A home is a place where you find shelter; feel comfort, and acceptance, and can portray your personality. Thus, it is dependent on qualities such as security, warmth, routines, healthy environments etc. A smart home is a type of home that can think for itself intelligently to create and adjust the dependent qualities of a home, to make it a shelter for the occupant.
A smart home is important for our well-being for the following reasons:
- Life can be busy, and this can make it hard to keep up with routines; a smart home can create triggers which remind of routines.
- Essential activities such as watering, heating, and lighting if not monitored leads to high living costs. A smart home can provide measuring, monitoring, starting and halting of these activities to lower living costs.
- Familiarity breeds contempt – you can be so used to your home that you care less about the security of important assets. A smart home can provide gadgets that watch and prevent the theft of your assets while you are not present.
In the past, setting up a smart home required a huge amount of effort, expertise, and costs. The invention required breaking into walls and interlacing them with many electric cables (see video). Consequently, it implies that only a few and the super-rich have access to smart homes.
The recent advances in smart technology have proved otherwise. The introduction of the internet of things, smart devices and smart controllers have replaced the need for expertise, breaking into walls with a huge number of cables. You just have to buy a smart device(s) and access to the internet to build a smart home. This implies fewer costs, access to the large population and also, and mobility of a smart home – you can move from one house to the next and still set up your pre-existing smart home.
A standalone smart device requires an internet connection, but a smart home requires an ecosystem (an interconnected array of compatible smart devices) with a hub as the control point. A hub can be a mobile app like the Google Home app or a physical device like the Bosch Home Controller, defined by the type of ecosystem you choose. It is the place where new devices can be added and removed from the ecosystem. It is the place that allows you to configure the devices to your preferences. Hence, it is the central point of the ecosystem.
An ecosystem is dependent on compatible smart devices, and this compatibility is judged by the type of voice assistant used in an ecosystem and not by the manufacturer of the ecosystem. This means that if you have a smart device that has Alexa as the voice assistant, a compatible smart device will be one with Alexa also as the voice assistant regardless of manufacturer.
Software companies such as Apple, Google and Amazon used to be the main manufacturers of ecosystems but in recent years, companies involved in the manufacture of home appliances such as Bosch and Ikea have developed their own ecosystems
; Bosch Smart Home and Ikea Home Smart. The advantage of the ecosystem created by these vendors over the tech companies is flexibility; these ecosystems are compatible with all the major voice assistants. Hence, they make integrations of ecosystems possible and huge numbers of smart devices can be available in a wider ecosystem. For instance, the Bosch Smart Home is compatible with Google Home, AppleKit and Alexa Home.
Therefore, having this knowledge the way to set up a smart home will be:
- Decide on the ecosystem you want.
- Conclude on the problems you want smart devices to solve – security, heating etc.
- Decide and purchase smart devices that solve the problems and
- Connect smart devices to the hub of the ecosystem.