Imagine coming home to your favorite lavender scent. The lights in your living room turn at just the right brightness and with the shade of your preferred color. The pets have been fed through automatic feeders you control remotely. In the kitchen, dinner had started cooking 30 minutes before you arrived, and is now ready. All that’s left for you to do now is relax.
This is the promise of the intelligent home designed to meet individual needs and give homeowners the most comfortable living experience possible. Moreover, it offers more than mere comfort. Automated security systems protect the house from calamities and intruders, as well.
All these advantages are possible through a network of the Internet of Things (IoT) applications, which provide the technological foundation for intelligent homes. Meanwhile, architecture and design ensure that the resulting applications are ergonomic. So as a result, this combination of technology and design produces the functionality you’d come to expect from an intelligent home. Programmable lighting, advanced security features, automated temperature control, intelligent appliances, and integrated communication systems are just a few examples of these features.
Very impressive, indeed. And yet, there are deeper issues that need to be addressed before we can really feel at home with the idea.
Intelligent Home: Challenges
As new technologies become available, we need to understand how they affect our lives. Here are some of the most pressing issues facing intelligent homes and their inhabitants.
Dependence on technology
One of the concerns about intelligent homes is that they bring our dependence on technology to a whole new level. Connected appliances, for example, need the Internet so we can maximize their usefulness. Does this mean that we are helpless if this link is taken away from us?
Intelligent homes also expose us to the same security risks that computer systems and networks constantly face. You may not realize it, but hackers can and have successfully infiltrated multiple smart home systems to spy on households. Since the IoT produces loads of data that reveal homeowners’ preferences, chances are criminals will go to great lengths to grab this information.
Extra layer of complexity
Arguably the most inconvenient feature of intelligent homes is that they add an extra layer of complexity to our already complicated lives. We need to navigate the learning curve for the technologies involved, and some of these may be quite steep. We may also need to adjust our lifestyles and activities to maximize the benefits of these new features.
Privacy intrusion is among the biggest concerns when it comes to intelligent homes. We’ve already seen several incidents where more unscrupulous marketers use smart devices to eavesdrop on the conversations of unsuspecting homeowners. So smart technology is proving problematic for consumers especially since some manufacturers attribute privacy issues to users who activate devices’ listening features with or without meaning to.
Ever notice why most smart home owners are quite rich? That’s mainly because of their high cost. Average homeowners would have to lose an arm and a leg to incorporate smart devices into their homes. Hope is not lost, however, as tech giants like Google and Amazon are now offering smart products at more affordable prices.
The Tenant vs. Landlord Argument
To gain a competitive edge, more and more landlords are integrating intelligent home features into their rental properties. Sometimes, though, this practice poses issues on who controls the embedded smart devices. Tenants fear that landlords who remain in control are invading their privacy. Regulations may need to be put in place to remedy the issue.
Visions of futuristic homes certainly seem amazing. Nevertheless, just like for every significant technology that impacts our lives, we need to think through its nuances.
Intelligent Home Applications
Despite the cons listed above, the arrival of smart homes seems inevitable. Let’s take a look at what has already been undertaken today in designing an intelligent home.
- Appliance usage adjusts according to current needs, like lights turning off in an unoccupied room.
- Alerts are sent regarding in-home activities, so owners can identify when there is unnecessary energy usage.
- Monitoring devices like cameras and sensors, smart lock systems, and alert systems notify the owners and authorities in case of a break-in attempt.
- Remote control lets homeowners monitor appliances as well as suggest their presence even if they’re away.
- Appliances like robot vacuums, pet feeders, and automatic sprinklers can do chores according to owners’ schedules.
- Users can employ If This Then That (IFTTT) and other commands, e.g., “if I receive a phone call, then the television’s volume should lower.”
- The sound system, temperature, fragrance, and lighting can be adjusted to enhance the sensory experience.
- Settings check occupants’ health. For example, a smart bed studies the health condition of a person to provide the best sleep quality.
- Sound systems can be devised to provide the best surround experience within the house.
- Lighting can be completely transformed to give life to any event.
Intelligent home offers many promising ways to improve people’s lives, but we also need to be aware of how its comforts and conveniences can make us inescapably dependent on technology.