It’s hot outside and your sun-shades automatically descend; your phone rings when you’re not home to tell you someone is at the door; your heating switches on in winter when you’re five minutes from home; the fridge shops on your behalf when your milk is running low – these are all realities with smart home technology. Add networked entertainment, all angle security and any number of energy saving measures and you start to see the potential of smart homes, and why it is predicted that by 2020 an astonishing 31 billion devices will be linked to the internet!
So, when it comes to convenience, information and automation, we can safely say that advances in smart home technology have revolutionised the functionality of homes. But that’s not to say it has all been smooth sailing. As with any leap forward, there have been pitfalls and issues to contend with. However, with the right plan in place these issues can be greatly minimised or avoided all together.
Designing your smart home
The adage ‘if you fail to plan you plan to fail’ rings particularly true when it comes to the new frontier of smart homes. Given the evolving and competing technologies on offer, the available functionality and required integration, it is best to use the services of a specialist who can not only help you realise what you desire but can integrate these requirements with architects and builders at every stage of your new home build. Focusing on an end-to-end solution, specialists will not only design and build a system that works, but will cut down of the ‘eHousework’ required to keep the system functioning at optimum levels.
After detailing the functionality you would like to have, one of the major decisions is the eco-system you would like to command and control your devices. Apple, Amazon and Google all have eco-systems that link smart devices together, however they all come with some extra baggage. Google and Amazon use your data to better tailor products and services, which raises concerns over privacy, while Apple is also a promoter of their own hardware. Free platforms exist to link and manage devices and can be particularly useful if you are building a heterogeneous mix of devices; the downside being that multiple product vendors add complexity and sometimes confusion into your system.
If the thought of saving 40% on your heating and cooling bill is attractive while still having a perfectly regulated environment, smart heating and cooling may be the first stop of your smart home journey. Linking with blinds, curtains, lights and windows, your smart system can constantly monitor and adjust to the environment. Add voice and smart phone command and you can set the temperature on your commute home – perfect for winter and summer!
With smart lighting, traditional light bulbs are replaced with smart light bulbs that screw into the existing sockets in your home. An internet-connected hub can then connect to all bulbs, providing control over the lighting in your home from a centralised location. This allows you to remotely adjust the lighting in your home from anywhere, alter light levels automatically and schedule lighting routines.
You can now design a security program that focuses not only on keeping you safe, but offers access to those who require it, regardless of the layout of the property and the number of entry points. Not only can you install automatic doors, gates, and windows and have your smart home send you push notifications every time an access point opens or closes, you can also program magnetic locking doors to unlock the moment your smoke detector senses potential danger. In addition, you can live stream your front gate intercom to your tablet, install keypad locks that you can reprogram remotely and program your house for ‘mock’ occupancy when you go away.
Most smart speakers are powered by the same digital assistants used with smartphones such as Siri, Google Assistant and Cortana. Using natural language voice commands, these speakers can receive instructions, perform tasks and deliver information. State of the art speakers, often with their own visual displays, can stream music, control your TV, play games, shows news headlines and even play videos – some even double as phones!
For those on a budget, new-age plugs connect your old appliances to your smart home automation and voice control and prevent you having to outlay thousands of dollars on new appliances. Picking the right smart plug will require you to assess your home’s setup and the platform you use to control it all. Finding the right plug for your ecosystem is key.
If you’re considering including smart home technology into your new modular home, talk to our consultants and design team – they’ll be able to put forward suggestions based on your requirements and budget. Feel free to call us 03 9316 6000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss your project in greater detail.