A Brief History
The concept of home automation existed as early as the 1900s, not just in many science fiction stories and novels but also in households. Back then, the concept was merely automating chores such as washing clothes and dishes, cleaning floors, and vacuuming carpets. The appliances that belong to this home evolution are the electric-powered vacuum, washing machine, and dishwasher.
What about the remote control? Today it is used to control almost every household appliance (as part of the Internet of Things). But it originated in 1898 when Nikola Tesla created the first remote to control a toy boat.
The remote control is the first of many technological advances that followed. In fact, the term “smart home” was first coined in 1984. However, technology advanced slower than the ideation and concept of a home powered remotely by robotic appliances.
Building the Prototype
In the late 1990s, Bill Gates has just recently finished building his mansion, Xanadu 2.0. It’s a technological marvel and a futuristic home because of the integration of modern technology into it.
One of the most notable features was the special pins issued to the guests. The pins are actually trackers for sensors within the house. Each pin has a customized setting for each individual guest. It will automatically adjust the lighting, temperature, and music.
The value of the home was around $100M the time it was finished, roughly $150M today. This became the prototype of smart homes back in the 1990s. During that time, he built his home using computers and servers.
Fortunately, constructing a smart home today is not as expensive as Bill Gates’ prototype. You no longer need any of the computer and server infrastructure that Gates required. You just need a few hundred dollars of smart devices and the software to link these devices together. Furthermore, most of these devices are modular, which means that you don’t have to buy all of them at once.
Smart Homes Have Gone a Long Way
With the introduction of wireless technology, home appliances have changed drastically within the last decade. Today, home automation is just a part of what is now called a smart home.
Essentially, a smart home is composed of multiple automation products linked together. They are held together by a smart hub. An example of a smart hub is Amazon Echo. According to CIRP (Consumer Intelligence Research Partners), Amazon Echo has recently sold around 10 million units since its launch in 2014. With such a smart hub, you can easily link multiple smart appliances together.
Most people start automating their homes, or creating the proverbial smart home by using a smart hub to control their home’s artificial lighting. If you are interested in starting at this juncture, you need to buy a Wi-Fi-enabled smart hub as well the requisite number of light fixtures (also Wi-Fi-enabled) that can be linked to your hub.
Once both the hub and the lights have been correctly installed and the hub is connected to your home’s Wi-Fi, the next step is to link the bulbs to the hub. This combination is usually managed by an app (Android or iOS) that is installed on your smartphone or tablet.
Should you wish to switch on (or off) more than one light simultaneously, you will need to create a group and add all of these lights to the same group. Thus, you will be able to give the smart hub one instruction and the relevant unit of lights will activate or deactivate, depending on your direction.
It’s More Affordable than You Think
Currently, raw material costs, technological advances, as well as production costs of these smart appliances and other products have lowered noticeably. Consequently, increasing these machines and accessories’ availability and allowing smart technology to become a mainstream technology. Therefore, these levels of availability have made intelligent products affordable for the masses.
As a result, prosumers — a term coined from “professional consumers” — have started adopting house automation, pushing the technology to become mainstream and thus driving big companies to launch their own product line in this niche.
Priceless Convenience and Quality of Life
Imagine this scenario. Before your alarm wakes you up in the morning, your smart thermostat will slowly heat up your room. Your smart bulb will gradually increase its brightness to mimic the sunrise and help your circadian rhythm.
The coffee maker will automatically brew you a hot coffee, sending its aroma throughout the house. Your smart hot water geyser will pre-heat your bath water to your chosen temperature. So, you don’t have to wait for water to heat up when you are ready to take a bath or shower.
When you reach the kitchen, your smart TV would turn on to your favorite morning show. The smart fridge will assist you with your daily diet goals. This will allow you to get ready for work with the least fuss and inconvenience.
After leaving the house, your smart home will power down your home air condition system while activating your smart cameras. This is how a morning passes inside a smart home. You will be able to leave for work without worrying that your home is left unattended during the day.
How to Set It Up
For people with average to good technical skills, it can be pretty easy. However, not everyone would like to set up their own smart home; because just like any type of technology, for some, it can be intimidating. Additionally, it doesn’t make it easier to choose the right products for you with different companies offering their own spin on the current smart home appliance and electronics.
The good news is there are already property developers who are building new homes with connectivity in mind. For existing homes, services like AMP Smart are available to help you set up your own smart home. These companies offer both products and services to assist you in turning your place into a fully automated smart home.