We already live in the age of smartphones, smart cars and smart TVs, but it doesn’t end there. In fact, thanks to the rapid advances in technology, we are now on the cusp of the ‘smart home’ era.

What exactly are smart homes?

In a nutshell, smart homes – also known as home automation – integrate the array of devices and electronic appliances in your home into a single application. Typically, home automation technology can be used to manage and adjust the following:

  • HVAC (heating, Ventilation and air conditioning)
  • Lighting
  • Alarm system
  • Home entertainment system
  • Irrigation system

…and much more.

How does home automation work?

Currently, smart homes communicate using a combination of wired and wireless technologies. Some devices communicate using the power grid in your home, while others communicate wirelessly through radio waves, much like Wi-Fi and cellular communication. In essence, home automation works in just three steps:

  1. A remote control device sends a signal to a component
  2. The signal is sent through your transmission system – powerline network, radio frequency, etc.
  3. The component receives the signal and carries out the command

 

Mobile access

The mobile industry has already adopted home automation and remote access through apps is widely available.

Home security giant ADT, for example, unveiled ADT Pulse in 2010, which allows customers to manage energy consumption, view live surveillance video and arm/disarm their alarm system through a smartphone app.

How can I make my home ‘smart?’

In recent years, smart home systems have hit the mainstream. Residential security companies, such as ADT and Vivint, have adopted home automation and begun offering it their customers along with traditional home protection services.

There is also a DIY market for home automation, but it can be difficult for non-technical homeowners to figure out. As it currently stands, it’s best to consult the professionals if you’re interested setting up a home automation system at your humble abode.

The future of home automation

In the grand scheme of things, home automation is still in its infancy. As the technology fueling smart homes continues to evolve and improve, new products will continue to replace older ones.

Compatibility is one of the biggest challenges facing this technology. Currently, there are a number of home automation protocols – most notably X10, Insteon, Z-Wave, ZigBee – that use different protocols to send messages between devices. However, major manufacturers are making efforts to incorporate Wi-Fi into smart home products. This will increase compatibility between devices and make installation easy for the average consumer.

While it’s hard to know what the smart home will be capable of even 10 years down the road, the future of home automation as a business is anything but cloudy. According to international manufacturer the smart home industry will surge to $2.5 billion in just two years – marking a 30 percent growth in the number of households with home automation systems.

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