Smart homes are not a new concept by any means. The first home automation attempt, the ‘X10’ communication protocol, was released in 1975. It sent signal bursts to a home’s electronic wiring systems allowing outlets and switches to be programmed. As one might expect those early devices were not very reliable or successful, but they did lay the ground work for programmable devices of the future.
Today’s smart homes can be designed to be sensitive to the needs and wants of their owners and now require a higher level of technological expertise to set up.
A smart home is defined as a residence in which electronic devices or appliances can be controlled via a mobile or internet connected device from within the home or by remote control. The most common approach to setting up a smart home is to interconnect all devices to each other and use one access point as the control. This may be a laptop, tablet, or smartphone.
Functions include turning them on or off, setting temperatures and lighting levels. Some experts will call it ‘smart building’ or ‘home automation’. Recent adaptations allow for doors to be locked or unlocked remotely, thermostat settings to be raised, lowered or turned off and on, televisions and security cameras to be controlled, and even manipulating appliances.
The market for smart home automation has been growing exponentially over the past decade and global estimates project the current value of the industry overall at $80 billion. Some of the more interesting and relevant examples of smart home technology include smart locks and garage door openers that can be operated remotely, allowing access to the home, remotely controlled or customized smart lighting systems that adapt to the presence of individuals as they enter and leave a room, and smart feeding systems that tend to the needs of pet, lawn and plant care remotely. Some of the most interesting and valuable smart home devices can sense if pipes in the home are failing or freezing and can turn off water automatically to prevent flooding and excessive damage.