How Smart Homes are Changing our Lives in 2021

What was once a collection of single and separate devices, smart homes are turning into fully-fledged smart systems

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Smart-home featured

Smart home technologies have long ceased to be something new or surprising. Today, the idea of smart home appliances or switches isn’t from a cyberpunk scene, but rather an actively emerging reality. For example, the report from Berg Insight revealed that the number of smart homes in Europe and North America reached 102.6 million in 2020.

What was once a collection of single and separate devices, smart homes are turning into fully-fledged smart systems that can supply coffee on time, adjust the temperature, and monitor the security of your house while you are away. All of this is possible thanks to the digitalization of an increasing number of devices. Kaspersky has developed a list of the most interesting benefits which the modern smart home can provide to become a fully-fledged personal assistant or protector.

Safety

Smart home technology can take the safety of your home to the next level. And we aren’t just talking about alarms. Modern cameras, motion sensors and even smart door locks will help turn your home into a real fortress, and immediately send a message to your smartphone if something happens.

One of the most obvious examples is the installation of a home video surveillance system connected to the internet. Such cameras will work 24/7 and allow owners to look at what is happening anywhere in the house through an app on a smartphone. Sometimes such cameras have a motion sensor – if a camera sees something moving (be it a cat, a dog or an intruder) it records the file and sends it to the server. Your device then receives a notification so that you can react as quickly as possible and perhaps prevent your property from being broken into.

The smart home has also made it possible to reinvent door locks. In order to secure your home as much as possible, the easiest option is to stop intruders from being able to get through the door. However, modern locks have moved on from being just a mechanism. Today, they can do much more than just prevent intruders from getting inside. For example, they can send you a notification when someone walks in and out, or create access codes for you or those who work in your home (nanny, housekeeper, gardener, etc.).

All of these solutions can turn your house into a high-tech home, but even smart defences need protection. To ensure your defender has a shield, solutions have been created that help protects not only individual devices from being hacked but the entire IoT ecosystem.

Peace of mind  

There are always numerous small things to worry about around the house – have I turned off the iron or closed the door? Who will water the flowers while I am on vacation? Even a small doubt is enough to ruin an evening out with friends or a short vacation with a loved one.

Smart devices can provide much needed reassurance in such situations. Smart water leak detectors, for example, which react to contact with water, can help you to stay calm and relaxed. Sensors can be installed next to batteries, pipes in the bathroom and in the kitchen. The devices are not only able to monitor the water level, but also determine the level of humidity in the room: if you are suddenly flooded from above, you will know immediately even if you are not at home.

The same situation is true with smart smoke detectors, which can warn of danger before it is too late. If wiring suddenly lights up in the house or an open fire remains burning, the sensor will immediately react.

Another important assistant – a smart socket – will also warn you if you forgot to turn off the iron whilst in a rush. Seeing the notification on your smartphone, you can remotely disconnect the device from the power no matter where you are.

Comfort

The time has finally come when you can allow yourself to truly relax and leave some of your household duties in the hands of technology. By automating some types of furniture, we can take comfort and health care to a new level.

For example, Eight Sleep has developed a bed equipped with sensors capable of monitoring the user’s sleep quality based on 15 parameters, including the duration of REM[1] and deep sleep phases, and heart rate patterns. This allows you to choose the optimal time for going to bed and waking up.

A smart bed will gently wake up the owner, catching the moment when the body is ready to rise, and create a pleasant morning environment, for example, turn on calm music or a light vibration, turn on the light or start the coffee machine via voice command.

Besides sleep comfort, a smart home can also make cooking much easier, enjoyable and fun. For example, the EYWA Kitchen Smart Screen is a small panel, no larger than a standard wall cabinet door. It easily fits into any kitchen, making it an indispensable helper. It can:

⦁ Find recipes for dishes online;

⦁ Make a list of required ingredients;

⦁ Independently purchase them online;

⦁ Order delivery at a specified time;

⦁ Turn on household appliances and set timers;

⦁ Distract children with a cartoon;

In order to safely use such smart solutions which are integrated into your daily activities (including cooking, shopping, choosing content), you need to ensure the safety of the devices themselves. Otherwise, attackers could get into your home network and gain access to personal data through convenient smart boards or switches.

The first and simplest step may be to change the default device password to a more complex one – but resist the temptation to copy the password from other accounts. If you have lots of devices and are finding it difficult to remember all the passwords, you can use a special solution to protect the ecosystem of the smart home. This will not only keep passwords safe but also warn you if the password has already been compromised.

Pet help

In addition to caring for the safety and comfort of home owners, the IoT market seeks to make life easier and better for pets. According to research, the size of the PetTech market in the United States has reached $5.5 billion – this includes connected collars, smart doors, feeders, fences, toys etc.

Some of the most popular smart pet devices are for drinks and feeders. They help to not only control nutrition and prevent overeating but also allow you to leave pets for a while at home alone, without worrying that your cat is hungry or has knocked over a bowl of water. Of course, in some extreme situations, cats can also turn on survival mode – for example, a cat was recently discovered eating cardboard and drinking from a leaking tap for 52 days. However, no owner would like to repeat this scenario for their pet.

If everything is covered with feeding and drinking, what else can manufacturers of smart devices develop to support pet care? How about chatting with your dog?

Start-up FluentPet, has come up with a device for human-dog communication. The device is a panel with buttons labelled with different symbols. With its help, the company seeks to test the hypothesis that animals can express their emotions and desires by clicking on pictures.

Another example is smart animal houses which are designed to improve comfort for pets. They are equipped with intelligent temperature control and environmental sensors that regulate the temperature inside depending on the number of degrees outside. In addition, the houses can monitor the health of the animal, tracking and recording pet activity and sleep data. All of this information can be read from the app on the smartphone in order to timely monitor the health of your pet.

Eco-friendly living

Besides comfort and safety, smart home technologies help make our lives more environmentally friendly by using resources more smartly – for example, using water and electricity in a more rational way.

For example, sensors can turn lights on and off in a room, depending on whether there are people there or not. Another option is smart heating, which will allow you to maintain certain microclimate parameters in each room. For example, if everyone leaves for school and work in the morning, the system can reduce energy consumption and increase it later in the day when everyone is back.

However, in addition to controlling energy consumption, modern smart homes are also able to produce energy. For this, systems for the production of alternative energy are built in – such as solar panels, wind turbines or geothermal installations.

Depending on the location of the building, in some cases, even the energy of water – currents or tides – can be used. As a result, the smart home control centre can not only control energy consumption but also monitor its production, as well as rational distribution.

Modern smart homes built from scratch include energy-saving technologies. Heat leakage and CO2 emissions from such buildings are minimal. Smart walls, roofs, and other building elements can inform the owner about their problems: the appearance of moisture or heat leaks. This allows you to promptly correct the defect that has appeared.

In general, the market for smart devices is actively growing and manufacturers of such systems are striving to digitize more and more elements of the house. This not only improves safety and comfort but also benefits the environment. As a result, smart homes are being transformed from a cluster of single, simple devices into true multi-layered digital ecosystems, which also require an appropriate level of protection.

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[1] Rapid eye movement sleep (REM sleep or REMS) is a unique phase of sleep in mammals and birds, characterized by random rapid movement of the eyes, accompanied by low muscle tone throughout the body, and the propensity of the sleeper to dream vividly.