Heard of the term “internet of things”, but you aren’t sure what it is?
What can the internet of things do, and what does it mean? And is it the same as “smart home”?
We’ve got answers for you.
Let’s dive right in.
What is the Internet of Things?
The Internet of Things (often written as “IoT” for short), in its most basic sense, is the communication of devices with each other, all of them connected to the internet, and all of them sending and receiving data without human interaction.
The Internet of Things also includes wide-ranging network with enormous amounts of data, all of it included in an ever-expanding IoT ecosystem.
However, the interconnectivity of devices is the fundamental basis of the terminology.
Hence the term “of things”, because instead of us communicating directly with specific devices, in this case the devices “talk” amongst themselves.
IoT therefore encapsulates everything from smartphones to smart watches, connected toasters to autonomous farming equipment, your favorite wearable fitness tracker to your smart thermostat at home.
The range of IoT enormous, comprising a gigantic network of connected “things”. This is also leading to smart cities and smart power grids, which can help us reduce waste and also improve efficiency.
What is smart home then?
Smart home, sometimes also called home automation, is a specific branch of IoT that focuses on home appliances and devices.
Smart home devices can therefore be anything from lights, thermostats, robotic vacuum cleaners, and home security devices, to connected refrigerators that know when you are running low on milk.
Some will even display recipes on the fridge door according to what is already on hand at home!
How is IoT making homes smart?
With the ability to connect to the internet and consequently to each other, devices such as your washing machine, lights, speakers, TV and thermostats can communicate with you.
They can let you know when your laundry is done, when the temperature in your home is too high, or cue up your favorite football match the moment you walk in the door.
Want to get a push notification on your phone when the humidity in your room is too high? That’s IoT. Or you want to know if your loved ones are safe? That’s also IoT.
How do IoT or smart home devices work?
Smart home products often will connect to a central hub or “gateway”, but not always. Many devices come with their own specific app, where the user can use and monitor the device directly on their smartphone or tablet. In certain smart home cases, there may still be a wall-mounted interface.
Often the device will send the user updates, in case anything looks out of the ordinary or needs attention. This is becoming more and more sophisticated, where the device can learn the natural habits of its user and tailor its performance to the user’s specific needs.
What does the future hold for smart home?
Imagine, your car garage knows when you have arrived home, which then signals to turn your lights on, turn up the heating and perhaps even order your favorite food from a delivery service.
Or perhaps you would rather get a list of recipes based on what is currently in your fridge.
Greater compatibility between devices: Devices will start integrating and communicating with each other on a more frequent basis, providing the ultimate user experience.
This is currently still in its infancy, but has already made great strides within the last few years.
Smarter Apps: Apps will start to recognize when something is out of the ordinary, which can lead to greater health, safety, and a sense of well-being.
This is especially relevant for older family members, where a smart home product can alert others in case of an emergency.
Even Greater Savings: With smart appliances, you can now run the dishwasher or washing machine when electricity is at its cheapest, not only saving you money but also cutting down on greenhouse gases.
The same applies for your home thermostat, which can turn itself off once the desired room temperature has been reached.
Or even smart sprinklers can shut off once a certain amount of water is used.
IoT is the interconnection of devices via the internet, allowing them all to send and receive data, without the need for human interaction.
Smart home is a significant part of IoT, where internet-connected appliances and devices are automatically controlled, often with a mobile phone.
Nearly all predictions point towards a massive increase in sales of smart home products over the next decade, and smart home becoming more and more an everyday part of our lives.