Having a smart home has been part of the American dream for decades, thanks largely to movies and TV shows featuring personal and intelligent gadgets that cater to humans’ every whim. These days, it’s possible to create a real-life smart home — but you have to be smart about it.
Because smart tech is relatively new, you need to be careful how you assemble your menagerie of smart tools to ensure they work in sync and provide you the control you crave. Here are a few tips for making a smart home smartly.
Stick to One System
As yet, there are a few producers of smart home devices, and they don’t necessarily play nice together. The big names in smart products, namely Amazon, Google and Apple, want consumers to become brand loyal and thus create systems that don’t easily accept outsider devices. Less-recognizable smart home systems might be more amenable to a variety of device developers, but they might also come with less functionality, lower-quality design, security gaps and similar issues.
Thus, before you start building your smart home, you need to decide once and for all what system you will use. If you already have a handful of smart home devices, you should investigate what systems they integrate with and commit to one of those for the remainder of your smart home. As you do this, you should remember that just because a big name is attached to the tech doesn’t necessarily mean the tech is better; you should always read compare prices, read user reviews and test products to determine what devices are right for you.
Unfortunately, smart tech isn’t as secure as most people expect it to be. Smart home devices are the very latest and greatest in tech, and competition in the market is pushing developers to produce new tools faster and faster. In many cases, that means developers are not searching as thoroughly for vulnerabilities in the software or else leaving in bugs and gaps of which they are aware. Devs expect they can release patches after product release to fix these problems, but because users often don’t know about the security failings and also don’t know how to install software and firmware updates, poor security lingers.
When building your smart home, you need to be aware of common issues with security. You should familiarize yourself with installation of smart tech updates, which usually occurs through a smart hub or a connected computer. You might consider creating a second Wi-Fi network on which to place your smart home, so if a device is compromised, your computers and smartphones won’t also be attacked.
It’s important that all members of your family understand how to use your smart home securely — and that includes kids. Even younger children can be taught how to safely interact with smart tech and avoid divulging information that data companies or hackers might find valuable. If even one person in your household isn’t smart about smart tech, your entire system will behave less than optimally.
Use Your Smart Home
Even after you set everything up and integrate strong security measures, there is one final way to be smart about smart devices: You need to take full advantage of your smart home. Because smart technology is relatively new, you might not have the habit of calling on your smart devices when you need them. That’s why it’s important to start with the right kind of smart tech.
By investing in products you know will bring you benefit, you are guaranteeing that your smart home will become a valuable feature of your lifestyle. You should start with products like thermostats and home security tools, which function semi-passively but allow your smart input. Once you become accustomed to this type of smart tool, you can begin adding devices like light bulbs, window shades and even large appliances to your smart home.
Technology is giving you more power over your environment than ever before, but if you don’t have a plan for your smart home before you start, all that power could go to waste. So, you should practice using your smart home often, so it becomes an important part of your life.