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JUST HOW ‘SMART’ CAN HOMES GET?

A future where your appliances can ‘talk’ to each other to make life easier is already here.

Does your dog get lonely during the day? It might need a dog-friendly camera that lets your pup see you and hear your voice, and that you can trigger to throw treats across the room via your phone.

Or maybe next door’s cat is sneaking in and causing trouble? Keep it out of your kitchen by changing your cat flap to one with kitty Recognition technology, scanning the microchip of the cat entering, locking the door and sending you a notification if a cat that’s not yours tries to enter. Or do you need an internet sensor that tracks the acidic levels in your fish tank? And those are just the smart home gadgets for pets.

The smart home revolution is here, with weird and wonderful ways to connect the things in your house, so they can be watched, measured, moved, operated and automated for more control. From door handles to doorbells, fridges to kettles, and every conceivable appliance in between, the use of connected technology at home is beginning to change even the most basic way we live our lives.

HOW DOES A SMART HOME WORK?

Smart homes are underpinned by the technology behind the so-called Internet of Things or IoT. This describes the ability of objects and sensors to send messages to each other, rather than needing to be
directly communicated to and controlled by us.

At their simplest, the sensors allow objects to be turned off and on – ask Amazon’s Alexa and she can switch the light on in the kitchen while your hands are carrying the shopping. But more frequently, sensors are being bundled together to do different things.

There’s the fridge that alerts you when your milk is close to expiring and sends a snap to your phone so you can see at a glance what you need while at the shop. There are air conditioners that raise or lower the temperature in rooms where no motion has been detected for a period of time. There are smart beds that track your sleep, robot mops that can be deployed by voice, even WiFi-enabled barbecue tools that let you measure the temperature of the steak from your phone. Some of these tools are designed to work on their own, so by downloading an app for that appliance, you can adjust its performance from your phone.

But with the growing number of connected devices in a given household, many people prefer to control them all from a single platform known as a hub. A smart home hub can help your different devices talk to each other or create routines where different things happen at once — automatically putting on restful music and dimming the lights at 10pm each night, for example. Hubs with speakers attached, such as Amazon Echo and Google Home, add voice functionality, so you can issue instructions without having to touch a screen.

WHAT MAKES A SMART HOME A
CLEVER IDEA?

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