All about smart homes

Smart Homes

A smart home is a home that uses electronic devices connected to the internet. These devices are controlled by computer software, also known as an operating system or “OS”. Most modern homes have a few ‘smart’ devices, such as light bulbs and doorbells – but a smart home would have appliances, security systems, and entertainment all connected to the internet.

How are smart home operating systems installed?

A person holding a cell phone

The smart home operating system can be installed by the manufacturer of the appliances, or set up by a third-party developer – who would then have access to all devices connected to that OS. This means that developers have the potential for an enormous user base to develop their software for, and users get lots of benefits e.g.

Why are smart homes so expensive?

A hand holding a cellphone

A typical smart home consists of locks, lights, appliances, heating, cooling systems, etc. These can all be controlled by an OS – but this takes specialist software development. This makes the cost of entry high – which is why most users opt for a full-blown installation rather than piecemeal using new technologies.

Why are smart homes so popular?

One of the most common forms of a Smart Home is a surveillance system that allows you to check your home from anywhere in the world through an app on your phone. In recent years, camera technology has gotten much cheaper and smaller, allowing startups like Canary to create stand-alone devices that connect to an app.

The internet is also becoming much faster, allowing users to stream live video from their homes with minimum lag time. This makes it much easier to check up on pets or children who are home alone.

What are the privacy concerns of smart homes?

The most common privacy concern is that companies can intercept data from inside your home, leading to a loss of privacy. To counter these fears, many manufacturers have recently started encrypting data in transit and only keeping it in the cloud for a limited amount of time.

Another potential privacy issue is that if your devices are left unlocked, they could be hacked and used for illegal purposes. However, this tends to be an issue with any connected home device, and not just smart homes in particular. Smart Home developers tend to build security into their products from the very beginning – so we can expect these issues to become less and less of a problem in the near future.

What are some examples of smart homes?

Smart appliances, such as refrigerators and washing machines, have been around for years thanks to companies like Samsung and LG. However, they have been quite expensive – a sign that the technology is not yet fully mainstream.

Now, a new generation of home appliances has been released to take advantage of cheap cloud computing and artificial intelligence. Amazon’s Echo speaker is perhaps the most popular example at this point. It allows you to query internet search engines as well as control your smart devices from anywhere in the world.

Startups including Kuri and Mayfield Robotics are also creating robots that can help run your home. They work similarly to smart speakers, but instead of using a microphone, they use a camera to identify faces and interact with users in a more natural way.

Most notably however is the growing popularity of surveillance systems – which many homeowners install alongside a smart speaker to allow them to monitor their home from anywhere.

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