Smartphones were just the beginning - today, they can help you control your entire home. The smart home concept has ceased to be a sci-fi fantasy or a tech game for geeks. Now it has become a reality available to everyone. You can set up a smart home yourself, without any cables and complicated installations. You'll get a helper that will simplify everyday activities, increase home security and reduce energy costs.
The possibilities are endless. In the morning you will wake up to a soft light and the kettle starting to boil in the kitchen. After you leave, the thermostat lowers the temperature and the smart sockets are automatically disconnected. The security sensors guard your home and send you notifications if they record anything suspicious. The cameras also provide live transmission from the living room to the office. In the evening, you come home to a warm apartment, the smart lock automatically locks the door behind you and the motion sensors turn off. The blinds are closed, the AV system is launched, and the smart lighting creates a cosy atmosphere. The light in the children's room will turn off as soon as they fall asleep. You have absolute control over everything through an intuitive smartphone application.
Starter kits provide the perfect stepping stone for a smart home. They are relatively inexpensive and easy to install - just unpack everything from the box, place devices in the desired areas in your home, and turn them on. However, these sets often only serve a single purpose (like security). It can be difficult to add a third-party device because it is a closed system with its own communication protocol. An example can be a smart thermostat, to which you can add other thermostat controllers. If you buy a smart light from another manufacturer, however, you may need to download another separate application to control it. The more you expand your smart home, the more applications you need, which is not very convenient.
The heart and brain of a fine-tuned smart home is the central unit, the so-called hub. Just connect the central unit to the router and then gradually build up a complex, smart household by connecting other devices.
The hub communicates with individual smart components that support ZigBee or Z-Wave protocols that are safely encrypted with a 128-bit algorithm. Both protocols communicate by passing the signal across devices to the central unit. Every additional device expands the network reach. However, ZigBee and Z-Wave communicate at different frequencies, so take protocol compatibility into account when choosing smart devices.
The most convenient way to control a centralised smart home is by using smart voice-control assistants, such as Amazon Echo or Google Assistant. They can communicate with a variety of devices using both WiFi and Bluetooth, including products that primarily use only one of the universal protocols.
Apple HomeKit combines the control of smart appliances and components marked with the "Works with Apple HomeKit" logo in a single application. You can easily add more devices and other users directly in the app. Apple HomeKit can be controlled by an Apple Watch and even Siri's voice guidance. The Apple TV multimedia device and the smart Apple HomePod speakers are two devices that you can easily use with the HomeKit.
Internet of Things is abbreviated to IoT. With the rise of high-speed internet, the number of everyday devices that connect to the Internet is growing geometrically to communicate with users and send traffic data to other devices or to cloud services. It can be smart watches, safety cameras, but also cars or even refrigerators and washing machines. These devices can be remotely controlled by the user thanks to their unique identification and by gaining information about their functionality.
Bluetooth is the standard for wireless communication linking two or more electronic devices, such as tablets, mobile phones, earphones, fitness trackers and more. A Bluetooth connections to a PC can be established with Bluetooth USB adaptors. It is used to transmit audio, video and other files and their signal is also used by security locators. Bluetooth was invented in 1994 by the Swedish telecommunications company Ericsson, who were researching an alternative for cable connections for mobile devices.
Apple HomeKit is an open protocol for wireless communication devices in a smart home. This technology allows you to control devices from different manufacturers from a single Home application for iOS devices and create scenarios for automated actions based on defined conditions. Compliance with the Works with Apple HomeKit is a prerequisite for compatibility. A pleasant bonus is also the voice control thanks to the integration of Siri.
Z-Wave is the perfect tool for automated smart home appliance management and plays a dominant role in the Internet of Things (IoT). Its key benefit is the ability to use the devices of different manufacturers while maintaining their mutual compatibility and ease of use. With one Z-Wave central unit, you can easily combine diverse products and manage them comfortably and interactively from a computer, mobile phone, or tablet. Another benefit of this system is a drastic reduction in the cost of automation across the home and a wide scope for future expansion.
The ZigBee protocol is the perfect tool for automating the management of smart home appliances, and it plays an important role in the Internet of Things (IoT) world. Its key benefit is the ability to use the devices of different manufacturers while maintaining their mutual compatibility and ease of operation. ZigBee allows you to connect similar products via one central unit and manage them interactively from your computer, smartphone or tablet. Another brilliant advantage is the drastic reduction in the costs of automating an entire household, as well as the possibility of further expansion.
If That Then That is a free web platform and an iOS/Android app that can connect non-collaborative applications and web services using simple applet chains. This string then activates a defined trigger. Chains can be freely created or selected from a menu of ready-made applets. The importance of IFTTT or similar platforms is growing as smartphone-operated things and appliances are becoming more common.Glossary