You might just be using a smartphone, which is comparable to a small computer in your pocket, a smartwatch, a smart band, a smart living room lamp. That’s pretty much it. But smart home is just around the corner, and we all might start using them any time soon. There is no doubt, the full implementation of smart homes isn’t mainstream yet, and will take significant time for smart homes to be as popular as smartphones and smartwatches, you might have already heard this term, and know a little about it already. But if you aren’t, you might consider smart home to be a fancy new term!
What is a smart home? I will discuss this today here. I will talk about a few elements of smart home, how it is accomplished, and how it will make your life easier, in layman’s terms, as much as possible. A smart home isn’t a different type of home, built from something other than brick and mortar, but smart home, will eventually make your house, or more specifically a room within your brick and mortar house smart, and kind of automatic. The scopes of a smart home are unlimited, however, the full potential of a smart home hasn’t been unleashed fully yet.
A smart home is a home, where there will be multiple electronic gadgets or smart gadgets, which sounds fancier that will do its own limited set of tasks to accomplish a bigger task and make your life easier, in the long run. Needless to say, the gadgets should have the ability to make some decisions after talking with the other devices in its vicinity or within the room.
As all the elements of a smart home will do its own set of tasks, they will even communicate with each other through some common protocol, or multiple protocols through a gateway, to get the job done, as per the signals received. Smart home elements will even communicate with servers and smart gadgets outside the home to improve the precision or carry out certain tasks, which isn’t possible through communication between the gadgets within a smart home.
That is basically, what a smart home is. Now, before going into how smart homes work, let’s peep into some smart home gadgets, for your better understanding.
A few smart home gadgets or smart home elements
Talking about smart home gadgets, it can be any gadget, which has its own brain and has the ability to make its own decision. It can be your smartphone, a smart lamp, which can accept signals to turn on and off, or control the brightness, by reading or collecting time and brightness data from an external or internal clock, or from a brightness sensor that can sense whether it is day or night time.
As I mentioned the term sensors, the sensors play a very important role in making smart homes a reality. A sensor is a device that can accept or sense everyday human-perceivable parameters like temperature, brightness, sound, wind speed and convert them into equivalent electrical signals, which can be fed to the processor of any smart gadget so that some decisions can be made out of it. For example, your geyser can take the decision to turn on, if the temperature is below 20 degrees Celsius, as you might love taking a hot shower when the temperature is around 20 degrees Celsius. It is also possible that the sensor will sense the temperature and it will be fed to the geyser through some central hub eventually if there are many smart home gadgets in your home. I will talk about the importance of smart home hubs later here.
Even though smart home gadgets have their own brains to make decisions, it can even depend on the Central Hub for the same. We all know about Amazon Alexa and Google Home. What they do is just simple! They act as a central hub that can control all the smart appliances in your home by accepting commands from you or by getting the signals from the sensors, which are placed around or within your home.
How smart homes work?
As you now know about the different components and elements that make smart homes a reality, you might have understood how smart homes work. Talking about sensors, the sensors can sense some physical parameter, which is eventually is sent to the target device through the central hub or to the smart gadget directly in the form of electrical signals.
Now that Central hub has a list of commands to execute depending upon the inputs from the sensors available. After the signals are received, the signals are analyzed, and hence one or more functions are eventually carried out. Depending upon what exactly you want to do, your central hub or the smart home might collect data from multiple sensors at the same time for more complex decisions.
There are even some smart home elements for gadgets, which do not necessarily depend upon the central hub for it to work. For example, you can find the Philips Hue Smart LED lamps, which can easily be controlled by mobile phone as long as your mobile and the smart lamp is connected to the same Wi-Fi network.
What are smart home hubs?
Smart home hubs special gadgets, which can handle communication between multiple smart home gadgets at the same time. Let me explain what smart home hubs do with a simple example.
Let’s consider, there are 10 people sitting in a room who can communicate or talk with each other. As everybody can talk with each other, it will cause a lot of trouble, if everybody is trying to communicate at the very same time. Thus, if there is an 11th person, who can handle the communication between two people at a time, the problem will be resolved.
