- Consumer Electronics & Personal Gadgets
The DIY Smart Home
Connected technology is not a new phenomenon. ARPANET, a data sharing network that introduced the world to an early concept of the internet, was introduced all the way back in 1969, using supercomputers to send and receive information. This was an era before personal computers even existed! The idea of ARPANET was to transmit information across vast expanses between governments and large corporations, but the internet was never imagined as something that an average person or even household would have access to. Times and technology have changed, however, and now most Canadians (76% according to the latest data) have supercomputers in their pockets in the form of smartphones. This means that technology has become more focused on personalized experiences for users, and not large entities like governments. Currently, the average home has about 10 internet connected devices, and that number is expected to skyrocket to between 30 and 50 by 2020! Those additional devices will, in large part, be part of fully connected smart homes, which will make daily life easier and more automated than ever before. And with the ease of use of connected devices, creating a smart home is now an easy DIY project for those with just a bit of technical savvy.
One of the largest growth areas for connected devices will be equipment that adds amazing new security features to the home. While security cameras are not new to a home environment, their integration into a home has never been more seamless. New security cameras now have motion sensing capabilities that will trigger a recording event. Traditional cameras record to a physical device, but new camera systems will record to a cloud, making the data much more secure. A physical device such as a Digital Video Recorder (DVR) allows for storage, it is also susceptible to tampering or theft since it has to be stored on site. Removing the physical media requirement for storage will keep data safe. New cameras also allow for 24/7 monitoring from a Smartphone or tablet, and can also send events (in the form of an email or text) to a user letting them know if there is activity in or around their home. Aside from cameras, the newest technology in security keypads and motion sensors allow for pictures to be captured from those devices through every arming and disarming or motion event of an alarm system.
Security is also at the heart of the new proliferation of smart locks. A smart lock will allow the homeowner to install a deadbolt on their door and give them the ability to unlock it from anywhere in the world from a smart phone. The implications of the device can be far reaching, as you can temporary access to your home to workers who need it (e.g., contractors or dog walkers), without the worry of tracking extra keys. This is because temporary access can be given and removed easily. A homeowner can also unlock their door with a keypad in most smart lock models, removing the need to keep keys in a pocket while going out for a jog.
Energy rates are continually climbing in most places in Canada, including rates more than doubling in the past decade in the province of Ontario. This means that consumers are now looking at ways to save on their hydro bill. While there are some great options available to consumers, including converting to solar energy, the first step most homes can take is to lower energy consumption. Time of Use (TOU) rates mean that homeowners can reduce their bills by lowering their hydro consumption during peak hours while they are out of the home. The easiest way to do this is through a smart thermostat. Smart thermostats allow homeowners to significantly turn down their home’s heating or cooling while they are out, saving energy costs. The temperature can be changed through a smartphone app, which means that
the homeowner will simply need to adjust the temperature on their way home to have a temperate house to come home to. Smart thermostats have become so easy to install that the average consumer can put one in their home in under 20 minutes.
Smart energy savings can also come with smart lights. This can be achieved through either smart lightbulbs or smart switches, which allow the homeowner to dim or turn off the lights when they are at home or away. As an added benefit, smart lights can help increase a home’s security through giving the impression that somebody is there even when they are not. Smart lights can literally be as easy to install as changing a lightbulb!
Connected devices have come a long way since their introduction through ARPANET. The next decade will see many new homes built with smart functionality in mind. This does not leave current homeowners without options; however, as anyone with a bit of technical knowhow can easily retrofit their home with any smart devices they want!