Just a decade ago, garage door openers and baby monitors were considered cutting-edge home automation tools. How things have changed. Today’s open standards, voice-activated home assistants, and new home-security options, are changing the way we interact with our homes. These tools make it easier to automate everyday activities and keep our homes safe.
Open Standards Opened The Floodgates
In the “old days,” individual devices or systems used proprietary technology. The only way to expand the system or add functionality was to buy from the manufacturer. Some systems are still tied to this business model, like old-fashioned, wired home-security systems. Sure, you can purchase proprietary home automation hardware, but why?
The momentum has shifted towards smart home systems that easily connect with outside systems that can “talk” to all devices. Once home automation devices are compatible across platforms like watching TV, there are almost unlimited options to create custom applications for your home and devices.
Take IFTTT (If This, Then That): PC Magazine called it “the ultimate automation service for small tasks between Internet-connected services.” IFTTT-controlled events are called “recipes,” and the user sets the parameters. For example: IF I leave home without locking the door, THEN the system locks it for me.
Large media and service companies quickly realized IFTTT’s potential and created applets that encourage user interaction and brand loyalty. For example:
- Automatically save your Gmail attachments to your Dropbox account.
- Use Google calendar to track your work hours.
- Get nagging reminders from your Fitbit if you haven’t completed your daily exercise routine.
- Tell your GetSafe home security system to start the camera recording whenever someone opens the home safe.
- Set your littleBits remote pet feeder to feed the cats at 7 a.m. each day so you can sleep in.
This fast-growing market can dramatically change your relationship to your home, your family, and even your appliances.
Voice-Activated Home Assistants: No Longer Science Fiction
Who hasn’t become frustrated with a piece of equipment and shouted at it? Well, now some of them can talk back—and, judging from the popularity of Amazon’s Echo, people are fine with that. Perhaps it’s because most of these devices have human-sounding names and speak in soothing tones.
More likely it’s because they make life easier. Home assistants easily handle such mundane daily tasks as turning lights on and off, checking the day’s weather, supplying a traffic update before you head to work, acting as a home DJ with appropriate music selections, and setting a timer for dinner.
The two leading digital home assistants, Amazon Echo and Google Home, offer cross-functionality with a number of different systems and IFTTT-supporting devices. They offer a new set of possibilities for a truly connected smart home. Relax on the couch while you ask your device to adjust the thermostat, open the garage door, or set the security system.
It’s like having a teenager who is actually eager to help and never asks to borrow the car.
Smart Home Security for Your Smart Home
Voice-activated home assistants are just one option for controlling a connected home. The new generation of home-security options feature portable, wireless systems. A simple smartphone app offers remote access and control to your security system and connected devices.
Monitor your home from anywhere with a smart home system that uses a system hub connected to the internet. The hub communicates wirelessly with the system’s cameras, motion detectors, and sensors using wireless protocols like Z-Wave and Wi-Fi. Recently, systems like GetSafe Home Security have added support for IFTTT as well, allowing you to integrate a variety of devices and access them via your security system app.
Sure, that’s also possible with the home assistant—as long as you’re at home and able to talk. The remote control aspect is what makes smart home security such an attractive option for smart homes. You don’t have to be home to ask the assistant to “lock the back door;” just tap the app and it’s done.
These three trends—open standards, voice assistants, and smart home security—are really still in their infancy, but, every day, developers are releasing new applications. Benefits include more efficient home energy consumption, greater personal productivity, and safer homes for the IT beginner. No more extra trips to the store because you forgot to check the fridge before you left or worry about whether you really turned off the oven.
Home automation is the smart choice for the smart consumer.
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