The concept of smart homes that make life easier and more connected has been around since the 1930s, but it’s a series of relatively recent innovations that turned the stuff of science fiction into a modern-day asset that many homeowners are now looking to embrace.
As you consider all that the smart home can offer in terms of security, convenience and lifestyle, it’s interesting to reflect on the five innovations that made smart homes a reality.
The history of the internet has humble beginnings in the 1950s, but it wasn’t until the 1970s that the net as we know it began to take shape.
The internet would transform the world of telecommunications allowing information to flow freely around the world, transferring data in an instant from location to location.
In the smart home world, the internet offers the framework to talk to your home from afar. It also set the precedent for the Internet of Things, allowing devices to communicate with each other no matter where they are.
In 2019, the Internet of Things will officially notch up 20 years as a concept, and it is an innovation that has made the smart home what it is today.
In simple terms the Internet of Things describes internet-enabled devices that talk to each other. From tablets to smartphones, digital networks and sensors, it encompasses a vast variety of devices and items that interconnect to make life more efficient in the modern world.
So much so, that technology networking giant Cisco estimates the IoT industry will be worth $14.4 trillion for companies and industries worldwide in the next decade, driving profit up by 21%.
The key factor of the Internet of Things is that it has the potential to affect almost every area of our life, from the way we use our homes, to how we shop, how our products are made and received, and how we experience our cities, business and healthcare.
Domestic consumers are among the biggest drivers of the IoT. At present the Average Joe makes up the fourth largest market segment with 5.2 billion units of connected items in 2017, according to Gartner.
And the reason we’re employing IoT? To make our homes more efficient via items like Smart televisions connected to the internet, programmable heating and cooling that we can dial into from our phone, and security systems that can monitor all our shiny new IoT products and more.
Patented in 1996, Wi-Fi is now a feature employed globally to allow devices to connect to the internet without the use of cables. And, believe it or not, Wi-Fi was created right here in Australia.
As SBS explains, a team at Australia’s CSIRO was responsible for the invention of Wi-Fi and the ripples of its success spread across the world.
“Wi-Fi technology has made networking easier in offices, homes and places of education all over the world.
“Today the technology is so widespread there are far, far more Wi-Fi devices than there are human beings; by 2020, there will be close to 40 billion devices worldwide, according to one estimate”.
Since inventing Wi-Fi, the CSIRO has made more than $420 million off the technology, making it the organisation’s best performing commercial enterprise.
In smart home technology, Wi-Fi is one of a number of communication languages that allow devices to talk to each other and take action in the home.
Wi-Fi might have transformed how devices communicate and connect to the internet, but hot on its heels came a further innovation that had very real implications for the smart home.
The technical leap we’re referring to here is mesh networks.
Rather than relying on standard Wi-Fi which sends information back to a single router, mesh networks allow information to hop from one device to the next using very little power.
Effectively this means if one device drops out, the system can remain online by finding an alternative route. In the smart home this is particularly beneficial, eliminating lag and congestion, and the system becomes stronger as more devices are added, with more information paths available.
Most importantly, this means a smart home ecosystem can remain operational even if the internet connection is lost.
When it comes to modern smart home appliances, two the most commonly-known mesh networks are Z-Wave and Zigbee.
At Lera, we use Z-Wave because it allows devices to communicate easily, securely and reliably. The system is usually run via a hub that connects to the internet, but devices can still talk independently with each other.
Due to the low power consumption and reliability, Z-Wave is the perfect connection for sensors, lightbulbs, appliances and more and the technology is now incorporated into 94 million devices (or 70 per cent of the smart home market).
Most people associate the birth of smart phones with the revolutionary launch of the iPhone in 2007, but the original smart phone by IBM actually hit the market some 13 years prior.
Like the modern smartphone it had a touchscreen, email capability and apps. Known as the Simon Personal Communicator it didn’t pack quite the punch the iPhone would later deliver in terms of consumer uptake and usability, and it wasn’t until the late ‘naughties’ that smartphones would become a mainstream device.
Now, Statista notes over a third (34.7 per cent) pf the world’s population owns a smartphone and that penetration is tipped to reach 40 per cent by 2021.
In the smart home world, the smart phone allows home owners to communicate with their home from afar, using apps, voice and geofencing to ensure their homes cater to their every need.
Lera Smart Home Solutions is a leading installer of smart home technology in the greater Sydney region. Our team boasts over 20 years’ experience in IT networking, programming and the electrical industry.
We have sourced the most reliable and cost efficient solutions from around the world to provide the very best in smart home solutions, and work with our clients to understand their needs.