key battleground with all the big players circling,” he says.
“Up until recently the IoT in a household context was just a fridge that can tell you when you’ve run out of milk. Thank god we’ve emerged from that terrible period in conversational history. Products like the Amazon Echo streamline how we shop for goods and services and represent a real value of connected technologies in the home.”
Smart home technology, Worth says, presents brands with a unique opportunity to provide consumers with innovative products and services to enrich their lives. “The opportunity for brands in this type of technology is to provide a service layer that adds value to the consumer’s life and the result is a totally new type of equity built around usefulness and context. Instead of spending a lot of money just trying to advertise to people, brands can now look at creating a deeper connection by behaving differently. Advertise less, behave better,” he says.
The smart home concept is still in the early stages, and people who own connected home systems are often classed as early adopters. Although this technology isn’t widespread just yet, more people are identifying the potential. As consumers, we look to technology to make our lives easier.
Matt Powell, editor of Broadband Genie, has done some research into this area. He found that the majority of consumers don’t currently possess smart home devices, but they’d get a plethora of benefits if they were to make an investment. This technology, he tells us, can help improve home security, energy and costs.
“A recent survey we carried out examining smart home usage found that 69% of people do not presently own any smart home devices. Yet among those who do, 76% say they have improved their home,” he tells us.
“As well as being fun gadgets, smart home gear can improve security and energy efficiency, and our survey suggests that the majority of people who invest in these devices will get value out of them. While many prospective owners in our survey are put off by cost, ease of use and security, manufacturers also face a challenge communicating the advantages of smart homes to skeptical consumers.”
Peter Huddleston, managing director of home networking specialists Devolo UK, says connected technology will introduce everyday automation and convenience into our homes . “By bringing a whole host of devices together, smart home technology facilitates automatized daily processes to deliver enhanced comfort and convenience,” he says.
“Aside from making daily activities such as control over heating, lighting and electrical devices smarter and simpler, smart technology enhances security in the home; using motion detecting devices and door and window contact sensors to alert you when unusual movement is detected.”
“Technology is also making homes smarter by improving energy efficiency. Smart thermostat devices that monitor and control your home’s temperature can reduce energy consumption and ultimately save on energy bills.”
Smart homes may seem futuristic, but the the Internet of Things is constantly advancing and more people are realising its benefits. This technology can make our everyday lives easier, and we’ll continue to see more of it over the next few years.