Smart homes reduce cost of living

As the cost of electricity and gas continues to rise, it is no surprise that smart devices – particularly those that assist with the automation of heating, cooling and lighting – are becoming more and more popular. Now more than ever it seems there is a new generation of homebuyers, who have spent much of their lives using smart devices and are demanding the development of smart home environments. 

While the ever-increasing popularity of smart devices is being attributed to consumers of all ages, it is primarily Generation Y and some Generation Z consumers who are driving the demand for smart homes. Generations that have grown up in a smart world, where anything they desire can be sourced online at the press of the button, now demand that their home environment may be controlled the same way. 

Just one of the latest smart devices, recently released overseas, is a smart shower, which alerts consumers when they have been showering for too long and instantly reduces water flow when they step away from the water to soap up.

Primarily, smart security remains at the forefront of smart home technology, with consumers of all ages embracing smart locks for a more comprehensive interpretation of those exiting and entering their homes. This could be anyone from teenagers to toddlers living within the home, to trades people, or guests visiting holiday accommodation who may need one-off access to the premises.

With digital locks developing so extensively over the last five years or so, Australian consumers no longer underestimate just how much a digital lock can positively affect the day-to-day running of a household.

Keyless entry gains momentum

Keyless door lock concepts are seeing a steady increase in popualarity among Australian homeowners, with user convenience a driving factor, according to global leader in door opening solutions, ASSA ABLOY.

Keyless locks also give users the ability to share home access with family and friends, without the need to have multiple keys cut, according to Eric Sindel, Product Manager for ASSA ABLOY Australia. 

“Security is not compromised with digital locks, which offer the same, if not more security, than a mechanical lock. Many keyless locks also have an override key, which also offers peace of mind to consumers. This option is provided so if a user does want a digital lock, and still wishes to have the option of opening the lock with a mechanical key, then this is available. Today we find that keyless locks with keypads or key cards are popular features for day-to-day operations,” Mr Sindel recently reported.

Another growing trend within the smart homes category is the control of every day household appliances and products via smartphones, which now have the ability to control home devices remotely, either from the office or holiday destination etc. 

Security is not compromised with digital locks, which offer the same, if not more security, than a mechanical lock, according to ASSA ABLOY.

“Having the ability to connect your home products to a central ‘smart home system’ is definitely gaining interest and traction among home owners, particularly with smart home hubs that enable users to connect a platform of multiple products through a central point. This allows users to manage and monitor each device from the smart hub, in turn creating a system,” ASSA ABLOY reported.

“We are seeing communication platforms such as ZigBee and Z-Wave being the two most common platforms of communication between devices. This also enables remote management. The Yale Assure lock, with either a ZigBee or Z-Wave module, can be remotely unlocked or locked when connected into compatible smart home hubs,” the company reported.

The latest addition to the ASSA ABLOY Australia Digital lock range is the Yale Assure digital deadbolt. With Bluetooth connectivity, users have the ability to share access with others through the Yale Assure App. The App also allows users to send digital keys to ‘one time’ users, which is an ideal feature for short-term rental properties and/or allowing access to cleaners etc. Another popular feature is the App’s ability to allow users to monitor when others lock and unlock the door, providing the lock’s user history, as well as allowing users to schedule the period of time digital keys are active.

The Yale Secure Connect Lock range is cleverly developed for a diverse range of consumers.

Yale Secure Connect (ASSA ABLOY) Smart Digital locks continue to be marketed as a life changing devices, due to their ability to secure or unlock doors from any web-enabled device, and also their ability to create entry patterns for family members, service providers and even neighbours via remote access.

The Yale Secure Connect Lock range is cleverly developed for a diverse range of consumers including households with young children, who are often potentially escape artists, and also households with teenagers, as the lock has the ability to send messages to parents’ mobiles when a teenager enters.

Smart locks are also a perfect device for those wishing to monitor elderly parents who live independently, giving users the ability to remotely unlock the door for a carer and receive notifications when their elderly parent leaves and returns to
the house.

Google enabled smart mirror 

While it seems digital locking devices are growing from strength to strength, there is also no stopping the launch of smart devices created and developed to be used in any part of the home, and particularly captivating consumers who are always on the lookout for an exciting high tech item to install into their home.

One such product is the Google-enabled Smart Mirror, launched just last month at CES in Las Vegas, by Capstone Connected Home.

The newly launched mirror not only offers voice and touchscreen capabilities to access Google Assistant, but also allows users to check weather and traffic, stream YouTube, review social media feeds, and run other downloadable applications, as well as boasting voice controlled activation.

Microsoft and other tech companies attempted something similar using radio frequency technology between 2002 and 2010, according to a recent ‘SearchINSIDER’ report. 

