What makes a smart home smart?
Home security systems, lighting timers and programmable thermostats are nothing new. In recent years those technologies have evolved, becoming integrated into comprehensive, Internet-connected systems that give you an unprecedented level of control when you’re away from home.
Home automation services like ADT PulseSM, Comcast’s XfinityTM Home and AT&T Digital LifeTM offer features like remote video monitoring, alarm alerts, appliance monitoring and much more. Using a smartphone or tablet app, you can keep an eye on what’s happening at your home, turn lights on and off, lock and unlock doors, and set your thermostat so the house is warm when you get home.
Forgot to close the garage door? What if your teenager loses the house keys? Not sure if you left the oven on? With a home automation system, these could be problems of the past.
The upside of this technology is obvious—it offers a tremendous amount of convenience and control. But, is it right for you?
Is a smart home system the smart choice for you?
The first thing to consider if you’re looking at a home automation system is cost. Like traditional home security systems, some providers charge monthly or annual fees to monitor and maintain home automation systems. They all require an Internet connection, and you’ll need a compatible smartphone or tablet in order to control the system remotely.
There are expenses associated with each of these components, so it is best to have a good idea of the total cost of a home automation system including the initial set-up and ongoing operation.
Imagine getting a text from your refrigerator.
In addition to whole-home automation systems, connected technologies are beginning to appear in a variety of home appliances. Some high-end appliance manufacturers now offer WiFi connected appliances, including refrigerators and washing machines, that allow remote monitoring and control through smartphone apps.
Imagine your fridge sending you a text telling you that you need milk. With today’s technology, it’s possible.
There’s even a water faucet filtration system on the horizon that will communicate with your smartphone and tell you what’s in your water, when to replace the filter and which filter is best for your water chemistry.
The possibilities of integrated home technology seem to be limited only by the imagination of product designers.
Your next coffee table could double as a giant tablet computer that functions as the digital hub for your entire home. New types of glass even hold the promise of turning your bathroom mirror into a touch-screen digital display. And the list goes on.
Whether you choose to install a smart home system in your home or not, it seems that the age of web-connected home technology is just beginning.