Every time you turn around, there’s something “smart” being invented–smart phones, smart cars, and even smart watches. And many high tech devices that were once unattainable for the general public, have now become de rigueur. We are lucky enough to live in an era of convenience, when innovative minds across the globe strive to make life easier for everyone. Here’s a new smart for you: smart homes. Home automation helps make life safer and more comfortable for homeowners and their guests, and it’s even crucial to advancements in care for the elderly and the disabled. If you aren’t familiar yet with smart homes and home automation, you’re in for a treat. You know the phrase “everything but the kitchen sink?” Well, even that can be smart! Read on to find out more.
How many times have you stood at the front door to your home, juggling groceries and kids or fumbling with your keys in the dark? Now there’s a way to make life just a little bit easier by allowing your to unlock your front door without having to reach into your pocket or search through your purse for the key. Enter the smart lock—an electromechanical lock that works by wireless protocol. Think of your car’s keyless entry system. Smart locks on a home work in a similar manner, using either a key fob or a smartphone app. One of the best parts? There’s no need to make extra copies of your house key and hand them out to friends and family members. You can give guests access to your home via their smartphones as well. Even better: if you’ve locked yourself out of the house or lost your key, a smart lock can be controlled virtually, taking away the need to rekey a deadbolt. Smart locks can also check a lock’s status and send instant notifications to the homeowner. Most can be retrofitted to fit existing single cylinder deadbolts, so installation doesn’t have to be too difficult. We know your next question, because it’s one we had as well. What happens if the power goes out? Two words: battery backup.
Smart security systems are also attainable for most households now. Home automation combined with a security system allows homeowners the confidence of safety whether they are at home, at work, or away on vacation. With a smart security system, users can check out their surveillance systems, lock or unlock doors and windows, and receive notification of unauthorized movement via the Internet or smartphone. Notifications can also be sent if someone enters or exits the house, if the garage door is left ajar, or if there is a leak (gas, water, carbon monoxide, etc.) in the house. A smart security system can also make it look like someone is home by alternating lights in various rooms or controlling window coverings.
Smart lighting is another brilliant feature of the smart home. This is beneficial for comfort, convenience, and energy efficiency. Motion sensor lights are no big technological advancement; they’ve been around for a long time now. But smart lighting does so much more than switch on or off when it senses movement. Homeowners can program these lighting systems based on a time cycle or set them to turn off when a room has been unoccupied for a certain amount of time. Other systems can be electronically controlled for brightness or hue depending on different tasks. For example, dim mood lighting for dinnertime or bright light for nighttime reading. Related to smart lighting systems are special window shades and draperies that adjust to let in or keep out natural light, depending on the time of day and room occupancy.
Appliance manufacturers have come a long way over just the last decade. Everything from the fridge to the coffee pot has been adapted for the smart home. Refrigerators can send alerts to change filters or to let you know if the temperature is too warm. Some models with ice and water dispensers have gotten digital upgrades that can even measure out specific amounts. Higher end models can even sense the types of foods inside and measure their freshness. Smart dishwashers can sense how dirty a load of dishes is and adjust the wash cycle or water temperature accordingly. They will also send a notification to your integrated phone app to let you remind you that the dishwasher needs unloading. For the caffeine-oriented (like the team at Pink Verbena), there are even Wi-Fi enabled coffee makers that can be operated by smartphone apps as well.
Pardon us for using a cliché, but the future is now. These categories are just a sampling of the technological advances that make up the smart home. What are some of the best—or even weirdest—smart home features you’ve seen lately?