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 They raise the specter of homeowners getting stuck with pricey doorstops because either their gear becomes outdated or their service provider pulls the plug.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
Smart home gear is all about convenience. It saves you time and money and keeps you safe – but it's summer! Time to kick back and relax. So let smart home tech help you do that for all your outdoor entertaining.
A smart home can protect you from an unwanted intrusion, but how else can it protect your home? According to the most recent full-year statistics from the National Fire Protection Association, 365,000 home fires caused 12,875 injuries and 2,380 casualties in 2012, leading to $5.7 billion in damages.
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Whether your winters are frozen over or soggy and gloomy, the end of winter means one thing for most of us: a greater risk of water damage. Whether it's frozen pipes that have burst, or spring rains that bring flooding, or drainage systems that are clogged, water in the home is a real issue in the spring. Either way, early detection can make all the difference.
A smart home can help ease your worries and provide you the peace of mind you need to keep yourself on track with the rest of your day. Here are a few problems that keeping your home connected can solve.
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If you're one of the roughly 50% of homeowners looking to add smart home technology to your home in the coming year, chances are good that you've either put a lot of thought and planning into your purchases, or you're absolutely daunted by the staggering number of options. It isn't always easy to know unless you look for the Z-Wave logo.
With renting comes a lot of different considerations – you're generally restricted to what you can install or add to walls, and switching out installed items like a thermostat is usually frowned upon. So how do renters install a Z-Wave smart home with tech that they can bring with them after they move? We have a few solutions.
Smart home technology is still shiny and new, and people are adapting to it more and more every day.
When my son was five, I overheard him plotting with the girl next door to sneak out and meet up for a play date—after my husband and I were asleep. That was the day I decided to get a smart home security system.
Of the key drivers of smart homes is its ability to offer money and energy saving options. This is individually rewarding, but it is also good for the planet. As more and more benefits are offered to home and business owners that find ways to reserve the limited resources of Earth, smart home technology stands out as a green solution.
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And while home security systems were once complicated and a bit vexing, newer technologies have made them simple and even smarter.
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.
As this high-tech world we live in continues to bring new advancements to the market, more and more home buyers are also searching for a home that is smart.
I have Somfy motorized blinds, and I ended up buying a Z-wave controller that translates Somfy's proprietary protocol to Z-wave so I could control it with the Echo, $179.99 at Amazon using a hub like SmartThings or Wink, $60.28 at Amazon for voice control.