What is a “Smart Home” and Why Should You Want One?

20 October 2017

Home Automation
Home Automation
As the modern world gets more busy and frantic, time gets more precious – we're working longer hours and have to decide carefully how to spend what free time we have. So it's little surprise that more and more new technologies are focused on convenience and automation - taking the more tedious and clunky day-to-day activities out of our lives. These new technologies don’t just stop at convenience either. Many are being designed to help serve the world and make it a more secure and eco-friendly place. As well as being great entertainment pieces when friends are round.

What is a Smart Home?

A Smart Home is a commercial or domestic residence that's fitted with new technologies that you can programme and control from your mobile device or through voice command. Fundamentally, a fully-functioning Smart Home can: • Automate everyday activities, like switching on appliances and lights • Reduce and monitor energy output through heating and electricity • Improve home security – allowing you to remotely check on your home and receive alerts if unusual activity is detected • Enhance entertainment systems – such as selecting music tracks from the touch of a button or a waggling of your very own vocal chords There's a lot more a Smart Home can do – but these are the basics. In short, a Smart Home makes life easier and more convenient, while also saving you a bundle of time and money.

What types of Smart Technology are there?

There's an ever-increasing array of weird and wonderful smart technologies out there, so we've picked a few of our favourites (and ones that genuinely have a use) below:

Save time with Neato Botvac

Neato Botvac D7 Nobody likes to vacuum. It's for this reason why they invent handy little things like Neato Botvac. OK, so we've probably all seen other attempts at automated robot vacuums – usually rickety little things that bumble around bashing into table legs and unsuspecting pets. But Neato is a robot vacuum with a difference. It comes with laser technology that diligently scans the room for dirt, dust and crumbs before deploying a methodical cleaning process that gets into all the nooks and crannies. It also comes with: • A larger cleaning brush than competitors • Automated charging process when the battery is low • Programmable daily cleaning schedule • Anti-allergy filtering system • Edge-to-edge precise cleaning brush • Boundary markers so it doesn't go anywhere you don't want it to

Improve security with Nest Cam

Nest Cam Lifestyle Image The family home's security is often a worry for holiday goers up and down the country before they jet off to exotic lands beyond our humble isles. With Nest Cam, you can keep an eye on your home from anywhere in the world to keep any lingering fears at bay. The easy to use plug-and-play camera records everything it sees, and you get both indoor and outdoor versions. You can view through the lens of the camera via your phone. And it comes with a microphone, so you can talk and listen through it too. Nest Cam can also: • Send alerts to your phone when Nest Cam detects unnatural motion or sounds • Take snapshots if you see anything suspicious on your phone • Create area-specific alerts – such as around bike lock-ups and garages • Stream HD for better clarity • Span 130° and zoom in on details

Entertain friends and family with Amazon Echo

Amazon Echo All Colours It's no secret – Amazon is taking over the world whether we like it or not, and their latest device has got everyone talking: the Amazon Echo - a smart speaker device. It really is the future now, making a Black Mirror episode look almost outdated. It's completely voice controlled, handling everything from playing your favourite tunes, to switching on your lights or toggling the thermostat. It'll even read a book to you too! And as technology evolves, so does the Amazon Echo, as it's able to update itself as new innovations are released. In summary, the Amazon Echo can: • Play your favourite and different music across multiple rooms – which will resolve any family disputes over who gets control over the speakers • Control your lights, heating and switches when linked with other compatible devices such as Philips Hue and Nest Thermostats • Read your favourite audiobooks as you kick up your feet and relax • Answer questions on everything from the weather to your favourite team's score • Recognise your voice in even the nosiest of conditions And you don't even have to lift a finger – just speak to it. It's almost scary isn't it....?

Save energy and money with Philips Hue

Philips Hue Lifestyle Image Philips Hue LED bulbs feature the latest lighting technology, consuming minimal energy – 90% less than traditional bulbs, in fact – to save you hundreds in electricity bills. And that's not even the best bit. You can control your Philips Hue light bulbs using your smartphone or tablet device from anywhere in the world. You can also hook them up to an Amazon Echo speaker and control them using your voice. Each bulb comes with an incredible 16 million shades of colour tone, so you can really set the ambience you want, from subtle tones for a romantic night in, to an eclectic mix to get the party started. The Philips Hue lighting system is the latest step for LED technology as it enters the world of Smart Homes. The main benefits of a Philips Hue lighting system are: • Control from anywhere in the world using your phone or tablet • Hook up with a voice controlled device – such as Amazon Echo • Set light schedules to keep your energy bills down • Use up to 90% less energy when compared to standard bulbs • Sync with music and films to create a truly immersive atmosphere

Learn more about Smart Home and Home Automation...

If you want to explore this topic further before taking the plunge, you can learn more at the following locations: How to get started with home automation Live Smart to save hundreds: How investing in smart home technology will reduce your energy bills by 100s of pounds Six Philips Hue apps for Android that you just have to try