Equipping a smarthome has never been easier and more affordable. But where do you start? We examined a couple of solutions that allow you to start small and connect more devices later on . Let’s look together at a few scenarios and you can decide what works best for you.
Your home - W hat could be smart about it?
After watching an episode of Star Trek with Picard talking to Enterprise, we know what we want: an overqualified domestic servant that is able to fulfill all our wishes and even guess a couple we did not think about. If you believe this is strictly science fiction, you will be surprised at what is available right now on the market. The technology is not anywhere near to fulfilling its potential, but you can get satisfying results today.
What part of your home can be connected to your smart solution? The range of devices is mind boggling. Numerous startups are betting their future on finding the next astonishing gizmos. Established companies like Google and Apple are investing heavily in this area to bring about both devices and standards to unite them. Here is a very short list of examples:
- Thermostats: Nest Learning Thermostat
- Cameras: D-Link Wireless Pan & Tilt Day/Night Network Surveillance Camera
- Lights and switches: Philips Hue range of devices
- Locks: Yale Security Real Living Electronic Touch Screen Deadbolt
- Sensors: Samsung SmartThings Water Leak Sensor
What is smart is the ability of these devices to communicate with each other and with you and make decisions based on all this rich interaction. The first key question is what facilitates all this communication? This is not a trivial question because the myriad of smarthome devices use different standards. The house will not be that smart if your devices cannot "speak" to each other.
Your home revolves around t he hub
One approach is to provide a central hub that knows how to communicate with each device in its own standard. The hub also provides a central control point which makes it easier to coordinate all your smarthome devices. Hubs are being provided, for example, by Insteon , iControl Networks , Samsung SmartThings, Wink.
Photo: Home Controls
Most of the hubs will focus on their job of controlling everything else. Others incorporate other functions:
- iControl Networks Piper doubles up as a camera so you can already cross this off your shopping list. The downside is that you will be forced to position your hub wherever you need that camera which may be impractical.
- Logitech Harmony Hub focuses on home entertainment, having the ability to control almost any audio/video device.
- Amazon Echo delivers voice interaction and behaves like an electronic interpreter when dealing with the rest of your smarthome devices.
- Apple TV doubles up as a smarthome hub for devices that are compatible with HomeKit, the standard pushed by Apple in this area. The voice interaction with your home is enabled by Siri.
The hub is a good way to deal with current complex technologies. The downside is that your home will only be a s smart as your hub. This technology advances at such an astonishing pace that what today is the latest and the best can become dated in a few months. However, using a central hub is not the only way to go. There's also a "collective" way and to show you what we mean, we will go back to another Star Trek analogy: The Borg.