One of the new trends in technology is the “smart home.” While the industry is still mostly in the “early adopter” phase, prices are coming down and availability is going up. Most of the smart home technology falls into one of five categories: home access, appliances, lighting and climate control, home communications, and home entertainment.
This category of smart home technology includes smart locks and smart garage door access. Many of these types of devices can be controlled from your smartphone, even remotely. While this can add convenience, be sure to look into the security features of the devices you’re thinking about buying. If your home access technology gets hacked, it can leave your home open to physical invasion as well.
There’s a relatively small but growing spectrum of smart appliances available these days. For example, LG has a line of smart appliances called smartThinQ™ that includes a refrigerator, range, and laundry system. They say that “smartThinQ appliances merge connectivity, convenience and performance like never before. And never before is now!” Their smartphone app can be used to keep track of the food in your fridge, change the start time for preset wash cycles, or even monitor your cooking progress.
Lighting and Climate Control
A broadly used smart home technology is in the lighting and climate control areas. New wireless lighting systems can integrate your lighting with shades, locks, climate control, and even music and video. You can program and personalize your lighting to create the perfect lighting for every occasion, all accessible at the touch of a button. Smart climate control allows you to control your HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) system from smart thermostats or your smartphone. You can monitor and set temperatures for each room, reduce HVAC use while you’re away, monitor your usage, and more.
Most smart home entertainment systems center around a smart TV, which is different from an Internet TV or Web TV. A smart TV has integrated Internet and Web 2.0 features and can provide online interactive media, Internet TV, on-demand streaming media, and home networking access. They are frequently connected to other network-connected interactive devices that use television-style display outputs, including Blu-ray players, game consoles, and others. These systems are often integrated into smartphone apps, allowing the user to control the system without keeping track of a myriad of remote controls.
Integrated, whole-house music and communication systems are gaining in popularity as well. These generally have a central control unit and room-by-room controls as desired, allowing you to communicate between rooms and have ambient background music from radio or a central music player. In large, upscale homes, these devices have become quite common. Again, many of these systems can be controlled right from your smartphone.
With new technology, there are always new security risks. It may be great to be able to turn on the heating from your couch or check your fridge from the grocery store, but not if it’s at the cost of security. The most important thing to do with new technology is to ask the provider about what systems and security features they have available.
Your home and personal security are going to be affected by these devices, so find out what level of security is built into the devices and always, always secure your home network that these devices use to access the Internet. Security for new technology always lags a little behind the new technology itself. So, if the security isn’t good enough yet, it might be better to use low-tech items until the security catches up to the technology.