What is a Smart House?

SmartHouse, or Smart House, refers to the act of making your house smart. But how can a house–or any residence–be smart? And if it does becomes smart, what could go wrong? This line of questioning could have you envisioning a few unsettling scenarios in your mind. And thanks to popular culture, the image below could be one of them.

Smart House movie poster
Disney’s take on a SmartHouse from the 90s

Over the course of my years as a Software Engineer at both Amazon and Apple, I spent most of my time helping to make homes smarter–whether you lived in a suburban house or a city apartment. One of the largest hurdles I found in the industry was general awareness. Most people aren’t aware a Smart House exists and how it can improve everyday life. Or if they do know it exists, people are intimidated by it, believing they need an years of education to understand or use it.

To dispel these misconceptions, let’s get into what a Smart House really is.

What really is a Smart House?

A Smart House goes by a few different industry terms, the most popular being Smart Home or Connected Home. Regardless of which name you use, they all refer to the same idea: using technology to add new ways to control and interact with your devices at home.

Smart Lights are the perfect example to help solidify the idea. Let’s talk about the difference between a Light Bulb and a Smart Light Bulb.

With a regular Light Bulb, you have one way to control it –the switch on the wall. With a Smart Light Bulb, you can still use the wall switch, but now you can control your Smart Light Bulb in other new ways, like from your computer, phone, or you can tell a Voice Assistant to control it for you. And because you can now interact with a Smart Light Bulb in new ways, it makes new features possible, like light colors.

What does “Smart” really mean?

Disney’s example above equated a Smart House to a self-aware entity that sees and knows everything. Since it knows all, the Smart House itself begins to address all of your needs. Some need that you want it to address, and some that you don’t. This is a common misinterpretation to the word “smart”. But don’t worry, a Smart House doesn’t mean your house magically has consciousness. Your house doesn’t just start doing things for you. Having a Smart Home also doesn’t mean letting this guy in your home to make you breakfast.

Terminator, not a fan of Smart Tech
Terminator is not in fact back

Instead, a Smart House is the same residence you have today, but with newer devices that use the internet and technology to make your life better. Convenience and ease of use are just a few of the benefits, but there are many more.

What’s in a Smart House?

You won’t find Pat or The Terminator in a Smart House. Instead, a Smart House is made up of a bunch of individual smart devices, all connected together to the internet and your home. There are many kinds of smart devices today, but most fall into a handful of smart device categories.

You’ll find that there are a bunch of smart devices out there that can have a real positive impact on your quality of life. The flip side is true too, as some devices will cause you more annoyance than convenience. Cutting through all the marketing noise and getting what you want is the challenge.

To start out, I suggest reading these articles on Smart Lights and Smart Plugs. These device categories are the foundation of any home that can be called smart today. You’ll benefit from the most from these smart devices initially and they are the really fun to play with and get up and running.

Will Smart Houses ever be truly be “Smart”?

Smart Home Gauge Empty
The intelligence of Smart Homes now.

The Smart Home space is really exciting these days with lots of new technology coming out all the time. While Smart Houses aren’t exactly smart today, there are some things you can do to move the needle now.

Smart Home is all about adding new ways to control your devices, right? Instead of controlling things directly, you now have other systems control your devices for you. This is the general idea behind something called Home Automation. Home Automation introduces more of the real magic of what it means to have a Smart Home, and we’ll cover more of that in the next post.

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