The Internet of Things (IoT) is not a new concept – having been subtly making its way into our lives for some time through new, hi-tech household appliances. But until now, the idea of intelligent devices actually being woven into the very fabric of our homes – as opposed to existing as a convenient add-on for the more tech-savvy among us – has belonged in the realm of geeks.
Amazon’s Echo has changed all that. This smart speaker uses voice recognition to keep you updated on the latest news, travel and weather. But it doesn’t end there: the Echo’s virtual personal assistant Alexa can control your music system, heating thermostat and even your lighting. She can also create grocery shopping lists, order online, read audiobooks and work as an alarm.
Such accessible technology is already bringing about a step change in the way we secure our homes – with smart lighting, doorbells and locks already on the market that make it harder for thieves to target our properties.
Looking to the future, here we look at technology such as drones and artificial intelligence that will be integrated into our homes making them even smarter and safer:
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How to make your home smarter
You might think you’re not tech-savvy enough to have a smart home or that it’s way out of your budget, but the good news is that as the technology evolves and becomes more popular, the prices will drop and it will become more accessible. Listed below are a few pieces of tech that won’t necessarily break the bank…
An all-round solution
Panasonic Smart Home allows you to control and monitor your home from your smartphone or tablet. Whether it’s keeping an eye on your home while you’re away, turning your lighting, heating and appliances on and off, or working as a security alarm, you can scale and adapt this product to suit your needs and budget. http://www.panasonic.com/uk/
Keeping your bills down
The WeMo Insight Switch connects your home appliances and electronic devices to your Wi-Fi network, allowing you to turn your devices on and off and keep an eye on your energy usage. This is ideal if you want to monitor energy guzzlers like wall heaters, washing machines and tumble dryers. It also works with Amazon’s Alexa. http://www.belkin.com/uk/
The ultimate door lock
The Yale Keyless Connected Smart Lock allows you to lock and unlock your door using your smartphone, a PIN code or a key card. The beauty is you can choose who does and doesn’t have access to your home. For example, you can set a PIN code that works for 24 hours for a tradesperson. http://www.yalestore.co.uk
Keeping your smart home secure
With all your home appliances connected to the internet you might be worried about your data security. Here are three measures to take to stop your home from being hacked…
Use unique passwords – if an appliance comes with a default password update it immediately as hackers can easily find these on online forums.
Complete security updates – smart home devices don’t update automatically so ensure you check for and download any updates on a monthly basis.
Use two-step authentication – many websites and apps offer two-step authentication where you can input a security key or one-time code, as well as your password. This will help keep unknown users out of smart devices and apps.