What is Smart Home? Everyhing you need to know



The future has landed with the smart home – appliances and devices which ‘talk’ to one another to make your life easier - here´s everything you need to know...

The future has landed with the smart home - appliances and devices which 'talk' to one another to make your life easier.

Apple, Samsung, LG, British Gas and a host of cutting-edge start-ups are all backing the smart home, and the concept has even made it into the Oxford Dictionary.

A Samsung spokesperson said it will bring 'convenience, control and efficiency' to your home.

But what exactly is it?
In this feature we'll explain the smart home concept and its main benefits as well as detailing the key smart home tech.

What is the smart home?

In the smart home you connect your washing machine, fridge, heating, lighting, doors and TV to the internet and control them through smartphone or tablet apps.

You can find all of our latest Smart Home devices over on our site.

Currys Smart Home Graph

Benefits of the smart home

Because your appliances are hooked up to the web and your smartphone, you can control them from outside the home.

Here are a few examples:

  • Set the washing machine working when you're on the bus home from work
  • Switch off the lights and TV simultaneously before bed using your voice
  • Check whether your fridge has beer in while you're in the supermarket
  • Switch on your central heating as you walk home from the shops
  • Set timers to switch on your lights to help wake you up in the morning

 

The main players of the smart home

Now you're familiar with the basics of the smart home, we will introduce a few of the main providers of smart home technology.

Samsung Smart Home - control appliances and home monitor

Want to control your appliances from your smartphone and monitor your home while away on holiday? Check out the Samsung Smart Home range. The service was launched in the US in April, with other markets to follow later in the year. 

Here are the main benefits:

  • Use the Device Control app on your smartphone to control appliances such as washing machines, lights and smart TVs
  • Has voice command feature - say 'going out' into your Galaxy Gear smartwatch and the home lighting and TV will be switched off for the evening
  • Home View - monitor the insides of your home via your tablet or smartphone while on holiday thanks to cameras built into appliances like TVs
  • Appliances let you know when they need to be cleaned, repaired or replaced - for instance if your washing machine becomes clogged you'll get a message 

Check out this video of Samsung Smart Home from CES 2014 in Las Vegas

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Heatmiser - control your heating

Heatmiser

Ever wish you could turn up your heating from your smartphone as you walk home from work? With services such as the Heatmiser NeoKit 2 you can. 

Here are the main benefits:

  • Control your home heating from your phone or tablet - never come home to a cold house
  • Create a heating programme to suit your lifestyle - whether out at work or at home with the family
  • Adjust your heating temperature from your office or the bus home 

Another smart heating service is British Gas Hive. This also allows you to control your heating from your smartphone and do cool things like setting reminders to turn heating on when heading home or off when heading out using GPS technology. 

Kass Hussain, director of Connected Homes at British Gas, said: "Being able to control your home from your phone means that you don't need to heat an empty home and never come home to a cold one."

 

Lifx - smart lighting

Lifx Smart Lighting

 

Love it when someone on TV turns down the lights by clicking their fingers before moving in for the kill? You're going to love Lifx light bulbs, which put the control of your home's lighting at your fingertips. 

Here are the main benefits:

  • Control your home lighting with a smartphone or tablet app
  • Set lighting modes that fit your mood - whether relaxing or concentrating
  • Choose from pretty much any colour you want
  • Provide 40,000 hours of light before needing to be replaced 
  • Set lights to wake you up naturally by slowly getting brighter  

LG HomeChat - text your appliances

LG Smart Refrigerator With Smartphone New

(Credit: LG)

 

Ever get in from work to find the fridge is empty? Make that a thing of the past with LG HomeChat, a service that lets you text your appliances to find out their contents and activate them remotely. The HomeChat service launched in South Korea earlier this year, with other markets to follow. 

Here are the main benefits:

  • Control various smart appliances with a single smartphone app
  • Text your appliances from your smartphone. It will reply to questions such as 'is there any beer?'
  • Text 'I'm going on vacation' to shut down the fridge, set the robotic vacuum to clean every day and set the washing machine to run the day before you return
  • The chat app is designed to recognise conversational language
  • It lets you know how many beers you have by taking a photo of the fridge's contents whenever you open the door
  • Start laundry from the office and get a text when it's finished

 

Home security  - wireless Netgear camera 

Netgear Wireless Security Cam

 

Ever worry about the safety of your home while you're on holiday or out at work? Give yourself some peace of mind with a new generation of wireless cameras such as the Netgear VueZone day camera

Here are the main benefits: 

  • Small camera can monitor the inside of your home without looking unsightly 
  • Hooks up to your smartphone app - monitor the house when you're at work or on holiday
  • Can be extended with other Netgear devices to create a more complete home security set-up 

Apple HomeKit - control everything from one app Homekit -hero

Love the idea of smart appliances but worry about managing apps from each of the individual manufacturers?  With Apple's newly announced HomeKit software for iOS 8 you'll be able to control them all simply. Find out more about HomeKit when iOS 8 launches in the autumn. 

Here are the main benefits:

  • Set up apps for non-Apple devices and appliances so they can be controlled via your iPhone or iPad
  • Group appliances together so you can control more than one at the same time
  • Use Siri voice activation - saying 'get ready for bed' will switch off the lights and lock your doors 
  • Apple is already working with Philips lighting on HomeKit

 

Is Britain ready for the smart home? Expert opinions…

We asked James Frame, an expert from Samsung Techwin, if the UK is ready for the smart home.

Why the smart home is more than a fad

"It's definitely more than just a fad, it's here to stay. Our expectations of the capabilities of devices have changed over the years. We expect our phones to do more than just call, we expect our games consoles to do a lot more than just play games.

"Consumers expect devices to be multi-featured and 'smart' and that expectation will creep into every controllable facet of our daily lives.

"Smart home products are also designed to enhance people's daily lives, just as the Hoover made cleaning more easy - the smart home makes a multitude of tasks more easy."

 

For more info on our latest Smart Tech gadgets, check out our dedicated Smart Tech hub