Smart homes connect with every appliance and device in your home so they can communicate with each other and keep in touch with you, even when you’re not home. Just give a command by voice, remote control or a computer and your home will react. But why are smart homes becoming so popular these days?
The technology behind the smart homes was first developed back in 1975, when a company in Scotland created X10. X10 allows the compatible products communicate with each other through the electrical wires in your home. All the appliances and devices are transmitters, as well as means to control the system. This is designed to happen in less than a second, but X10 has its limitations. That’s why other technologies have emerged. Newer systems use radio waves to communicate, the same way as WiFi and cell phones. However, since the automation commands are short messages, smart homes don’t need WiFi network to function. The most famous radio networks in smart homes are ZigBee and Z-wave. Both of them are mesh networks, which means that there’s more than one way for the message to get to its destination.
Z-wave uses a Source Routing Algorithm to determine the fastest way for a message. Each Z-wave device has a code, and when plugged into the system, the network controller recognizes this code, determines the location of the device and adds it to the network. When a command comes through, the network controller uses an algorithm to determine how the message should be sent.
With the ZigBee network the messages from the transmitter zigzag like bees, searching for the best path to the receiver. The advantage of ZigBee on the market is that any company can build a ZigBee-compatible product without paying licensing fees for the technology behind it, since this platform is based on the standard, set by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers for wireless personal networks.
While using a wireless network provides more flexibility for placing devices, there still might be some interference. Insteon is a dual mesh network, which provides a way for your smart home to communicate over both electrical wires and radio waves. If the message isn’t getting through on one platform, it will try another. Thus, all the devices pick up the message and broadcast it until the command is performed. The more devices you have installed on this network, the stronger the message will be.
Setting up a smart home, you can have cameras that will track your exterior, even in complete darkness, a dimmer for the lighting, a video door phone, which will show you a picture of who’s at the door, motion sensors, that will send an alert whenever there’s motion around your smart home, and they call tell the difference between pets and burglars, door handles, which can open with scanned fingerprints or a code, sound systems, that will distribute sound from your stereo to any room with connected speakers, channel modulators, which can take any video signal – from a security camera to a television station – and make it easy to view on any TV in the smart home, remote controls, keypads and tabletop controllers to activate the various smart home applications.
Smart homes really can make your life easier and more convenient. They can also provide some energy-efficiency savings, putting devices at a reduced level of functionality. Smart homes also provide many benefits for elderly people, who live alone. They can alert you when it’s time to take medicines, track how much you are eating or even alert the hospital in case you fall.
The cost of smart homes varies, depending on how smart your home is. You may consider building your smart home gradually, starting with a basic lighting system. To determine if it’s worth the money, consider the advantages of smart homes and how your family will benefit from a smart home.
Does the individual really need all this technology? The truth is that smart homes are coming. And maybe with all the time we can save with smart homes, we will have time to work towards other goals.