Retrofitting the connected house to achieve a truly smart home
The vision of a truly smart home is becoming increasingly viable as new products arrive on the market all the time. More recently we’ve also seen a move away from time-consuming, expensive installation, in favour of a more agile solution that can integrate with existing kit.
Consumers are no longer required to bin their entire platform to upgrade their home. But when it comes to retrofitting a smart home what is really possible?
Of course, the opportunities are endless but there’s often a trade-off between the cost and benefits provided (how valuable is the ability to run a bath or shut the blinds when you’re in the supermarket or on the train?). With big investments being made by the likes of Google and other major tech firms, however, a complete smart home has become a more realistic and affordable concept.
Crucially, there are an increasing number of ‘Full Monty’ retrofit solutions available. The latest of these is provided by Samsung’s recent acquisition of SmartThings. The US-based start-up attracted the interest of the Korean tech giant by offering an expandable communications hub that puts users in control of an expanding range of domestic devices when away from the home. From window blinds and door-entry cameras to smoke alarms, users can connect to pretty much anything at any time.
Most of us won’t see a tidal wave of technology; we’re more likely to see a constant trickle of smart technology entering our homes over the next few years. For some time now we have become accustomed to smart stuff like door entry systems, electric gates and even TV recorders that can be remotely controlled from an app, so it’s no longer a problem when you remember that you’ve forgotten to set the big match to record when you’re out shopping.
Initiatives like Nest and Hive’s heating controllers have also consummately overcome the constraints of 19th or 20th century environmental management systems. Having established a bridgehead from a previously unmet need, both of these companies and their many competitors are now bringing “enterprise” level intruder alarms, fire detection and elderly monitoring services to the masses at affordable prices.
Given the average lifecycle of white goods (and what we are prepared to pay for appliances) it may still be some time until we all live in a Jetson’s style home – where your fridge can text you the date-code order in which to eat your yogurts, or pre-complete shopping lists based on big-data analysis of buying behaviour. It is clear, however, that current progress makes these futuristic concepts closer than ever before.
The author of this blog is Matthew Owen, MD at M2M Intelligence