Smart Home Devices and Technologies
With the advent of smartphones and portable computers, the possibility of integrating many of these devices in our homes has become possible. Most often, devices are categorized into five categories: communication devices, entertainment devices, personal digital assistants (PDAs), and virtual personal assistants (VPA). Entertainment and communication devices are used for communication, controlling entertainment programs, playing music, watching videos, and surfing the web. PDAs are used to keep in touch with family members and friends and can perform many more everyday tasks such as making calls, texting, emailing, and organizing schedules.
Personal digital assistants (PDAs) are similar to smartphones and can perform similar functions but are not allowed to access the internet and do not have cameras or other external applications. A smart home device is a computer networked to the internet or other networks, usually using other wireless protocols like Bluetooth, Zigbee, Wi-Fi, NFC, GSM, etc. This allows for automatic control of the devices. Such devices can include smart house devices like thermostats and lighting systems, window and door locks, security systems, garage doors, smoke detectors, televisions, security cameras, remote-controlled appliances, digital watches, MP3 players, DVD players, and other electronic items. All of these can be controlled and powered by a single application from anywhere in the world through a web connection.
One of the most exciting developments in the area of smart home devices is the introduction of Alexa, a voice assistant that interacts with users similar to an on-site human operator. Echo, as the name suggests, is an artificially intelligent voice assistant that responds to specific questions and requests through an internet connection and speakers. The first generation of Echo devices included a small form factor smartphone that transmitted the voice commands to the larger unit and then to the speakers. A second-generation model uses a speakerphone with an audio output connection to allow the user to hear and speak to Alexa.
Consumers have expressed frustration with traditional thermostats because they cannot program them to the desired temperature. Alexa is controlled by the user and provides customized comfort settings. It can be programmed to respond to specific actions such as “set the temperature to seventy degrees”, “show the temperature in the kitchen”, or “switch the lights” to give the user a sense of control over their home environment. While there are many types of smart thermostats on the market, one of the most exciting is the iControl Thermostat, which is controlled by a smartphone. This device uses both the Internet and a touchscreen that allow the homeowner to program it to the desired temperature via the smartphone app.
The iControl iWater is a unique device that serves three functions. First, if the homeowner desires to have an outdoor faucet connected to the device, he or she simply needs to enroll in the program. Then, when guests arrive, they can fill a glass with water from the tap and place their order for whatever they desire. If they prefer not to fill a glass, they can just fill a pitcher or other container with ice water and serve beverages like tea and coffee.
The other two smart home devices on the market are the iControl Thermostat and the iHome Weatherproof Alarm. The iControl Thermostat provides the same services as its predecessor, the iWater Smart Thermostat, while also offering several new features. As the name implies, the first feature of the iControl Thermostat is temperature control. When the device is switched on, it will monitor the indoor temperature and adjust the unit’s temperature accordingly. If there is a fluctuation in the indoor temperature, the unit will halt operations until the temperature reaches a comfortable level.
The other two smart home devices on the market offer similar or very similar services. For example, both the iControl Thermostat and the iHome Weatherproof Alarm both monitor the indoor temperature and will shut the machine off if it dips below a certain level. Both devices also use the same kind of technology to determine when the machine needs to be turned off. The only major difference between these two devices is the manner in which they accomplish this task. iControl uses an electronic circuit while the iHome Weatherproof Alarm uses a combination of temperature and door sensors.
Smartphones with smart home automation capabilities provide people with another great tool. With smartphones are becoming so affordable, smart home devices are fast replacing traditional desktop computers. These devices allow people to keep track of not only temperature levels in their homes but also the relative humidity, the light level inside, the amount of electricity consumed, and many other activities throughout their house. Smartphones with these capabilities allow people to take control of their lives in ways never thought possible.
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