Automation. In a world which relies increasingly on machines and electronics to perform routine tasks, it’s become the ultimate end goal for many household appliances.
The idea of ‘smart’ houses, where the majority of electronic processes are connected and remotely controllable, is becoming increasingly popular, as is the growing ubiquity of internet-connected everyday devices – a concept often referred to as the ‘Internet of Things’ (Iot). So what are some of the leading features in today’s smart homes, and what can we expect in the future?
Turning lights on and off when we enter or exit a room is one of the most ubiquitous tasks in a modern home, as is the constant flicking on a bank of multiple switches to remember which light corresponds to each. A common innovation in new houses is the more efficient remote operation of lights, or even motion-sensors which detect whether or not rooms are occupied.
Lights around a house can be connected to a central control unit, such as a wall-mounted touchscreen, which can provide a visual outline of where each light is for much better control; this ease of turning off unused lights also pays dividends when it comes to your electricity bill.
This has to one of the most mundane and time-consuming things we do at home – whether it’s vacuuming, scrubbing dishes or washing clothes, cleaning is something that few people enjoy. Fortunately, the advent of connected devices is making even labour-intensive operations like these easier. Many washing machines, dryers and dishwashers now come with inbuilt digital controls and often boast internet connectivity. Not only does this interface allow a wider range of functions, some models are capable of being remotely operated by smartphone; one example is Samsung, which produces an app for their smartphones to facilitate this.
The advantages are significant: you can remotely start washing cycles to finish when you get home, or change a process that’s too consuming of time or energy. Another example is robotic vacuum cleaners, some of which can be remotely started and stopped, and even set on different programmable paths.
As much an off-the-shelf product as an inbuilt feature of a home, smart locks are a fairly recent innovation that promises a new level of convenience for both residents and guests. Smart locks are essentially electronic locks that can be remotely locked and unlocked via your smartphone. Some are designed to be built into the door as a replacement for traditional locks, whereas others can be installed directly on top of the existing bolt. They come either with Wi-Fi connectivity, which allows you to operate them remotely over the internet, or with a Bluetooth connection that connects to your phone when in range.
The advantage of a Wi-Fi model is that you can theoretically operate it from anywhere in the world if it’s connected to the internet. The downside of this is that it’s less secure than Bluetooth models, which only connect to devices with the right authentication, and are also more convenient in that they can unlock your door as soon as your phone is in range. Smart locks are a big step forward from a convenience point of view; they allow you to unlock your doors without ever turning a key, and they make it so much easier to let other people into your home – many models come with a dedicated smartphone app that you can use to send authentication codes to people.
Whether it’s a family visit, cleaners or tradespeople coming for a regular appointment or just a friend dropping by, you can grant them access to your home from anywhere, at any time. That’s pretty cool.
Inbuilt entertainment systems are some of the most widespread home technology with music, video and gaming having come a long way in recent years. Music innovations such as Sonos consist of speakers built into the ceiling of your home that are controlled via a wireless touchscreen remote, with a massive collection of songs available online for streaming. Many TVs now come with inbuilt Wi-Fi connectivity, allowing you to download movies and shows directly and stream video or music from your devices straight to your TV.
For appliances that aren’t connected, there are a number of streaming sticks (such as the Roku or Google’s Chromecast) which you can buy and simply plug into your TV to do the same thing. Entertainment in modern homes is becoming truly universal, and the convenience of accessing all these mediums has never been greater.
There are so many technological innovations that go into modern homes to make our lives easier, and the level of connection and operability in our devices is only going to increase. To find out more about what electronic products Australians like most, check out our star ratings.