Predictions state that by 2020 there will be more than 30 billion connected devices in the world. That works out at roughly four connected devices for every man, woman, and child on the planet. By 2025 those numbers could rise to about 10 per person.
More and more products are being given online connectivity. The world of connected devices includes such weird and wonderful products as smart forks and even smart salt shakers.
The Internet of Things, or IoT, has long been considered the next great revolution in technology. IoT home automation is just one of the impressive ways that these connected devices can make our lives easier. But what exactly is IoT home automation?
Read on as we take an in-depth look at the technology, and how you can put it to good use in your own home.
What Is the Internet of Things?
The Internet of Things is almost exactly what it sounds like.
When we think of the internet, we usually think of computers, cell phones, and tablets. But the same technology that allows us to search the internet on our phones or watch movies on our tablets can be put into pretty much any electronic device.
In other words, things other than computers. More than just being a network of computers, the Internet of Things is a network of fridges, televisions, robot vacuum cleaners, doorbells, lightbulbs, and yes, even salt shakers.
By adding internet connectivity to all of these devices, it allows them to speak to each other, sharing information about their current state, as well as letting them be controlled remotely.
What’s the Point?
Why is this of any use to us? It’s all very good being able to connect a lightbulb to the internet, but what purpose does it serve?
The answer is that on its own it serves very little purpose. But once you introduce a way to communicate with these devices, read their data, and send them commands, then you suddenly have a huge arsenal of technology, all ready to do whatever you tell it to.
One of the most powerful uses of IoT is home automation.
Taking Control of Your Tech
The challenge with home automation has always been that this technology has grown organically. Different tech companies have developed products to their own standards, meaning there is a huge range of devices working on different protocols.
Thankfully, there are a number of ways to control all of these different devices.
One of the easiest ways to control multiple devices is by using a smart hub.
A smart hub is a device designed to be able to communicate across the different protocols that exist in IoT devices. Some of the most popular protocols include Zigbee, Z-Wave, Bluetooth, and WiFi. Your hub can send out signals using a wide range of these protocols.
Your home automation commands are sent to the smart hub and the hub translates them into the appropriate protocol to send to your smart device.
IFTTT stands for If This Then That.
It is an online system that allows you to control a wide range of smart devices as well as being able to read data from them. You can set up your own recipes to control your devices. So for example, IF it’s time for sunset THEN turn on the lamp.
Because all the hard work happens online, there’s no need for a smart hub.
If you love to tinker, then you can even build your own smart hub.
Software such as OpenHAB allows you to program your own home automation using a large library of software modules that work with various pieces of smart tech. You’ll need something to run the software on; your home computer or an Arduino microcontroller will do the job. It allows you to build a smart home hub exactly to your own specifications.
What Can I Automate at Home?
All of this tech is very clever, but how can you actually use it in the real world?
Read on as we take a look at some of the types of home automation tech out there, and how you can use them in your own home.
One of the most common routes into the world of home automation is through smart lightbulbs.
The dominant player in the field is Philips Hue. Philips offers a range of smart lightbulbs and lamps that you can control via the internet. One of the most popular products is their colored bulbs, which can produce 16 million different colors and can be easily controlled by smart speakers such as an Amazon Echo or Google Home.
The uses for smart lights in your home are many.
You can use presence detection to get your lights to turn on when you get to your front door. You can set your lights to turn on and off when you are away, to make it look as if there are people at home.
You can link them to smoke detector so that they will flash red if there is a fire in your home. You can even set them up to mirror the colors of your television when you’re watching a movie, to enhance the atmosphere.
Home security is another great use of IoT technology. Home security systems used to be very expensive, but you can now build your own at a fraction of the cost.
Products such as the Ring Floodlight Camera protect your home by allowing you to monitor the camera feed from your phone. Motion detection will alert you to any movement outside your house, and the floodlights can be set to turn on when they detect any movement.
You can even see, hear, and speak to someone outside your home if you spot them on the camera.
Protecting your home as never been easier with smart tech. As well as smart cameras and floodlights, you can also purchase pressure sensors that will detect someone walking in your home, sensors that will alert you if your windows or doors are opened, and sensors for inside your home that can detect movement and noise.
