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What is a Smart Home?

Ines Hegedus-Garcia

Everyone is talking about smart homes, smart buildings and smart cities, but are we really defining what SMART means?

When you Google "smart homes", definitions will pop up as "home automation", but is that what a smart home is, or is automation only one of the many benefits?

We attended an innovation conference yesterday where a known architect who I shall not name, said to the audience that smart buildings are all over the spectrum because there's a lack of definition and understanding of the concept.  That's the reason I'm writing this today, not only as information but to try to obtain clarity.

The Internet of Things defines a smart home as:

A smart home is a residence that uses internet-connected devices to enable the remote monitoring and management of appliances and systems, such as lighting and heating.

I still think that automation or remote monitoring is only an aspect of smart living, but the most important part is DATA!!  Yes ladies and gentlemen, the gathering of data, its analysis and what we do with that data has become a crucial part of our world today, no matter the industry.  Humanity continues to get smarter and smarter and it has to do with the way we use data to improve our quality of life.

IoT gives us a bit of history on Smart home technology, some geeky facts on origin and evolution and examples of some of these technologies.  

What captured my attention was the part on smart thermostats.  Such devices, like Nest, for example (we have one and don't know how we ever lived without it) - were designed to allow users to schedule, monitor, and remotely control home temperatures.  Here's where it gets interesting, these devices also learn homeowner's behaviors and automatically modify settings to provide residents with maximum comfort and efficiency.  Now we are talking!!! The automation is fantastic, but the learning aspect of the device is what makes it REALLY SMART!

So imagine your smart TV recognizing who's watching and changing your preferred channel automatically, your garage door opening when you are close, your house plants watered when they need to be and household system monitors that protect your appliances from failures.  Imagine smart lighting that is not just about setting timers or controlling remotely, but about controlling lights and blinds according to usage by detecting occupants, light availability and adjusting accordingly.

I also learned a new word - DOMOTICS : it comes from the Latin word "domus", house. Easydom defines it as:

It is the encounter of information technology, electrotechnics and electronics that makes a home become "smart". It's the tool that allows us to control systems, devices and automations with the aim of increasing the living and comfort quality of the domestic space, but not only. A building starts to develop its "own intelligence", characterized, not by the amount of high technology it contains, but by the way the technology integration is projected and by how these technologies are able to satisfy the constantly evolving individual’s needs. 

Now, THAT, makes me happy inside.  In this world of information, it is crucial that we grab data by the horns and learn how to improve our lives with it.  If you are thinking that you prefer your simple life without devices and technology, I'm happy to inform you that you DO have a choice to keep away, the same way a turtle hides in its shell for protection.  The good news is that all this scary, geeky talk, is already part of our world and continues to improve our quality of life. Smart home living is no longer just an add-on or luxury option either, benefits go beyond saving money and include safety, peace of mind and even sustainability.

And what follows, you may ask? Cities that implement smart technology to save on commute times. Buildings that connect to the smart grid for efficient energy distribution and maintenance.  Using information for predictive maintenance ...the list goes on and on and it makes it really exiting to live in today's day an age.

Finally, the good news, with regard to real estate, is that any added smart technology adds marketability to homes.  As always, please contact us if you are thinking of selling your home and we'll tell you what the marketing advantages are.

Also, feel free to share what smart technologies you are implementing in your home and business today, I'd love to hear about them.


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