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The rise of smart home systems

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The world is more mobile than ever; decades ago, who could have imagined that phones could be taken on the go? That casino games could be played in the comfort of your own home? That turning on lights and setting the timer for your central heating would be as simple as clicking a button? Even the greatest of visionaries would have struggled to imagine the on-the-move living of the twenty-first century. Smart home systems are the latest trend to turn our way of life on its head, but it’s not always clear what they do and how they work. With over 290 million global subscriptions expected by 2022, it’s time to get to the bottom of the smart home phenomenon and discover what these cutting-edge devices can do for you.

What makes a smart home smart?

The way we live has changed and our homes have had to adapt to this new lifestyle. People are working more, travelling more and going out more and awareness of our carbon footprint is at an all-time high. Each of us wants to be able to live well but living green has become a matter of crucial importance. Innovation in this sector is what led to the advent of the smart home system.

Imagine you’re working late during the cool winter months. The thought of going home to a cold house at the end of the day is not particularly enticing, nor is the idea of fumbling for your keys in the dark of your doorstep. Sure, it’s easy to set a timer on your central heater, but any change to your schedule means one thing: a cold home and a miserable you! Smart home systems solve problems like this. Simply pull out your phone, fire up your app and you can turn the heat and outdoor lighting on remotely. Furthermore, you can set a new timer, so that your house gets nice and toasty but the heat doesn’t stay on for too long. That saves you money, conserves energy and solves your problem, all with the click of a button.

Let’s take another example. Home is a refuge for all of us, a safe haven that we return to at the end of the day. Home security, then, is a priority for most people. Smart locks sense when somebody is at your home and send you an alert straight to your phone. Cameras in doorbells or strategically chosen locations can reveal the guest to you. If it’s someone you trust, you can remotely grant them access; if not, you can turn them away or call the police. Some devices even let you talk to the person, giving them the impression that you’re at home. This means you can deter would-be intruders or get information about what they may need.

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Building your smart home

Making your home smart is easier than you might imagine. A huge variety of brand leaders are paving the way in smart home technology, which means plentiful choice, competitive prices and packages that are tailored to what you really need. When it comes to home assistance products, two really stand out as the starting point for your smart home: Google Assistant and Alexa. These voice-powered devices can be used to operate your other smart devices, with both systems hosting a wide variety of third-party services. That means you can purchase the devices that you need for your home, based on your own needs and usage patterns, and power them from one simple hub.

If you’re energy-conscious and trying to reduce your impact on the environment, smart lighting systems and plugs are the way to go. The former can sense when there is somebody in the room; if there’s not, the lights will automatically turn off, saving you money on your next electricity bill and cutting your emissions in an environmentally friendly way. Philips Hue are leaders in the smart lighting sector and provide an entire range of lighting solutions, from overhead lights and lamps to outdoor lighting.

If safety is your chief concern, Google’s Nest cameras provide fantastic security, allowing you to see and communicate with people at your door straight from your smartphone. Nest also provides a brilliant thermostat, which you can use to heat and air condition your home with the tap of a button.

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Is a smart home for me?

Like everything, there are pros and cons to smart home ownership. The energy efficiency and added security are certainly a key selling point, but smart devices like thermostats and lights can also be hugely effective for the elderly or people with disabilities or reduced mobility.

There are some concerns, however. According to a 2016 report carried out in the US, 80% of consumers are worried about data protection, while some fear that these technical products may be hard to grasp. No fear there – as the technology improves, it is becoming increasingly easy to use these smart home systems. With mobiles now a staple and home casino games a Google search away, smart homes are the next step forward in the future of technology.

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