The same goes for smart home hubs. A smart home hub is a special type of hub, which can help you send signals to individual smart gadgets within your home, besides acting as a central hub to handle communication between multiple smart gadgets. As I already said, a smart home hub can also execute multiple commands by controlling several smart gadgets at once by accepting signals from multiple sensors. This is something, which is difficult to accomplish if there is no central hub that can handle multiple communications. Most smart hubs also come with extra features.
Amazon Alexa, Google Home Mini, and Google Home are some examples of smart home hubs, and each of them also doubles up as a smart speaker which relies on Amazon Prime Music and Google Play Music to play music respectively. Besides that, there are also some smart home hubs, which can display information on the screen and they are the Google Nest Hub by Google and Amazon Echo Spot by Amazon.
If you have a number of smart home gadgets in your room, and you often face problems associated with this connection drops, lags, and several other issues, a smart home gadget can help you unleash the full power of your smart home gadgets.
Smart homes and the internet
Smart home gadgets can even communicate with your smartphone when you are out of your home, GPS trackers and other elements to understand your location, so that the geysers, air conditioners, which is within your room can automatically get turned on when you are close to your home, so that you don’t have to return home and manually switch them on. For smart homes to connect to the internet, it is not always necessary for the individual smart gadgets to have its own internet connection. All the smart homes can get connected to your home Wi-Fi or the central smart home gadget or hub. The central hub should be able to connect to the internet and that will eventually take care of all the other smart gadgets by acting as a gateway to the internet.
As far as smart locks are considered, they can also depend upon your GPS location to automatically unlock your door. But for safety purposes, most smart locks will consider your presence, when it finds your mobile Bluetooth within the smart lock’s Bluetooth connection range. As Bluetooth has a short-range, your location can be sensed more precisely to unlock the door. On accepting signals from a GPS tracker there can be issues, and the GPS device might send false data.
Smart homes and machine to machine communication
You can know more about IoT and machine to machine communication here. Machine to machine communication, in simple words, is a direct communication between multiple machines so that it can work to accomplish a single or complex task. Talking about smart home gadgets, the concept of machine to machine communication plays an important role it is the bedrock for smart home to work properly.
For example, when your air conditioner is trying to track your location, it is communicating with your smartphone or GPS tracker through some smart home gadgets through the internet and that is an example of machine-to-machine communication which makes it possible for your air conditioner to make its own decisions.
Smart homes and artificial intelligence
Most smart homes today can take their own decision without getting command or information from you. That is achieved by getting information from a knowledge base that has information about how most other people use the same gadget for their own purposes.
For example, your air conditioner my automatically regulate the fan speeds by understanding the outside weather, or can automatically switch to monsoon mode when the humidity and the ambient temperature reaches a certain threshold. Air conditioner always works on your commands, but the smart home or your smart air conditioner already know when exactly most people would like to switch their air conditioner to the monsoon mode when the ambient temperature and humidity reaches a certain level. So depending upon this data, and multiple other data of the same kind, your air conditioner can be smart enough to make its own decisions. I just talked about an example, however, the same concept is also applicable for other smart gadgets, as well.
Your data to make homes smarter
When automatic decisions might make smart homes fancy, every good thing comes with a price tag. From time to time, your smart home gadgets or the central hub might send data to its own servers so that those data can be analyzed for giving you and others a better experience of using smart homes and making their smart homes even smarter, in the true sense of the term. Well, I know, you might think about privacy issues in this respect, but you can always control the amount of data that will be shared and choosing the most appropriate apps can even prevent your private data to be sent to the bad guys.
I will talk about the risks associated with smart homes in the coming days but I think the concept of smart homes is now completely clear to you. Smart gadgets for different purposes are not widely available in the market, but you can find the number of auxiliary gadgets, which can make your existing dumb gadgets smart.
Some gadgets to make your existing gadgets smart
For example, Google Chromecast and the Amazon Fire TV can convert your existing LCD TV into a smart TV. You can even find some specialized remote controls which can automatically control your air conditioner by collecting information from different sensors within your home all in the remote control itself.
I already talked about smart lamps, and the smartest lamp can even dim the brightness, when is your bedtime. How exactly the functions will work, completely depends upon how the OEMs to manufacture and build them. But with some proper advancements in the coming days, smart homes can undoubtedly push their limits and turn out to be a revolutionary technology in the history of mankind.
So that was all about what smart homes are! Do you have any more questions in mind? Feel free to comment on the same below.