The ways of using this technology are almost endless. You can set up a smart speaker to play the noise of a dog barking loudly if motion is detected outside your home. Or you can simply program it to give an announcement that a break-in has been detected and the police are on their way to scare off any burglars who are in the act.
The best part is, you can monitor all of this tech even if you’re not home, so you’re protected even if you’re thousands of miles away.
Another highly popular piece of IoT tech is the Nest Thermostat.
This smart device measures the temperature of your home and can control your heating system to make sure you’re exactly as warm as you want to be. It also learns your habits, so if you turn the heat up each morning for breakfast, it will start doing it for you.
Smart devices of this type can also control hot water systems and air conditioning, keeping the temperature just right without you having to lift a finger.
Using this tech, you can set temperatures for specific times of the day. If you’re at work all day, you can keep the heating to a minimum, and have it automatically turn on and heat up the house just in time for you to walk in the door.
You can combine it with presence detection so that the heating will turn off when no one is home. Used properly that can give you significant savings on your heating bills.
Smoke and CO Detection
Nest also offers a smoke and carbon monoxide detector to keep you and your family safe.
This works in the same way as traditional smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, but rather than just emitting an audible alarm to alert you to the emergency, the Nest Protect can also alert you via your phone.
You can set up home automation scenes that will come into play if your Nest detects smoke or carbon monoxide is detected.
For example, if smoke is detected, and you are away from home, you can trigger an automation that will turn off any appliances. It means if smoke is coming from something such as a washing machine, you may be able to stop the problem before a fire breaks out.
You can also set it up to automatically send a message to your neighbors if you’re away from home and smoke or carbon monoxide are detected.
Presence detection is a gateway to a whole range of automation.
There are a number of ways that you can detect presence. You can use noise or motion sensors, or you can even use the location of your smartphone to determine whether you are home or away.
Whichever method you use, knowing when someone is at home can be used in a variety of ways.
Energy saving is one of the best reasons to set up presence detection. You can automatically turn off the heating when everyone has left the house. Compared to using a timed system, this can save you some serious money.
Presence detection can also turn on the lights when you get home. No more fumbling for the keys in the dark, or walking into a pitch-black house.
You can even set up presence detection to turn a dim light on if you need to visit the bathroom in the night. It means you can find your way safely without turning the light on fully and waking yourself up even more.
IoT Home Automation with Dumb Tech
Not every piece of electronic equipment you own can connect to the internet. The good news is that there are ways of using IoT home automation even with your dumb tech.
Smart plugs are the same as ordinary plugs, except for one thing: they’re connected to the internet.
It means that you can turn on the power to devices that don’t have internet connectivity, vastly increasing the number of things that you can control. You can control almost anything that has a plug this way.
If you like to wake up to the smell of coffee, simply plug your coffee machine into a smart plug. You can then set a time for the machine to turn on, or even have it turn on when motion is detected so it knows you’ve woken up.
If you’re concerned about the amount of energy you waste when your television is on standby, you can use a smart plug to switch it off whenever you leave the house or go to bed.
IR blasters are another piece of tech that can let you control devices that don’t have internet connectivity.
An IR blaster is just a way of sending out the infrared signals that remote controls use. You can program them to learn the signals sent out by any remote that you own.
If you have remote-controlled AC, you can use an IR blaster to turn it on and off. With home automation, you can then combine this with a thermostat to automatically turn the AC on when your home reaches a certain temperature, or turn it off when it gets too cool.
If you don’t own a smart TV, you can use an IR blaster to turn on your television or change the channels. Combine it with a smart speaker, and you can control your TV with just your voice.
Are You Looking to Set up Home Automation?
As you can see, the possibilities with this tech are almost endless. If you’re ready to dive into the incredible world of IoT home automation then we’re to help.
We have plenty of great content to help you decide amongst the huge range of IoT devices out there. Whether you’re looking for the best smart bulbs, or just looking for the right Alexa speaker, our tips and reviews will point you in the right direction.
We’ve also got some great tips about how to use home automation to turn your home into a smart home. Feel free to take a good look around the site, and let us help you start your journey into the world of home automation today.