Smart Homes

Smart Homes

You’ve heard of smart phones which, with their growing power and technology, allow us to to open a universe beyond calling and messaging. You’ve probably also heard of smart televisions, which can connect to the internet and even messaging services, alongside catering to your daily television needs. The first big shock was maybe the smart watch which, while telling the time, can also tell you the weather forecast and to send simple messages. Now there’s something new; the smart home.

Smart homes harness the power of handsfree technology to assist the user with day to day tasks. Rooms can be fitted with microphones which receive verbal instructions which are then digitally perceived and carried out. Instructions can be something simple such as lights on or dim lights, or they can be more complex such as requesting a particular song to be played on a speaker setup which is wired to the system. Instructions can be room specific, or apply to the whole house, for example, when playing a song, you can ask for it to be played in just one room, or throughout every room that the smart home technology is set up in.

The main functions include controlling media, moderating the temperature, adjusting the lights, and also security. These components create the basis on which the smart home is built, however there are new advances within these systems being developed. One example is the smart plug, which can be programmed to turn on and off, for example, after your phone is finished charging, and also to make it look like you’re still home while you’re travelling. There are also smart smoke and carbon dioxide detectors that can be programmed to detect a hazard, to alert the inhabitants of the home of the hazard and in which room it is in, and to turn on the lights in case of an emergency. The level of detail can potentially give you life saving information if a fire were to strike your home.

This technology not only makes day to day life considerably easier, but also can be a substantial help to those with disabilities who find simple movements difficult or tiring. While this is all very impressive, there are obviously a few concerns over the new technology. Firstly, when technology does half the work for you, owners of smart homes could potentially become lazy and reliant on the system. There is also the issue of security as, in this day and age, it is always a case of when the systems will be compromised and not if. While listening to your conversations through the microphone is terrifying enough, if you rely on digital technology to let you in and out of the house, naturally you want to be certain that nobody else can compromise the security of the system and to access your personal property. While we may be excited by all the new gadgetry and unique systems, we should focus more on how to keep it secure from digital threats as we develop it into the future.

There is huge potential to develop this further in the future. If your smart home can anticipate your arrival, it can potentially idealise the atmosphere by amending the lights and thermostat before you’ve opened the door. As more people are ordering their groceries on the internet, perhaps your refrigerator can detect what is missing and automatically order what you need. When developers factor in the data that we share with digital devices, even something as small as a location marker on a smartphone, they can develop technology that automates everything around our needs. Artificial intelligence is already being introduced to our daily lives, and, as it becomes more efficient, less manual labour will be needed in every aspect of our lives. Imagine coming home to an opening door which has detected your arrival, to a house that has been set with music, lights, and temperature to your favourite settings, to have a meal automatically cooked for you as you sit down to watch your favourite television show without lifting a finger. While it’s not quite a reality yet, the smart home is the beginning of this movement, and has the potential to change the world as we know it.