What Exactly Is A Smarthome?

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Interactive Consultant, Jazmin Butler, reviews the basics of the Smarthome Industry.

 


Are you waiting for the day when Rosie the Robot greets you at the front door when you get home?  Well, we aren’t quite in the era of commercially sold robot maids.  But our homes are getting smarter, thanks to the Smarthome industry.  This growing industry seems to be the path to the futuristic utopia often depicted in science fiction.

 

“This growing industry seems to be the path to the futuristic utopia often depicted in science fiction.”

One of my previous projects involved research and strategy for a Smarthome microsite.  The research shows that many people don’t know what a Smarthome is.  Lets look at the basics.

What does the Smarthome do?

Well, it enables you to connect devices and appliances in your home so they can communicate with each other as well as your mobile device.  When I say devices, I’m referring to lights, speakers, locks, and basically any device that plugs in.  This may sound like simple home automation, which has been around for a long time, but after smartphone home control became a thing back in 2010, the possibilities continue to be endless.

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Ok, picture this.  You wake up, put your feet on the floor, and suddenly Bob Marley (or another preferred artist) begins to play in every room.  The blinds open, your pet feeder dispenses breakfast for your dog Pookie, you smell fresh coffee being made, as you begin a productive wonderful day.  But wait, did you leave the iron plugged in?  Just check on your phone and take care of it right then and there. Midday, you look on your phone at your  livingroom video feed and see that your sister has come by to take Pookie for a walk.  All is well. After your day is complete, you pull up to your house, the door unlocks itself, your lights have been set to recreate an island sunset, and the temperature has been set exactly the way you like it.  *Sigh*

You have to love when things fall into place on their own.  It’s only going to get easier, faster, and more predictive as the tech community continues to explore.

Who’s Who?

First, there is the technology.  In the past, communication protocols (which is a system of digital rules for data exchange between computers) like X10, used power lines for signaling and control.  They’ve created alliances with electronics manufacturers, who actually build the end-user devices.

Then there are hubs.  Hubs like Revolv, Staples Connect, Smart Things, Quirky, and Belkin unify your home automation products under one app.  So, you can easily customize and modify your Smarthome experience.

A few brands have been dominant in this stage of the industry.  Take Nest for instance.  Their claim to fame is that it learns your temperature preferences, saves energy, and can be controlled from anywhere from your phone.

…”data collection” can be a scary and might remind you of any number of sci-fi thrillers but…at this point it’s being used to predict certain aspects of everyday life…

However, Smarthome is definitely more than apps and automation.  A big part of the appeal are the analytics capabilities.  The phrase “data collection” can be a scary and might remind you of any number of sci-fi thrillers but…at this point it’s being used to predict certain aspects of everyday life to increase comfort.  If there is a look of utter terror on your face, this high-tech life style probably isn’t for you.

Who is it for?

Well, early adopters are the Google Glass wearing, iPhone 12 carrying, Apple Keynote watching types.  According to a Transparency Market Research report, the home automation market is gaining mass appeal and is projected to be valued at 16.4 billion dollars by the year 2019.  Mass appeal would mean adoption by young professionals, families with kids, and even seniors citizens, who will likely shift to “in home aging” down the line.  Other high profile Smarthome brands include Dropcam and Hue.  I’m not going to go into how it works today, but they are a couple of the big hitters that are introducing the concept of a Smarthome to the general population.

Disclaimer

We have reached the disclaimer portion of our program.  Disclaimer number one:  product compatibility.  This industry is still in its infancy, so there isn’t a standard to apply to all products.  Until there is, we will just have to use different phone apps for different products.  The good news is hubs are the start of bridging products together.  For example, you can control your Smart Light bulbs as well as your Nest thermostat.

Disclaimer number two:  As I mentioned before, this lifestyle isn’t for the tech averse.  But in the way of innovation, certain technology becomes the standard.  Homes and even cities will become smarter.  10 years from now, if the only products they make are products for the Smarthome, those who aren’t crazy about this may have to conform down the line.  The final disclaimer is ease of installation.  I expect the Smarthome device installation market to skyrocket.  Installing Smarthome devices can be very complex.  But hey, sometimes things have to be hard in order to make progress.

Onyx Contributor:  Jazmin Butler
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