The Internet of Things, or IoT, has always been a naff description for one of the most exciting developments to happen in technology in a long time. For the uninitiated, the IoT relates to the vast number of devices worldwide that connect to the Internet across all industries.
It’s estimated that Australian homes will have close to 30 devices connected to the Internet by the end of this year. Phones, TVs, tablets, CCTV, lights, printers and consoles soon add up. And this is not surprising. According to Internet World Stats, 88 per cent of the Australian population has access to the Internet. And with more people connected, an area of IoT that is experiencing an exponential increase is the smart home.
Still a relatively nascent industry in consumer electronics, in the six or seven years it’s been established, the use of smart home technology in the house has grown exponentially. Once the realm of the early tech adopter, more and more households understand the benefits of living in a smart home.
Why is that? There are several reasons. Cost is always front and centre of every buying decision, and the price of smart home products has never been more accessible. You can pick up a smart colour bulb at JB for under $20 now!
“Once you go down the pathway of home automation, it’s hard to turn back…”
The other deciding factor is the ease of installation. Smart home products have always had an element of DIY. Set up through an app on a smartphone with step-by-step instructions, this is meat and potatoes for even the most ardent technophobe.
With so many of us spending more time at home now in a working capacity, the ability to streamline life through the implementation of smart home technology has also driven adoption rates through the roof. Smart displays and speakers are a wealth of information and suitable for schedule reminders, all accessed via simple voice commands. Energy costs and usage such as lighting can be monitored without even leaving the desk. With the increased prevalence of online shopping, deliveries can be effortlessly managed through a video doorbell.
Once you go down the pathway of home automation, it’s hard to turn back, and you’ll find yourself leaning on the technology as much as you do your smartphone. Try cooking from a recipe again without a smart display once you’ve owned one – it’s painful! This month, we will look at some of the newest trends and products recently landed at JB.
We’ve written extensively about the smart home over the last couple of years. However, if you’re not sure what the fuss is all about, here’s a brief overview of the smart home.
Pick an ecosystem
The smart home ecosystem is where the digital hub you choose communicates with all the smart devices in and around your home. The predominant three players here are Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, and Apple Homekit. Your choice here could very well be influenced by the existing virtual assistant you already use on a smartphone. These centralised management systems are competing businesses, so not all devices are compatible, so it’s worth checking the device you’re looking at buying will integrate into an existing smart home.
The digital hub where a smart home is controlled can be as budget-conscious as an Amazon Echo Dot smart speaker or a more advanced option such as the video-enabled Google Nest Hub Max.
Once linked into the home Wi-Fi, these smart hubs are a fount of knowledge to answer just about any question you ask, from local weather reports to a pumpkin soup recipe or the winner of the 1987 VFL Grand Final. With your ecosystem selected, download the relevant app, and this will be the nerve centre for bringing all your new smart devices online.
What can I add?
There are so many reasons to start a smart home ecosystem, and with new products lines landing regularly, there’s no shortage of options. Smart lighting is an excellent place to start, and the range of colours available to light your home – and indeed your garden – is mind-boggling. Cost-effective home security is another popular area in the smart home; wireless cameras and sensors are cheap and straightforward to install and can be managed remotely through a smartphone. Smart plugs will enable you to turn on just about any wired appliance in the house with an on/off switch with a simple voice command, and even garden irrigation can be activated while you’re away with a simple phone input.
A “scene” when it comes to smart home automation is a list of commands for your smart devices that are set up via your assistant’s smartphone app. It’s much like programming a computer – but far more straightforward. For example, you can set up a morning scene where with a simple voice command, the lights will go on, and a favourite song will kick start in your bedroom while you shower, the TV in the lounge will spring to life, ready with the latest news for when you make it that far and even the kettle will start boiling. Scenes can be set for when you get home at night or when you’re away on holiday and want to give the illusion that someone is home.
According to Google, the following are some of the most popular – and weirdest – things people ask:
– How do I get a new identity?
– How do I escape quicksand?
– Where are my keys?
– How do I win back my wife/husband?
– How do I stop time?
– How do I go to the toilet without my kids?
– How to survive an apocalypse?
– How to win an argument you’re losing?
– Why is your face on your head?