I'm an engineer who loves to tinker – but if you told me I'd have to swap out all my smart home products every couple of years the way I do my smartphone, I'd say that's not very smart at all.
Some recent articles fret that's what the future holds for smart homes as the so-called Internet of Things leads to more homes with smart devices such as locks, thermostats and switches. They raise the specter of homeowners getting stuck with pricey doorstops because either their gear becomes outdated or their service provider pulls the plug.
It doesn't have to be like that.
The best smart homes require a small amount of counter-intuitive thinking on the part of the folks (like me) who make the products. Many players in home technology focus too heavily on the technology and forgetting the home.
Smart home technology needs to be less like mobile technology – although the interaction between the two makes home automation compelling – and more like appliances. People have gotten used to getting a new phone every few years but expect their refrigerator or furnace to last a decade or more.
Smart home providers can learn from the appliance mindset. At Nexia, for example, we learned a great deal from our sister companies within Ingersoll Rand – including Trane and American Standard – and our partners at venerable manufacturers such as Schlage and General Electric. While smart home products require sophisticated engineering and industrial design, they should be simple enough to operate without instruction and reliable enough to last for years.
Door locks, thermostats and switches should work regardless of whether they are connected to the Internet. (Although internet connectivity unlocks powerful features that homeowners find appealing.) But if someone doesn't want to fumble for the phone to turn off the bedside lamp, they should be able to turn it off manually. Even if (heaven forbid) Nexia ever suffers an outage or goes out of business, locks connected to our system can still unlock with a key or the battery-powered keypad, and thermostats can be set manually.
Another key aspect to making smart home products outlast ever-shorter technology cycles is to keep most of the computing power in the cloud. At Nexia, the majority of our devices talk to each other via Z-Wave – a secure, low-power standard used by thousands of products from the best manufacturers. Most of what makes them smart happens over the internet on our servers, where we can update the software regularly and make sure everything moves forward with new technology.
When Amazon unveiled its Echo voice-controlled assistant, our engineers were able to integrate Nexia seamlessly with it. That allowed Nexia users with an Echo to add voice control without changing a single device in their home. The same is true with new geo-fencing features that allow Nexia users to have their home respond in different ways depending upon the person's physical location– such as lowering the thermostat when they leave work or automatically locking the door when they are 100 yards from the house.
In other words, an essential feature in building a long-lasting smart home is to not make it too clever for its own good – with proprietary standards or an inability to work offline. That just sets the stage for disappointment if homeowners choose a system that's obsolete in a few months or won't let them set the thermostat in the dead of winter.
Good smart home technology leverages the best aspects of the home and technology. It provides reliable, long lasting devices and cloud-based software that continuously delivers upgrades to expand devices capabilities over time. That's smart.
Nexia Home Intelligence, Smart Homes, Z-Wave, Amazon Echo, voice control
How can home automation actually make life better for you and your family? It's a question we hear all the time. There's no denying the enhanced convenience of being able to turn on a light from the palm of your hand, or adjusting the thermostat from the comfort of your favorite spot on the sofa.
Have questions about getting started with smart home technology and feeling a little overwhelmed? You came to the right place, because we have answers.
Digital Life Virtual Smart Home - AT&T
Z-Wave Smart Home Monitoring Your Kids
How much does smart home technology cost? It's not an easy question to answer. It's not as if you can walk into your local big box store and ask for a medium-sized lighting system with a side order of climate control.
Ellen Farrow is a Z-Wave customer whose experience serves as a reminder for just how powerful a smart home can be. Ellen explains in her own words how on one day in February this year, her Z-Wave system helped save her home.
Piece of Cake - AT&T Digital Life
Home Security Bear - Vivint
If you're at all familiar with smart home technology, you're probably aware of some of the benefits: the enhanced comfort and energy savings, the increased security, the undeniable convenience. But did you know that a smart home can also improve your health and help you get in shape?
This month we're going back to basics with Josh from ZWaveZone.com, an awesome resource for everything Z-Wave home automation related. If you're new to the world of smart home, you may be wondering where to start and how using Z-Wave can benefit you and your home. Josh offers his top tips and tricks to getting started with a Z-Wave home and products he loves.
For example, if someone needs to be let into my house when I’m not there, I can let someone in, and can even join with a thermostat or some Z-Wave lights. Z-Wave is a wireless technology that lets smart devices communicate with one another. Household products are made "smart" when Z-Wave connectivity is added inside the product’s design.
We hear an awful lot about smart homes these days. We know about smartphones, smart watches, smart appliances, smart cars, and more. As these separate devices converge around the places we're in the most, the internet of things rises up around us.
Home automation is what it sounds like: automating the ability to control items around the house—from window shades to pet feeders—with a simple push of a button (or a voice command). Some activities, like setting up a lamp to turn on and off at your whim, are simple and relatively inexpensive.
The five tips shared here are solid lighting control suggestions that can boost the effectiveness a home security system, or even be used on their own for your own peace of mind, whether the emergency is finding a snack without stubbing your toe or scaring away an intruder in the middle of the night.
Connection to all of your smart devices shouldn't be an issue whatsoever, given that the SmartThings hub offers many of the well-known wireless protocols, including Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Z-Wave, and ZigBee.
I've decided to turn that boo into another woo-hoo by seizing the opportunity my new, falling-down, three bedroom house affords me. I want to make my home smart. As smart, efficient and as seamless as possible. And I'll be detailing that process in this weekly smart home diary.
The traditional American front porch isn't just a timeless scene. It's also a functional part of your home, where safety, security and convenience are paramount. A few subtle 21st century additions can really enhance your porch, making it an even more enjoyable area to use.
One benefit of a connected home is that it should (asuming the system is working) let you know when there's a problem, even if you're not there. It's one reason those with vacation homes are installing smart leak detectors, Wi-Fi-enabled cameras, and so on. And just because your second home is on wheels, it doesn't mean having devices that keep an eye on things is any less helpful.