How is Smart Home Now Becoming a Reality?

Today, controlling almost every facet of a home using voice or smartphone is not just science fiction anymore. It’s the Internet of Things (IoT) and it is a key component of home automation and smart homes. The recent advancements in smart and connected home technology have impelled beyond the astonishingly expensive and involved custom integration of the past where a luxury home afforded to only the fortunate few, but now entered the mainstream.

A part of IoT, smart home systems and devices often run together, sharing users’ usage data among themselves and automating actions based on the homeowners’ preferences.

The Origin of Smart Home

When a communication protocol for home automation, X10 was released in 1975, the smart home concept came to life. The protocol sends 120 kHz radio frequency bursts of digital information onto a home’s existing electric wiring to programmable outlets or switches. These signals then carry commands to corresponding devices, controlling how and when the devices operate. For instance, a transmitter could send a signal along the house’s electric wiring, influencing a device to turn on at a specific time.

With the passing days, companies tried well into the home automation field for smart homes. And in 2005, Insteon, a CA-based home automation hardware and software developer, introduced technology that combined electric wiring with wireless signals. Additionally, other protocols, such as Zigbee and Z-Wave, have since evolved to counter the issues prone to X10. Though X10 remains an extensively installed communications protocol to this day.

In 2010, Nest Labs was founded and a year later, it released its first smart product, the Nest Learning Thermostat. Currently, companies like Amazon, Apple and Google have introduced their own smart home products and domotics platforms, including Amazon Echo, Apple HomeKit and Google Home.

Smart Home in Reality

These days nearly every aspect of life where technology has entered the domestic space has seen the introduction of a smart home alternative. Now, TVs can be connected through the internet to access content using applications, such as on-demand video and music. These smart TVs also include voice or gesture recognition.

Smart lighting systems, in addition to being controlled remotely and customized, can adjust the lights as needed in a room with detecting whether occupants are inside or not. Some smart lightings can also regulate themselves based on daylight availability.

Smart thermostats like Nest Labs’ Nest, come with integrated Wi-Fi, enabling users to schedule, monitor and remotely control home temperatures. Also, these devices can learn homeowners’ behaviors and automatically modify settings to provide inhabitants with maximum comfort and efficiency. With the emergence of smart locks and garage-door openers, users can now grant or deny access to visitors. These smart locks can also spot when residents are near and unlock the doors for them.

Using smart security cameras, residents can monitor their homes all the time, even when they are on vacation. In addition, smart motion sensors are also able to recognize the difference between residents, visitors, pets and burglars, and can notify authorities if distrustful behavior is identified.

Smart home technologies also entered into the homes’ kitchen, with smart coffee makers that can brew a fresh cup once a person’s alarm goes off; smart refrigerators that keep track of expiration dates, prepare shopping lists or even make recipes based on ingredients currently on hand. Smart Kitchen appliances also include slower cookers and toasters; and, in the laundry room, washing machines and dryers.

Many of the new generation of smart home technologies are also coming to the markets, offering convenience to the residents or homeowners at a lower cost.