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What is a smart home?

Refrigerators that inform their owners when it’s time to buy more eggs and thermostats that learn homeowners’ heating and cooling preferences may once have seemed like futuristic ideas straight out of a sci-fi movie. However, such products are no longer a dream but a reality.

The term “smart home” refers to a residence that has appliances, HVAC, lighting, entertainment systems, security, and many more devices that communicate with one another. Such devices can be controlled remotely, according to SmartHomeUSA, an automation product retailer. Proponents of smart home technology say features can help people save money on utilities and conserve natural resources, all the while providing peace of mind to homeowners.

In 2016, 80 million smart home devices were delivered worldwide. That marks a 64 percent increase from 2015, according to the research data firm IHS Markit. The smart home trend is only expected to grow in coming years.

Although there’s interest in smart home technology, the industry remains fragmented. Consumers are trying to figure out which devices are simply fun and which provide practical benefits. Furthermore, the range of smart devices is expanding rapidly, making potential compatibility issues a concern. Companies that plan to educate consumers further about the advantages of smart home features and are open to standardization may have the best chances of survival.

Those interested in dabbling in some smart home technology and testing the waters may want to start with the following household items.

• Smart bulbs: Manufacturers offer various types of smart light bulbs. Some are colour-changing, others react to doorbells or alarms, and others can simulate typical lighting patterns when homeowners are away. Integrated apps enable remote access to scheduling so people can arrive home to a well-lit house.

• Home security: Wi-Fi enabled doorbells with video capabilities allow residents to see who is at the door without having to open it. Cameras can even be accessed remotely, simulating that someone is at home at all times. Never wonder if you’ve locked the door again with smart locks that can be engaged via a smartphone. Make sure that homes are secured or that pets are behaving while out with smart cameras.

• Flood sensor: Get peace of mind against damaging floods with Wi-Fi flood sensors.

• Appliances: A new breed of smart appliances can make it possible for users to turn on the washing machine while out of the house, close refrigerator doors from afar or even start their vacuum cleaners remotely.
Smart technology is taking over and is likely to continue changing the way people live and work.

-Metro Creative Services