Nearly every aspect of life where technology has entered homes someone has developed a smart home alternative. Here is a list showing just a few examples.
This is by no means a complete list. So, as I find new pros and cons I will add them to this list. Please feel free to drop me an email if you have more to add or just disagree with an item in the list.
Peace of mind - One of the most touted benefits to home automation is it allows monitoring of homes remotely, preventing dangers such as a forgotten coffee maker left on, water links, security systems left off or a door left unlocked.
Accommodate homeowners’ preferences - It can be setup to react to a homeowner returning home. Upon your arrival, your house could open the garage door, turn on specific lights, start the fireplace and play your favorite tunes. It could then be programmed to wake you in the morning by slowly raising your shades, while softly playing music and then brew you a fresh cup of coffee. If you ended up falling back to sleep, after about 15 minutes of you not moving, it could switch to more energetic music at a higher volume and turn on your lights.
Can allow you to “Age in Place” – It can provide monitoring that can help seniors to remain at home comfortably and safely, rather than moving to a nursing home or requiring 24/7 home care.
Can react to environment – It can adjust your home depending on the environment. As the sun moves across the sky your shades can be open or closed to help regulate the temperature and protect your furniture and rugs. IF temperature raises or falls to levels not normal or safe, the house could call, text or email you to tell you that something is wrong.
Improve efficiency - Instead of leaving the air conditioning on all day, a smart home system can learn behaviors and make sure the house is cooled down by the time homeowners arrive home from work. With a smart irrigation system, the lawn will only be watered when needed and with the exact amount of water necessary. With home automation, energy, water, and other resources are used more efficiently, which helps save both natural resources and put money back into your pockets.
Smart home automation systems have struggled to become mainstream, in part due to their technical nature.
Complexity - A drawback is their perceived complexity; some people have difficulty with technology or no tolerance with issues that can occur with installing, maintaining, or using these devices. To fight this, smart home manufacturers are working on reducing complexity and improving the user experience to make it enjoyable and beneficial for users of all types and technical levels. Despite this, instructions and technical support can be rare or non-existent.
How we can help: With our years of experience working and playing with smart devices, electronics, and programming we are well suited to working through any technology issues. We also pride ourselves on being able to explain and simplify these devices to non-geeks.
Interoperable issues between manufacturer - For home automation systems to be truly effective, devices must be interoperable regardless of manufacturer, and use the same protocol or, at least, complementary ones. As it is a relatively new market, there is no gold standard for home automation yet. However, standard alliances are partnering with manufacturers and protocols to ensure interoperability and a seamless user experience.
How we can help: Yes, this is a big problem, but not all devices need to interact with each other. When they do, we use our experience to choose/find devices that will interact. If however, devices do not interact, we have found alternative methods to make them function together.
Security Issue - People are increasingly becoming concerned about the security of their smart home devices. If hackers can infiltrate a smart device, they could potentially turn off the lights and alarms and unlock the doors, leaving a home defenseless to a break-in. Further, hackers could potentially access the homeowner's network, leading to worse attacks or data exfiltration.
How we can help: To reduce these security issues, we like to setup a separate network to link all devices together. This separates the smart devices from your computers or other our electronic devices. The majority of these hacks are cause by three things:
• configurating setting on the devices
• passwords (never changed at setup, unsafe password being used or sharing of passwords)
• updates never being done to the smart devices or the network itself.
We will setup appropriate passwords at install, then change passwords and run updates on a scheduled.
Data privacy – As with security, people are increasingly becoming concerned about the privacy of the data shared by their smart home devices. While smart home device and platform manufacturers may collect consumer data to better tailor their products or offer new and improved services to customers, trust and transparency are critical to manufacturers looking to gain new customers.
How we can help: We will adjust settings to limit sharing of your data. Where we cannot stop the sharing of data, we will inform you. Unfortunately, most of the devices are using the “Cloud” to process or store data. Both activities create a potential for misuse, by manufactures, of this data.