Reports indicated that managing the Capstone Connected Control Hub, is similar to a high-end tablet. The new mirror is connected to Wi-Fi, with the Hub touchscreen device allowing users to access playlists, log into messaging apps, check the weather, and more, according to the report. 

Smart mirrors are also being developed by the California brand, ‘Simplehuman’, which has updated its smart mirror to a tru-lux light system. According to the report, the system simulates natural sunlight and enhances visibility of variations in makeup colour, along with a night mode that shifts to a softer hue to promote better sleep. 

Lighting up as the user approaches it, the Capstone mirror also displays basic information such as the weather and latest news reports.

Sensibo Sky smart controller introduces Siri Shortcuts

Smart climate control company, Sensibo Sky, also recently updated its smart air conditioner and heat pump controller, with Siri Shortcuts, to better control the appliances..

Siri Shortcuts is available as a separate app and creates a ‘shortcut’ or ‘suggestion’ by pairing with the Sensibo Sky iOS app in order to combine related actions and launch them with one command. For the first time ever, Sensibo users can control their air conditioning or heating units with Siri. 

Sensibo Sky is different from smart thermostats, like Ecobee and Nest, as it works with any air conditioner or heat pump that has a remote, according to the company. This includes split, portable, window, and traditional air conditioners as well as heat pumps. The smart controller also works with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.

Philips Hue adds to its outdoor range of smart lights

Philips Hue also recently expanded its popular collection of lighting, particularly in the outdoor line, during the CES (Consumer Electronics Show) 2019 in early January, to provide its consumers with more functionality and versatility outside of the home.

New models introduced into the Philips Hue range include a number of wall-mounted outdoor fixtures and path lighting, as well as a battery-operated sensor, so lights automatically turn on a homeowner’s arrival.

The new weather-resistant Hue Outdoor Sensor (launched throughout Europe and North America this month) is wireless and battery-powered, automatically turning on as users arrive home. With a detection range of 12 metres, it is also triggered whenever someone passes by.

When using the Philips Hue app, users can also choose which lights turn on when someone passes the sensor. Both indoor and outdoor lights can be configured, making it appear as if someone is always at home.

A smart way to shower

Consumers now have a smarter way to shower with the new EvaDrop smart showerhead.

Consumers now have an even smarter way to shower with the recent launch of the new EvaDrop smart showerhead, recently launched in Canada. The showerhead not only saves up to 50 per cent in water usage, but is also designed to fit any showerhead.

Users can easily monitor their shower duration by programing the EvaDrop device to monitor shower duration and blink its lights to remind them when to turn the water off.

The advanced sensor system also allows users to customise shower settings and change between different water levels, based upon their location in the shower. Adjustments are made to the user’s preference, going to 80 per cent when soaping up and even down to 40 per cent flow while shaving.

Users can also track their usage and trends on smart phones, by tracking water usage along with the EvaDrop community, adjust water flow preferences and set temperatures all on the EvaDrop app.

Onelink ‘Safe & Sound’ by First Alert®

Another new smart home concept launched onto the market recently was the Onelink Safe & Sound by ‘First Alert’, launched in the US as the first smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) alarm on the market combined with a superior home speaker.

Unveiled at the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Onelink also has ‘Alexa’ and streaming services built into its speaker, as well as a customisable night light.

Since inventing the world’s first residential smoke alarm, First Alert has been at the forefront of emerging technology aimed at helping protect what matters most to its customers, according to First Alert Chief Executive Officer, Tom Russo.

The first smoke and carbon monoxide alarm combined with a home speaker was recently launched in the US.

“The Onelink Safe & Sound builds upon this great legacy but also takes home safety to a place it has never been, with added entertainment and lifestyle features that enhance homeowners’ daily routines, as well as peace of mind,” he said.

Onelink Safe & Sound is also designed to work with many existing, interconnected hardwired alarms in the home, allowing consumers to maintain alarms they currently have installed within the home. It is also Apple HomeKit enabled and can be controlled via the Apple Home app or using Siri. 

Basic options for smart home beginners

For those consumers who are not as keen to set their homes up as a ‘smart’ environment and wish to start with less complicated devices, smart plugs and timers have also become particularly popular over the years, allowing any electrical device to be controlled via a timer or smart phone. 

By pre-setting functions or integrating them with smartphones, home voice assistant or smart hub, smart plugs and timers are the perfect way to switch off devices at night and then back on in the morning to prevent wasting energy and money.

Although power timers allow users to set and forget, smart plugs allow users to control devices from their smart phones, which is very handy to control lighting, heating and cooling when heading home after leaving the house for the day.

According to online energy saving and home automation store, SimplyEnergy, smart plugs may also be combined with a matching energy monitoring device so users can also receive feedback on precisely where in the house energy is being consumed. With this information at hand, and with the greater control afforded by smart plugs and timers, users can make effective changes around the home to reduce rising electricity costs.