It sounds like a great idea – but how do you create a smart home?
You've undoubtedly heard of the Internet of Things (IoT) – the connection of devices to the Internet including a huge range of things, from cars to kitchen appliances, can all be connected through the IoT.
It is also the basis of the smart home – where everything from lights, door bells, appliances, cameras, windows, window blinds, hot water heaters, you name it – can talk to each other…and you. This is bringing the stuff of science fiction to everyday home automation and smart homes, making life easier for you and your family.
We are on the brink of a smart-home boom, with a growing number of US consumers (68 per cent, according to a survey last year by Intel) confident smart homes would become as common as smartphones within the next decade.
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But what do New Zealanders think – and what do they want in their smart home?
Samsung New Zealand have been finding out – and their survey, carried out last month, gives a revealing insight into what Kiwis want from their doorway to the future.
1. Phone controlling – aside from "online shopping", most Kiwis want to use their phones for setting alarms (35 per cent), operating other smart devices like the TV, washing machine, heat pump etc) and making the home more secure.
2. Standardisation – nearly 60 per cent rated as "important" or "very important" being able to use a smartphone seamlessly with other brands and devices.
3. Convenience – asked to identify the top three benefits of smart technology that most appealed, convenience (50.4 per cent) won out, followed by energy efficiency and cost savings.
4. Bathroom blues – cleaning the bathroom came out tops (45.6 per cent) of future tasks people would most like to be automated, with lawn mowing (15.2 per cent), hanging out washing (10.5 per cent) and taking out the rubbish (10.4 per cent) also on the wish list.
5. Security first – When it came to current smart products most desired, a smart security system was the fondest wish, followed by a smart vacuum cleaner and a smart fridge.
6. Labour-saving – 43.2 per cent thought they could save between 1-3 hours of household chore time by using smart technology and devices.
7. "Me" time – and with that time saved, 48.2 per cent said they would have more time for themselves while 43.2 per cent said they'd use that time for family and friends. Next biggest use of time was exercise.
8. How much? – Two in every three Kiwis (66.3 per cent) said they would be willing to spend from under $1000 up to $3000 to keep up with the latest technologies.
9. Societal change – The biggest community or social benefits were "reducing power consumption" (46.2 per cent) and "freeing up more leisure time" (31.6 per cent).
10. Negatives – 48 per cent rated being hacked as the biggest concern, followed by the use of data gathered by a smart home and being locked out or trapped in the home if there was a technical glitch.
Samsung's Head of Mobile Portfolio, Todd Selwyn, says one of the most interesting facets of the survey is the strong support for a smartphone to interact seamlessly with other brands and devices.
"That's the key for smart technology to take off," he says. "People want a central device which can control their home and their devices and not have to switch to different controls for different things."
Bixby, Samsung's own artificially intelligent (AI) voice assistant, acts as the controlling platform of a home's connected ecosystem and can work with hundreds of different brands and devices. Selwyn says intelligent voice-activated assistants is a growing trend and, if smart devices aren't simple and easy to operate together, they won't be widely used.
The survey also demonstrates New Zealanders are also on path of understanding the benefits of a smart home, both for their personal lives and for the community as a whole: "We know people around the world are looking more closely at the work-life balance and the smart home can be part of the answer. New Zealand may not yet be as smart home-aware as in the US, the world's most developed nation in this regard, but this survey shows the idea is starting to take root here."