Futuristic Utopia Is Here | Smart Home Technologies

Based on Director of Operations Juston Western’s talk on Smart Home Technology at TechStreet

Follow him on Twitter @justonwestern

Imagine this scenario: Your alarm clock rings and you wake up. You want to check on your kids in the other room so you click a button on your smartphone. That one click allows you to see that your kids are still sound asleep. Realizing that you have some time before work, you decide to get up and go for a run. You put on your Nike fuelband and head out for a run around the neighborhood. Once you finish the run, you sync your information with your smartphone so that you are able to track your workout progress. After that, you decide to take a shower and get ready for work. Once you’re ready to go, you receive a message on your Pebble watch and realize that you have received a message from work. The meeting that was scheduled for this morning has been delayed. You have a couple minutes so you decide to check the weather and traffic for your commute. Since you’ve misplaced the remote, you decide to turn on the TV with your smartphone. You easily navigate to a local news channel and find the weather and traffic information you need. Once it is time to leave, you get in your car and turn on a device that tracks your speed and commute. You want to make sure that you’re not wasting gas by speeding or hard braking. You’re able to reach work on time and attend the meeting. This scenario already contains some hints of how some people already live, but can become a common reality as additional smart home technologies are created and adopted by more people in the future.


Enabling Technologies

What technology is behind the smart home boom? There are various enabling technologies such as Bluetooth low energy, the 802.11AC wi-fi, automation protocols, Gigabit ISPs (Google fiber), and voice and motion recognition technology like the Xbox. Bluetooth enables you to send short bursts of data in order to trigger specific events in your house. 802.11AC is the next generation wi-fi that can create a beam in your house in order to decrease the frequency of having a bad signal in certain areas. With the 802.11AC, you can get the right amount of speed and bandwidth needed to enable your applications.


Some automation protocols such as the Insteon and ZigBee have served as the foundation of the home automation movement for decades. These protocols helped devices communicate with each other inside your house. Another technology enabling the smart home boom is the Gigabit ISP, with Google fiber being the most well-known. These ISPs allow you to push your information up to the cloud and not worry about having your bandwidth constrained. With the Xbox, you can get voice and motion recognition technology that allows you to manipulate your environment just by doing certain motions or talking.


Smarten Existing Dumb Devices

Smart home technologies have a lot of use cases. One area where smart home technologies can make a difference is in smartening existing dumb devices. “Dumb devices” are those that aren’t internet enabled. For example, you can plug in a dumb device like a hair dryer, a lamp, or a blender into a Belkin WeMo switch. Once the device is plugged in, it becomes smart. If you aren’t sure if you left a lamp on in a room, all you have to do is check your smartphone and it will let you know if the device is on or off. You can control your devices from your smartphone just by having them plugged into a WeMo switch. Another device that can smarten dumb devices is Twine. Twine is a wireless square with sensors and a web app that helps you set rules for your devices. For example, you can use Twine to get a tweet about when your laundry is done or an email if your basement floods. People have used Twine on their garage doors in order to see if they remembered to close the doors or not. As mentioned earlier, another use for Twine is in the laundry room to see whether or not your washing machine has overflowed. Twine can sense the humidity in the room and tell if anything atypical happens.


As one can see, even dumb devices can become smart with the implementation of technology. Overall, smart home technologies can revolutionize the way you live. As new technology is developed and becomes less expensive, more people will be able to experience the benefits of having a smart home.

To learn more about smart home technologies, check out the rest of Juston’s presentation in this video.

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