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The Era of Smart Homes

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Energy preservation, global warming, smart devices, and voice-control. Do these terms excite you? The dawn of the 21st century has brought about a surge in technological advancement, with connectivity being a prime sphere of development. This brings to us, consumers, a lot of facilities and securities, but are we on the whole headed into a dimmer future?

A stroll through this article could have you wondering, and take an action!

The context of the question lies in the fact that a fair part of our daily electricity usage is utilized in phantom power.

Phantom power is the term given to the power used by devices in their sleeping, or idle state. Many electrical devices, primarily the ones that provide infotainment, spend most of their time in idle mode, waiting for a user to flick them on with the least hassle. All of this energy consumption to allow us to use our remote controls, instead of turning on or off the switch? Well, one can’t blame us for using this feature, and for many people, (senior citizen, disabled personnel, etc.), this is a necessity! But there surely has to be a better way to curtail this energy consumption, and a part of our problem can be solved by integrating some smartness into our homes. 

  • Contrary to popular belief, it is very easy and pocket friendly to turn any traditional home into a smart home.
  • At the very least, a smart home can provide a user access to turn on and off their devices remotely, thereby reducing the phantom power usage, and at the same time providing the convenience.
  • On a bigger picture, smart devices can learn from and anticipate their user’s behavior, taking part of the household control off their shoulders.
  • With advanced machine learning and natural language processing it is possible to use off-the-shelf devices to integrate a far superior level of artificial intelligence in a smart home. This provides a very natural interface to interact with devices, very similar to having an actual assistant do the job.

While Google has been a pioneer of innovation and AI in our generation, it is Amazon that brought us access to such an experience with Alexa, Amazon’s cloud based assistant.

Alexa experience is available through an array of gateway devices introduced by Amazon. The entry-level Echo Dot has been recently launched in India, ready for integration with many devices that support Alexa.

Google on the other hand has introduced its Google Home Assistant devices, that works very similar to the “OK Google” that many of us are familiar with. Google Home Mini is comparable in size and cost with Echo Dot, both providing voice activated actions along with hundreds of other facilities.

“It’s all very well having smartness and convenience at hand, but how do these things help greenify my carbon-footprint!”, one would wonder.

The smart home controllers work in conjunction with node devices that are attached to the outlets of any device that you may want to control.

These node devices themselves use much less power than the devices they generally control, and thus are helpful in reducing electricity consumption. On top of that, many devices can provide a much granular control, such as dimmable lights, automatic lights, HVAC systems that adapt to environmental situations and body activity to efficiently heat or cool the space, etc. The list goes on as the technology develops, and in the coming years, we can only expect more. Don’t forget, saving electricity and greenifying is only a part of the objective, with ease-of-access and more control being more exciting! So where do I begin?

As of this writing the most plausible advice for a newcomer into the world of smart devices for home would be to get their hands on a Google Home device, or an Amazon Alexa device. The former provides good integration with Android smartphones that many of us already own. Along with one of these, one would require an end device (or node device) that can be used in conjunction with Google Home or Amazon Alexa.

To conclude, the future is already here, and now being the time to get hands dirty with a smart home system! Not only would you get exciting facilities and features, but also be able to have a more detailed control over your devices, save electricity, and help reduce global warming. All this with devices available off the shelf today, and usable at any traditional or modern home.

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An impulsive writer and compulsive procrastinator, she energizes her daily grind with coffee, diversions and discourse. All she need to get through life is a flawlessly brewed coffee to accompany her vacillation and is lethargically motivated. On days when she is not writing, you’ll find her reading, watching movies and pigging out. Usually an escapist from worldly problem, seeking solace in books and food. Has a master’s degree in classical dance and has left no corners undiscovered when it comes to being creative and learning an art. A crazy coffee sweetheart who earnestly trusts in the magical power of words.