Smart Home Technology is still in its infancy, the number of smart home products and devices that let you control your lighting, thermostat, home theater, door locks, security cameras, alarms and sensors or even your crock-pot from your smart phone—is rapidly growing.
Designers and manufacturers have been dreaming of the “Home of the Future” for years. In the past they envisioned appliances that functioned automatically, and now large appliance and electrical control industries are moving in the direction of integrating home automation into a system that would monitor and operate lighting, heating, cooling, ventilation, appliances, entertainment and security. They call it the “Smart House”.
Current advances have resulted in the ability of the homeowner to program, control or monitor the home by a computer or even by telephone. Currently there are about 5 million homes that have some type of home automation system functioning in them and the market is continuing to grow as a result of increased digital technologies available to consumers today.
There are three types of home automation controls:
1 – Centrally Controlled Communication Systems
2 – Distributed-Control Systems
3 – Individual Control Devices
Centrally controlled communication systems route signals between a central computer and appliance controllers or environmental sensors. These systems can control some “dumb” appliance as well as “smart appliances. If the controller fails, however, the whole system fails. The major distinction in “smart” home technology is the way electricity is distributed throughout the home.
A control center system allots incoming household electricity to a distribution unit in each room of the house. The distribution unit (or network box) does not provide power to the outlets in the room indiscriminately, as in a conventional home. The new outlets contain microprocessor chips that only provide power upon request by a “smart” appliance. “Smart” appliances have microprocessor chips that enable them to communicate their identity, power demands and functional status to the network box when the appliance is plugged in. If the computer system determines that all is well, the network box sends power to the outlet. If the network senses potential danger, such as a frayed cord, or appliance incompatibility, the system denies power to the outlet. An outlet is only live when utilized by a compatible appliance.
Distributed control systems use wiring already in the home, such as standard power line wiring, telephone wire (4 pair), video wire, radio frequency (RF) signals and infrared (IR) signals.
Microchip controls installed in appliances or outlets enable individual appliances to communicate with each other over the existing electrical wiring without a central controller, although keyboard entry is possible using telephones or personal computers.
The system’s status can be monitored on the home TV set. Compatible appliances are necessary.
Individual semiconductor manufacturers have developed microchips that could be installed in appliances.
Individual Control Devices are the simplest and most economical home automation system. Devices control single appliances or functions, such as programmable setback thermostats, motion detectors, occupancy sensors, photocell lighting controls and timers. These systems can also be applied to applications ranging from outdoor lighting to security sensors. The familiar television remote may come to mind, but it’s not truly a home automation device, since it requires the user’s conscious thought and effort to operate.
As you can see from above that anyone nowadays can have a smart home. You can pick and choose your favorite gadgets to assemble an affordable intelligent abode on your own terms, or opt for an entire smart home system that does all the work for you. This is happening now and moving into the future of homes in America and elsewhere.
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Reference: National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA)