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Smart Home Technology - The Future is Here

Godden|Sudik Architects - Friday, July 27, 2018
Smart home technology is becoming exponentially more popular. Until recently, a future where our homes take care of our mundane tasks for us would have seemed unimaginable, but now that seems imminent. So let’s dive in, step by step, into assembling your smart home.
The primary component of any smart home is the assistant and its associated hardware. The primary options are Amazon’s Alexa, Google’s Assistant, and Apple’s Siri. Alexa is the most widely supported smart home hub with more than 10,000 third-party capabilities, although Amazon’s privacy policy leaves the door open to third parties to decide what they can do with the data they collect from you. Google is generally the smartest hub, allowing you to ask of it more complex tasks, however Google’s privacy policy is vague and the hardware’s audio quality considered mediocre. Apple worked to protect your privacy with Siri, making sure that data transmitted between accessories and Apple devices is secure, but because of these rigid privacy protections, there are fewer compatible smart home products available. Out of these three options, first pick the one hub system that will work best for you.
After you choose a hub, you can choose the hardware that will control your smart home tech. Alexa corresponds with the Echo devices, Google with Google Home and Android phones, and Siri with iPhones, iPads, and the Apple Watch.
Now you can select the smart home products you’d like to equip your home with. There are a wide variety of options. Thermostats, door bells, locks, and garage door openers are among the most popular options that are also very practical and give you more control of your home.
The average home energy bill is $1,322.40 per year and smart home devices could result in an energy savings of $123 to $145 per year. The most important piece to achieve those savings is a smart thermostat, which can sense when the house is empty and adjust the heating or cooling needs accordingly. A popular and well reviewed thermostat option is the Nest Learning Thermostat. With built-in WIFI, Nest lets you change the temperature from anywhere using your phone. However, the Ecobee4 is widely regarded as the best smart thermostat on the market. It features a built-in Amazon Alexa speaker, allowing you to perform the same tasks you could with a traditional Alexa speaker, such as asking for the weather. An included remote sensor helps to counteract hot or cold areas in different rooms.
Smart doorbells feature integrated security cameras, microphones, and speakers so you can see and even talk to whoever may be at your front porch. There are many positively reviewed options, including the Skybell HD, Ring Video Doorbell Pro, Nest Hello, and the August Doorbell Cam Pro. These range in price from $160 to $250 but may be well worth the cost for the added peace of mind for homeowners.
Smart locks let you unlock or lock a door remotely and they also notify you when a door has been opened and by who. On top of that, they can allow you to grant access to certain persons at certain scheduled times and they can notify you when anything out of the ordinary occurs, such as when a door is left open. The August Smart Lock Pro + Connect is a well-regarded model. It includes the lock, a sensor mounted on the doorframe, and the Connect accessory that allows you to control your lock outside of Bluetooth range.
Smart garage door openers allow you to check to make sure you shut the door when you left, along with voice activated opening and closing and automatic opening when you arrive. In general they cost about $100 and can be attached, typically with adhesive, to your existing motorized garage door opener. The Chamberlain MyQ Smart Garage Hub is a well reviewed product from a trusted brand. Other products include additional features, such as cameras that allow you to monitor your garage.
Got the basics covered but still looking for more smart technology? There are plenty of bells and whistles that you can add to your home. Are you looking for smart light bulbs that can be turned on or off or change color when you ask them to? There are many options. What about a coffee maker that has a cup ready for you by the time you roll out of bed or allows you to order your go-to from the other room? Plenty are already on the market. Want a smart lawn mower that you can command from your phone and will automatically stop cutting if it starts to rain? Try the Honda Miimo. And yes, even if you’re looking for a smart egg carton or a smart fork, they exist. Whatever issues you may be looking to tackle; there are smart gadgets that are there to solve them.
Smart home technology continues to grow in popularity and will be a major part of how we interact with our homes. A future where your lights and temperature are set to your preferred setting when you arrive and you telling your fridge to order the groceries you need is not far away. While the potential for smart home technology is nearly limitless, what consumers want currently are connected devices that make their lives a bit easier by giving them expanded control of their home systems. These practical applications are what architects can focus on. By learning what they do and how they do it, we can design future-proof homes to function with technology. An example is that because smart homes will be built on wireless systems and lights and appliances will be controlled through our voices or phones, reducing the visibility of outlets and switches may be desirable to achieve a greater aesthetic. Another consideration is the layout and interaction of spaces within the home. With televisions that roll up into the ceiling and other appliances shrinking in size, multipurpose spaces that adapt to a resident’s needs should be expected to become more common and less division of spaces may be desired.
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