The practicalities of smart homes – IFSEC Global
Here, Valerie Caswell explores some of the practicalities of the smart home, and explains why security installers may be well placed to take advantage of a growing market.
Advancements in technology are slowly creeping into our everyday lives. It has affected and improved how we communicate, how we shop and how we get around. Society eagerly adopted smart phones which are now considered essential and have gradually gotten used to the idea of smart cars.
Now, the latest technological improvements have brought about the uprising of smart homes: residences kitted out with home automation systems. The knock on effect to the security sector, of course, revolves around the integration of smart cameras and smart doorbells, which many installers are now finding themselves fitting.
Despite the complexity, price and security issues of this technology, the popularity of the smart home sector continues to grow, so it’s worth developing an understanding of what moving into this market can offer your business. The world’s smart home market had a value of $55.65 billion in 2016, but is projected to reach $174.24 billion by 2025. As well, it has an expected CAGR of 13.52% for 2017 to 2025.
What are Home Automation Systems?
There aren’t necessarily any amazing new products or gadgets with home automation, instead it programmes smart versions of normal electronic home devices to be controlled by a remotely controllable network. Systems, appliances and electrical outlets will all be managed by a combination of hardware and software technologies that are compiled into a convenient user-friendly platform for the homeowner to access. It includes thermostats, sprinkler systems, lights, appliances, heating, air conditioning, smoke detectors and security systems. Control of these systems and more is available to the user from anywhere in the world at any time.
One of the most appealing aspects of switching to a smart home system is that it involves automation which is the option of programming the electronics and appliances in your home to operate on schedule. This ability means a home becomes more ergonomical and tailored exactly to the user’s needs.
A programmed schedule can include switching the heating on 15 minutes before you wake up so it’s not cold, or locking and unlocking the door each day to let in expected visitors. Smart Home Automation is designed to provide the maximum amount of comfort and convenience to homeowners so they can focus on the more important aspects of their lives without worrying if they left the lights on.
Appliances, electronics and systems can be managed and scheduled from anywhere in the world, usually from a mobile device app. The best part of this feature is that it completely puts homeowners minds at ease. Whilst on holiday, security cameras can be checked, alarms system armed, and lights turned on to ensure the safety of homes and possessions.
Remote control over home automation systems is reaching for optimum user convenience that’s only limited only by the need for an internet connection.
Cost of smart home technology
Currently, the convenience of home automation still comes with a hefty price tag. The overall cost includes various factors including the size and location of the home, the number of features that are included, the range of hardware selected and labour and installation costs. The last few years has seen home automation become more affordable, but a smart lightbulb is considerably more expensive than a normal lightbulb and the more smart appliances and features you add, the more the price builds up.
Many companies tend to offer tiers of package deals and in the higher ranges this can include all hardware, wiring and labour but will come with a very large invoice. This is a business option that security installers may want to consider when moving into the smart home sector.
With the programming and remote control of heating and electrical systems, homeowners can keep their energy consumption (and energy bills) to a minimum. Programmed schedules can be designed to be energy efficient by turning lighting on only at necessary times and keeping the thermostat to a set level. Some home automation systems even completely power down electrical devices when they are not in use.
As with the majority of new technology, getting used to it can take a bit of time. There will undoubtedly be a learning curve as users get used to the systems and the programmes before they feel fully comfortable with it. Having home automation requires constant access to a smart phone and the internet, which isn’t always possible.
10 essentials to consider as an installer with smart homes
Additionally, home automation has the potential to integrate into every aspect of the house, from opening blinds to switching on speakers, and users have to think carefully about how far they want to go with atomisation. Some people find that home automation isn’t for them and prefer to stick to traditional methods managing their household.
Pros and cons of smart homes
When it comes to accessibility, smart technology is king. With smart technology, you could clap or use your voice to close your blinds, for example, which almost anyone is able to do. This method of control is also safer – blinds that can be controlled by voice rather than by using traditional pullcords are substantially less likely to lead to fatalities in young children.
But with this ease of control comes security issues. Some smart home devices truly can be controlled by anyone, after all. Imagine if someone broke into your home by walking through the front door, playing a recording of your voice to the smart lock, or showing a photograph of your face to the iris scanner. Maybe they’d hijack your heating system, increasing the heat in your hallway to make your door’s lock more pliable, then open it with a safety pin. They could even climb in your window after noticing it being ajar through your public baby monitor camera. As smart devices develop, their security must match their development precisely, and as has been reported on IFSEC Global and the mainstream media recently, smart cameras and baby monitors are increasingly vulnerable to cyber attacks.
With the development of more and more smart devices, home automation seems limitless. The convenience of Smart homes is sure to become addictive and the future is guaranteed to see increasing numbers of people opting to join the smart home movement and leave the daily hassles of managing electrical appliances in the home to the programme. It’s a growing market, and one that is increasingly open for the security sector to take advantage of.
Valerie Caswell is a marketing professional at Gum essays and Lucky assignments.
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