Tuesday, 12 July 2016

The Smart Home

A smart home is one in which the various electric and electronic appliances are wired up to a central computer control system so they can either be switched on and off at certain times (for example, heating can be set to come on automatically at 6:00AM on winter mornings) or if certain events happen (lights can be set to come on only when a photoelectric sensor detects that it's dark).
 These devices communicate with each other on your home network or via Bluetooth, doing things like sharing information, transferring files and digital media and providing remote access and control for domestic appliances.
Many connected home devices such as heating, lighting and security systems can be controlled remotely by a smartphone, tablet or computer, typically via an app.
 The most common connected devices are computers, games consoles and Smart TVs, but over the last few years the number and type of connected devices has expanded to include connected heating systems, lights, kettles, vacuum cleaners, scales and security cameras.
Accessories that can connect to the internet such as locks, door sensors and even babies’ dummies can be smartphone-controlled and typically use Bluetooth to connect to your smartphone.
Collectively, these devices are part of the Internet of Things.
 Many connected home devices can also be controlled remotely. Connected heating systems such as Nest’s Protect or British Gas’s Hive allow you to turn your heating on and off remotely using a phone, so if you get back home late one night you don’t waste money heating your house while you are away.
Connected home devices can also work together. Nest’s system includes a thermostat and the Nest Protect smoke/carbon monoxide detector, and if the latter detects a carbon monoxide leak, it will communicate with the thermostat to turn the heating off.
America is slightly ahead of the UK in terms of connected-home technology, Amazon Echo, an internet-connected hub that works with Alexa, a cloud-based voice system that can respond to voice commands.
Echo and Alexa work with smart home gadgets made by other companies. Using their voice, Ford owners can lock/unlock their car doors, Philips Hue users can dim their home lights or Nest owners can adjust the thermostat temperature.
If you're elderly or disabled, home automation systems like this can make all the difference to your quality of life, but they bring important benefits for the rest of us as well. Most obviously, they improve home security, comfort, and convenience. More importantly, if they incorporate energy monitors, such as thermostats, or sensors that cut the lights to unoccupied rooms, they can help you reduce household energy bills; automated systems such as Bye Bye Standby, which cut the power to appliances when they're not being used, can dramatically reduce the energy wasted by appliances such as washing machines, dishwashers, and TVs when they're not actually being used.

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