If you needed another reason to use your smartphone, here’s one: Your phone is increasingly becoming the remote control for your home. It can control everything from your door locks, to your security system, to what music is playing in each room.
There’s nothing new about home automation. Devices to control your thermostat, security system, and appliances have been around for years. But now a new set of open standards is turbo-charging home automation and pushing it into new territory.
It’s a simple equation: IoT + IFTTT + Smartphone = Smart Home. Here’s how it works and why you should make your home smarter.
Speaking the Same Language
That equation only adds up if every component speaks the same language, so a common communication protocol (IFTTT, Wi-Fi, etc.) is the lynchpin of the connected “smart home.” The “standard” is the language that these devices use to communicate with each other. It’s why your refrigerator reminds you to pick up milk, the thermostat turns up the heat when you’re on your way home, and the garage door sends an alert when it opens.
An open-source standard is like Esperanto for electronics: Without it, you need a separate controller or app for each device. Think about how home automation used to work. Garage door openers, timers, and automatic sprinkler systems all operated independently. Their proprietary operating systems weren’t designed for communication, only to do one task and, hopefully, do it well.
Today’s open-source protocols have changed that. The IoT (Internet of Things) uses IFTTT (If This, Then That) or a similar standard to communicate with smart phone apps. The result is a smart, automated, and remote-controlled home.
Water Your Lawn Only When Mother Nature Doesn’t
Who hasn’t rolled their eyes at the sight of a sprinkler system going full blast during a downpour? Waste is bad for both your bank account and the environment, so initially most smart home technologies focused on energy savings. For instance, smart thermostats allowed you to control your home’s temperature using a smartphone app. Some even learned your preferences over time and adjusted temperature settings without any guidance from you.
Many individual appliances now have their own smart thermostats. There’s no need to keep the hot water heater or hot tub turned up high while you’re away at work or on vacation. Just tap your phone app on the way home, tweak the temperature, and enjoy your hot shower or long, relaxing soak when you get home.
Smart irrigation systems are a tremendous step forward in efficiency and water conservation. A smart irrigation system can sense the weather and even the moisture content of the soil.During times of drought, use the app to set specific watering times and duration that comply with local conservation rules.
Convenience Is Just a Finger Tap Away
A quick walk through the local home improvement or appliance store highlights the growing popularity of smart home tools, the majority of which can be controlled via a voice-activated home assistant or smart phone app. For example:
- Smart light bulbs—Use your smart phone to turn lights on, off, dim them, even change the lighting color with smart bulbs. Buy carefully; they aren’t cheap, and you might need to purchase a special hub.
- Smart pet feeders—Fido and Fluffy need regular meals and don’t care about your busy schedule. Feed them automatically using a smart feeder. There are even smart aquarium feeders and monitors to keep Nemo fed and healthy.
- Smart outlets—Few people can invest in all-new smart appliances, but retrofitting regular outlets with smart technology is an affordable solution. Use your smartphone to turn appliances on or off, and monitor when electronics are in use. Are the kids watching TV instead of doing homework? Tap the app to turn it off.
Take Home Security to a Whole New Level
Versatile, portable, wireless home-security systems with remote monitoring via smartphone are quickly replacing old-school, wired security systems.Home automation lets you control your home from the couch, the office, or the beach. With smart home security, you can keep your home safe.
Look for a system like GetSafe Home Security, one that supports a variety of protocols: Nest, Z-Wave, Wi-Fi, IFTTT, etc. Maximize your flexibility and options with an open-source protocol like IFTTT. That will allow your security system to “talk” with many home voice assistants (like Amazon’s Echo). It also opens up far more options for system add-ons, because you aren’t locked into a single supplier.
Besides the obvious security features like security cameras and motion detectors, a smart security system can include components like smart doorbells and smart locks. With a smart doorbell, the would-be burglar casing your house will think you’re home.You can see who is knocking and even talk with them, all without being anywhere near your front door (or even in your house). A smartlock allows remote locking and unlocking. Give the housekeeper or pet-sitter access without giving them an actual key. Think about how easy it is to copy a key and consider how many might be floating around!
Wireless home security systems can be controlled from within your home or half a world away using a smartphone app. These systems and other smart home options are quickly turning the smartphone into the ultimate home improvement device, helping make homes more efficient, convenient, and secure.