Smart homes filled can be extremely cool if the smart devices in them work the way they are meant to. Technology already allows us to lock our homes or turn off a forgotten appliance via an app on our mobile phones. Yet no matter how advanced we seem to get, we still find that there are some problems with the true integration of devices. In other words, not all the devices you purchase to make your home truly smart will ‘talk’ to each other the way they should, to give you the kind of service you have dreamt about. Meaning your smart home may not actually be as smart as it should.
Integration of all smart devices is still in its infancy because such devices are all invented and made by different companies. This may be because there are no national or international standards as far as we have seen anyway. We keep seeing ‘Company A’ making devices that work together with its own products, but not necessarily with devices made by ‘Company B’. We even tend to see ‘Company A’ creating upgraded products that don’t necessarily sync with past products. It all gets a bit frustrating for the consumer and forces consumers to keep spending money to buy products that integrate with the rest of their home.
This is the way each company ensures that consumers stick with their products so they end up with a healthy profit. For consumers who don’t like sticking to one brand this becomes a bit of an issue. Before beginning a smart home endeavour this is something to consider, especially if you already own several products made by a variety of companies. The trouble is that they won’t actually be able to work the way they were intended to work unless they can communicate with each other. There may be some basic communication, but not enough to enable them to work the way they should.
While there needs to be some kind of standard for all companies to adhere to, this requires deeper pockets than many companies wish to put in, especially because for the company it works well how it is already, so why change it? For the end user, having several different apps that must all be used to accomplish what they want in their smart home may not only be confusing, but also time-consuming - not to mention irritating. Home automation across the board needs to be simplified, but this will take quite a lot of hard work by many different companies.
Traditionally, devices for smart homes have been installed by people in the security system sector, professional integrators or enthusiastic hobbyists. The trouble is that not all the skills needed to do the job are available to each one. For instance, someone who can install the special locks needed to unlock automatically from a phone app, may not have the other skills needed to install or integrate other smart devices. And tech pros often don’t want to learn how to install a lock.
So it’s not only smart device integration that is needed, but cooperation between sectors. This is not the way things work at the moment, with companies keeping their secrets close and being unwilling, in the main, to share their specific knowledge with others. In this way they keep a large part of the market share for their investors. While there are some companies that are instigating the kind of change that is needed where coding is freely available to all without fear of legal repercussions, they are as yet in the minority.
This will need to change in the future and it’s consumers who will very likely drive that change. People want the freedom to choose what devices to purchase, especially when it comes to technology. There are many different smart devices on the market and more coming all the time. Consumers don’t want to be constrained to only purchase devices from a single brand source in order to ensure that they can be properly integrated. The forward thinking companies that make devices which can integrate with other brands easily are likely to get the largest share of the market in the long run.
According to Philip DesAutels, Senior Director of IoT (Internet of Things) for the AllSeen Alliance: “The quickest way to get lots of products into the market is to provide a core open-source framework that everyone uses.”
Once this is available, we can expect to see many products that have used the same coding and can thus integrate seamlessly with each other at a basic level and perhaps even at a higher level. Smart homes will be truly smart and able to perform at even higher levels without too much effort from the owners.
Smart homes are not necessarily only for the rich. You can start your quest for a smart home simply and take it step by step until you have what you want – or can afford. Many smart devices will even save money and increase the value of your home, making the investment worthwhile.
Smart devices for a smart home need to be capable of not only knowing what other devices are in the home, but how they work; then they need to be able to work with them. A simple example of this is when a smart light bulb can know that the front door has just been unlocked by the owner, so it will automatically light up the foyer or living room.
There are many devices that can make your home much safer and more convenient. Devices that can not only detect smoke, but tell what is causing it and whether it is dangerous and go on to do something about it if it is will certainly save lives. Other devices can automatically adjust light and temperature settings as they sense movement throughout the home mean we will always be comfortable. But only so long as each device can integrate seamlessly with the others in a way that is easy to manage.
After all, smart home owners don’t usually want to become rocket scientists in order to manage or learn about their smart devices. They just want them to operate automatically and give them the benefits for which they were purchased.