Tech companies have been talking about connected homes for years – The Internet of Things – where appliances and accessories will be connected to the Internet. Have you thought about how a world with connected devices surrounding us would be? Have you imagined a home where household appliances and systems can automatically take action without your input? Because the connected home is no longer a vision – it is fast becoming a reality.
At the Consumer Electronic Show (CES), this year, the main focus was smart appliances and connected homes. A startup, known as Smart Things, prepared a house equipped with full range of smart appliances to show off the endless possibilities. The company prepared a hub where devices integrated with a line of sensors and interacted with third party devices. There were varieties of smart locks, sensors, cameras, and lights. The greatest advantage to this is that the system is actually not futuristic – or unaffordable.
Staying Connected in The Internet of Things
Many of us unknowingly have already joined this club, commonly referred to as The Internet of Things. Having a smartphone means you are in this group. And almost everyone nowadays has a smartphone in their pocket.
A smartphone brims with sensors like the GPS, an accelerometer, a compass, sound, light and an altimeter. I’m sure you’ve noticed that your smartphone can monitor your health, check the velocity of your car, measure the magnitude of an earthquake and countless other things. Smartphones can also be a wireless hub for other gadgets and sensors. They can also act as a universal remote control for a smart home. The smartphone is an important driver behind the concept of connected devices.
Technology companies are considering more smart things they can bring to market. They are also imagining new ways these devices will be inter-connected and communicate with each other. This home network can include items like coffee mugs, heating and lighting controls or washing machines. Sensors can now even be attached to your pets. Connected equipment gives you the opportunity to digitally monitor and control aspects of your life through apps or a web browser.
A few years down the line, the virtual world may be able to communicate and respond just as easily, or even more so, as in the physical world.
Connected Devices That Have Created a Sensation
Some home builders are thinking of an entire house full of connected devices while there are many consumers who prefer smaller devices that can be controlled by a smartphone. A common example of a connected device is a refrigerator that can send text messages when your milk is nearly empty. And Hue Lightbulbs, made by Philips, can be controlled from an iPhone.
WiFi powered or camera installed devices can be controlled via smartphone apps from a distant location. You can preheat an oven in your home while sitting at your office desk. Many of these devices are equipped with tiny computer chips so that they can make their own decisions. For example, the sprinkler in your garden can check the weather online and decide whether your lawn needs to be watered or not. If you tend to forget where you have last laid your keys, eye glasses, tiny valuables or your wallet, you can simply attach a Tile to them and keep track of them through a smartphone app.
Connected devices may be especially beneficial for elderly persons. It is possible to use sensors to notify caregivers if the person deviates from their usual routine or stays for a longer period of time in bed or the bathroom.
Additional advantages of smart devices are:
- They can remind you to complete a job that has yet to be completed.
- Sensors fitted within devices help them to make decisions on their own.
- You can control the equipment in your home from your smartphone sitting anywhere, at anytime.
However, there are many hurdles these smart devices have to overcome. It will still be a while before we have a standard platform that allows management of several smart devices from one central place. Introducing a WiFi or computer chip into the devices isn’t that tough. The hardest part is how the data is interpreted. Many expect companies will soon overcome these obstacles and eventually – we will all be living in a connected universe.