Smart systems are slowly but surely making their way into our homes, and what 25 years ago was considered fiction is now firmly embedded in our everyday lives.
Remember the bachelor pad of Corben Dallas, the protagonist of Besson’s 1997 “The Fifth Element”? The smart alarm clock that knows when the owner needs to go to work, the smart lock without the classic key, and the voice assistant that can both order pizza and alert you to a breakdown. At the time, we thought it was just a figment of a talented filmmaker’s imagination.
Today we’re going to talk about the smart home. We’ll talk about how it works, what it can do, and why its popularity has grown.
What is a smart home system?
In the classic sense, the “smart home” is a single information system, all parts of which interact with each other as a whole. Elements and household items are interconnected and controlled by a single control center, i.e. an artificial intelligence, like Jarvis, the virtual butler of Tony Stark from the movie “Iron Man. The control center automates household processes and is responsible for aspects such as: lighting, thermoregulation, safety and comfort. It can make coffee and draw a bath just in time for you to wake up, or call the police if a burglar breaks into the house. Or analyze the amount of food in the fridge and place your own orders in the store. The task of the homeowner is just to install and set up his “butler” correctly.
A truly canonical smart home is too complicated to install. It is laid down at the design stage of the house, and it is expensive to buy all the components and install. Let’s take a closer look at what goes into smart devices and how they function.
How it works
The set for a “smart” house consists of a controller (control hub) and several sensors. Usually there are no more than five. The hub works via Wi-Fi. So it controls the sensors, and they, in turn, collect information from the external environment and transmit to the main controller. Sets of devices that are on the market are quite single-tasking – you won’t find a system to control everything. Each of them has a clearly defined functionality. For example, only lighting or control of household appliances.
Some devices are mains-powered, and some are wireless battery-powered. In the first case, be prepared for malfunctions after power surges, while in the second case, do not forget to charge the batteries in time. The systems can be controlled using the buttons on the control unit, a remote control or an app on your smartphone. And if you still want to combine your devices under one umbrella, try a “smart” remote or speaker. They integrate easily with almost all devices.
What a smart home can do
“What do I need all these gadgets in my apartment for?” – you ask. And we’ll answer: “For your comfort and safety. In fact, the list of features of smart devices is wide. Let’s take a look at the main and most popular functions.
A smart security system will not only protect your home from unauthorized entry by third parties. Its sensitive sensors can help detect
- a gas leak;
Then, depending on your settings, the controller will either send a notification to your phone or call the police, fire department, or emergency services. The functionality of particularly advanced sets includes:
- lock management – locks locks and opening on command;
- lighting – the device controls the lighting when no one is home, thus simulating the presence of the owners;
- multimedia control – forbidden channels are blocked on TV when children are present.
You can install sensors, smart outlets, lamps throughout the apartment and forget what a switch is. The system can be customized to your tastes:
- to turn the lights on at 8 a.m. and off at 11 a.m;
- or when you walk into a room;
- or by voice command and pressing a button on your smartphone.
According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, this approach reduces energy costs by about 40 percent.
Electric appliance control
The main task of this system is to maximize user comfort. With its help, you can, for example, set the time when you will be absent. The controller will turn off all appliances while no one is home, and when you return it will turn on the coffee machine. You can start a robot vacuum cleaner or a dishwasher and boil water in the kettle directly from your smartphone while you are at work. Or set a timer, and the same robot itself will start cleaning every day at a strictly defined time.
Rather difficult to install, but a useful option. The system keeps a sharp eye on the temperature in the room: it gives you heat if it’s too cold in the rooms, or turns on the air conditioner if the temperature has risen above normal. If no one is home, the controller turns off all appliances. As with lighting, this reduces gas and electricity costs and saves money for more enjoyable expenses.
Reasons for the increase in sales
The reason for this strong growth, analysts saw not anywhere, but in the very covid-19 epidemic that swooped in in 2020 and put us all in our homes. Trapped within four walls, people began to think about their comfort and look for solutions that would make confinement a little more enjoyable. After all, it’s great when the light turns on by itself, it is only necessary to go into the kitchen, and the smart speaker tells jokes and helps to choose a movie for the evening. Another category of recluse, who hid from the ubiquitous infection in the country houses, also interested in the “smart” system, but in a different way. For weeks, empty apartments could become easy prey to intruders. Therefore, people began to install alarm systems, motion detectors and cameras that allowed them to monitor the situation in the house remotely.
The quarantine ended and the systems remained – people tried the comfortable life and began to recommend the “smart” house to their friends and relatives.
Advantages and disadvantages
At last let’s briefly discuss pros and cons of smart home system, which it has, as well as any other innovative technology.
- significant savings on the cost of utilities;
- automation of routine and, as a consequence, free time that can be spent on your favorite hobby;
- additional protection.
- high price – even the Chinese components are several times more expensive than their “nonintellectual” counterparts;
- possible failures – the system operation is tied to a Wi-Fi connection. If your provider has an accident and the Internet in the house loses, most of the functions will stop working.