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Smart Homes – The Good, The Bad and The Stupid

It is not just the human race which is becoming smarter with each passing day, as our homes are getting smarter too! A speaker is no longer just a speaker. It can place calls, play our favourite songs and perform internet searches, all with just a simple voice command.

But as is the case with most things, there’s a good, bad and stupid side to smart home technology. Let’s find out what we mean…

The Good

Presently, most of the devices that make use of smart technology are those that revolve around ambient home features such as cooling, heating, and lighting. One such device that has undergone the smart revolution is thermostats. They can adjust our home’s temperature in such a way that our energy consumption is minimised but our comfort is not at all compromised.

You may have seen advertisements on television in which brands flaunt their smart lighting solutions. These products work in a similar fashion and fulfill the same purpose of understanding our lighting priorities and keeping our energy consumption in check. They study our lighting patterns and replicate them in our homes. They are smart enough to learn that nobody is in the house and turn the lights off even if we may have forgotten to do it.

Fancy yourself to a personal assistant? With Alexa and Google Home, this fantasy of yours comes true to an extent. These virtual voice assistants come next on our list of widely used and popular smart home technology products. They can play music, read out the news to us and remind us of our engagements which have been entered in our personal calendar.

They can also be synced with other smart items in the house. For instance, if you’re relaxing on the couch and feel like watching something on the television you could simply say ‘Google, watch Stranger things from Netflix on my living room TV’. The lights will turn off and the show will begin without you having to lift your finger.

The Bad

It would be fun and convenient if the virtual assistant actually hears everything. But some smart home products just don’t seem to hear us that well. Suppose you have a smart coffee maker at home, but if you have to yell at it first thing in the morning, you wouldn’t really need caffeine to drive the sleep away.

Let’s assume that your smart ass thermostat faces a software glitch which drains the batteries really quick. It may not be as easy to fix as their mechanical counterparts. Overriding the settings may not even be an option. If it takes a week to get resolved you would have to shiver through seven nights before you can finally begin to sleep well.

For this reason, sticking with manual products that are reliable could be smarter than purchasing automated appliances which are not always smart.

Another concern that many people have raised is how these products intrude our privacy. While we may appreciate smart nanny cams when spying on our baby’s nanny, it can be discomforting to know that they can spy on us too if they ever get hacked.

These products also make use of our identity and location information which hackers can easily gain access to. Many people believe that they should wait for another generation of smart home products to roll out in the market which is more secure and reliable to use.

There are many ways you can protect your home, such as by writing a Will using a free Will template, but how will you protect your own privacy when there are smart devices lurking around in the house and you have no control over what data is sent back to the companies?

The Stupid

The trend of smart products is catching up fast. But in the quest of making things smarter, we may not always make wise choices. Following are some of the products that were intended to be smart but actually turned out to be quite stupid:

A smart toaster which costs a bombshell claims that it can cook everything to perfection. It is equipped with a built-in camera which identifies what we’re making and also gives us suggestions on how to make it.

For those who are obsessed with good fragrances, there are smart home fragrance devices which can be turned on while we are still on our way to home. Now your house will smell good as soon as you step in.

There are also smart hair brushes in the market which apparently measures the acceleration of the brush as it passes through our hair. It’s highly doubtful that even the manufacturers know what we should do with this information.

Smart home technology has been a field of research for many years now and it is safe to assume that we are only beginning to reap the benefits of it. There’s scope for many more things to become smart and for the smart to get smarter.

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