The nature of gimmicks is to fade away into nothing, sometimes, however, sometimes they stop being gimmicks, start being taken seriously, go mainstream and ultimately end up improving our everyday lives. That’s what’s happening right now with smart technology. When it first started it was arguably something of a novelty and, to be fair, the limited capabilities of the early smart devices made this understandable. Now, however, while smart devices are still far from perfect, they generally deserve the name and they are getting better and more useful all the time. Here are four ways smart homes will improve comfort, safety and efficiency and as a bonus, will also help to promote sustainability.
Smart technology and comfort
Every new invention needs a unique selling point and for many people the major selling point of smart technology is the comfort factor, for which you might also read convenience. People of a certain age can probably still remember when electronic devices changed from needing to have buttons to be physically pressed to being capable of responding to remote controls. People too young to remember this will just have to try to imagine the irritation of having to walk across to a device every, single time you wanted to make even a minor change to its settings. The change from standard devices to smart ones is having a similar impact, but on a much larger scale and the convenience of being able to control devices remotely or to set them so that they essentially work independently unless you choose to intervene, is actually encouraging people to live in a more sustainable manner.
Lights are probably the most obvious example of this. We all know people who never seem to remember to turn lights off after them (and they aren’t necessarily children or teenagers), maybe, if we’re honest, we are that person. Now, technology will help us deal with our bad habits and we can turn lights off remotely or have them turn themselves off when they sense that they are not needed, thus saving energy, cutting our electricity bills and reducing our carbon footprint.
Smart technology and safety
Lights are also a good example of how smart technology can improve our safety. Everyone knows the trick of leaving lights switched on to make a home look occupied but at this point in time there are two problems with just leaving lights switched on. The first is that it’s expensive and the second is that it’s well know and can generally be spotted with a bit of observation. Putting lights on a timer cycle can help to counterbalance this but when a home is occupied, lights aren’t used randomly, they tend to be used in a fairly regular pattern based on the occupants’ lifestyle, plus lights tend to be used in combination with window coverings and other systems such as TVs so just switching lights off and on in isolation does not tend to look very convincing.
Smart technology, however, can make it look convincing and act as a real deterrent to burglars. It can also make for vastly more sophisticated home security systems, for example there are now doorbells which create a three-way link with a camera and your smartphone, so, whenever someone comes to your door, you can see them and, if you wish, communicate with them even if you are nowhere nearby. In time, it’s likely that these systems will become intelligent enough to recognize who is allowed access to your home and let them through automatically, so no more lost keys or rushing home to let in someone who’s forgotten theirs.
Smart technology and efficiency
Smart technology finally bridges the gap between the digital world of technology and the analogue world in which we live our lives and hence makes for a more efficient and sustainable lifestyle. Possibly the biggest example of this is the way in which accurate, sensor-driven technology is replacing traditional timer systems in all kinds of places. For example, home heating and/or air-conditioning systems can now respond to the actual temperature rather than simply switching on or off according to the schedules we have set from previous experience of that season. Given that many people, understandably, tend to err on the side of caution when it comes to making sure that they home is adequately heated or cooled, smart technology has the potential to be significantly more efficient and, hence, sustainable.
Comfort, safety and efficiency, the keys to reducing waste and saving the planet?
Reduce, reuse and recycle is the environmentalist’s mantra, but in today’s busy world, that can be easier said than done. For example, it can be really hard to keep track of what food we have in our homes and by when it should be eaten when meal-planning and the necessary shopping are just two of the so many other things we need to manage. We already have smart fridges which can prompt homeowners when items are running out and even place an order for more. As smart technology develops, it is highly likely that these services will become ever more sophisticated and will be able to accommodate expiry dates and remind home owners to consume food (or give it away) before it goes off. It will also, probably, move from fridges and freezers (which already have an electrical connection) into pantries, possibly by means of battery-operated devices.
This has the potential to reduce (or even almost eliminate) the massive amounts of food waste which is such a major issue at this point and thereby save people money and help to save the planet’s resources. There may even come a time when expiration dates become a thing of the past and smart technology automatically detects whether or not a food is still good to eat and for how long it is likely to remain so. This could be much more accurate than the system in place today, where food producers tend to be cautious with expiry dates in order to avoid potential legal liability and customers know this perfectly well and may choose to eat food past its official expiry date, which may or may not be a safe course of action.
This article was written by Katie Mills from Vidalux.co.uk. Katie is an expert in the field of home design and products and her writing and guest blogs are in high demand.