Home automation technology continues to advance at a rapid clip. Much of the same hardware and software technology that has made the smartphone such an indispensable part of our lives is also being applied to make homes much smarter.
The smartphone itself is still a big part of it. Virtually every smart device has an app of some kind. While app control is convenient and powerful, there’s more to the smart home than controlling smart devices. It’s about making everything work together seamlessly, allowing multiple forms of management and control of routine functions, or automating a task, so you don’t have to even think about it.
To that end, here are some trends to watch in home automation systems when considering smart technology for your home or office.
A Focus on Flexible Remotes
It’s safe to say that touchscreens have taken over our lives. How many times do we check our smartphones? But sometimes, a good old-fashioned remote (they are not actually old-fashioned) with real buttons is easier than navigating an app for simple functions. A hard button on an AV system remote to dim lights for a movie is a good example. Some companies make remotes that use a combination of buttons for that tactile feedback as well as color screens for visual feedback. They also make touchscreens too, but sometimes you need different tools in different rooms.
What’s new about these hard button remotes? Software programmability that lets us program them to do something as simple as pausing your music, all the way up to activate a scene where your lights dim, your motorized shades are lowered, and various components of your AV system are on and ready to watch your content.
By now most of us are familiar with smart speakers/assistants like Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant. The marriage of these with home automation system functions brings another powerful tool to the arsenal to manage a smart home. That same remote button we described above to activate a scene for watching a movie can be done with a voice command like “Alexa, turn on Movie Night.” Or it can be used for something simpler, as in “Alexa, turn on kitchen lights” when your hands are occupied. The possibilities are endless, as is the convenience when you need it.
Sensors have long been used to detect motion, temperature, smoke, and other environmental factors for security and safety. Advances in wireless communications, chips, and power management have resulted in smart, low-cost sensors that can detect multiple things. Some new sensors now combine the ability to measure temperature, humidity, UV light, vibration, and motion – all in one small device. The flexibility of these types of sensors can make it easier and more affordable to make your home healthier, safer, and more secure.
The same artificial intelligence and machine learning that make Siri and Alexa smarter every day is also being applied to home automation. One of the most exciting new developments is an object and facial recognition. If you have a security or surveillance camera in your home, some systems can now recognize people and pets, and sometimes vehicles too. So if your camera detects some motion, it can intelligently decide whether it’s something or someone familiar – like your dog, or a delivery truck – and the system doesn’t need to alert you for every little movement.