A few years ago, if you’d been asked to picture the year 2021, would you have envisioned a tech-driven, futuristic landscape similar to the one we see in The Jetsons? It might seem far-fetched and unlikely, but the world today is quickly catching up to the one George and Jane call home. Give us a few more decades and we’ll see where technology takes us.

What is similar to this iconic, futuristic show is the use of artificial intelligence to build smart, connected homes. Home automation sees various Internet-powered electronic devices connect in a way that allows your home to practically run itself. Think robot vacuum cleaners and automatic washing machines, not to mention our good friend Alexa. Today, we are able to control appliances, security systems and even the living room lighting from our smartphones. We don’t even need to be in the same space.

Without a doubt, smart homes are the future and, for many, the future is slowly being incorporated into our daily lives. With every home renovation or appliance upgrade, we become more embedded in the Internet of Things (IoT), and the world grows more connected than ever before.

Smart homes are on the rise

Research has found that 53% of the global population has at least one smart device in their home, with 33% hoping to purchase a smart appliance in the next three years. In South Africa, 46% of tech-savvy consumers cite convenience as the most significant factor in smart home device usage. And many of them are installing home security systems in the form of smart alarms. While this is impressive, the truth is that, as yet, there isn’t one singular system available to incorporate a fully automated smart home.

Some appliance manufacturers have developed apps for their appliances, seeking to make it easier for consumers to manage devices. But that only works if you have the same brand of air conditioners, washing machines and dishwashers throughout your home. If your coffee machine is from a different company, you might have to install a separate app on your smartphone to make sure your cuppa is waiting for you when you come downstairs. With this in mind, more needs to be done if we are to create truly smart homes.

The process of building a smart home doesn’t need to be an overnight overhaul. It can be a simple process of upgrading and integrating these innovative devices with time. However, no matter how you approach home automation, you still need to have a solid foundation on which to build this exciting system – the Internet.

Powering IoT

IoT. weedezign / Shutterstock.com

The truth is simple: you need to have reliable Internet connectivity to benefit from the IoT. Your first step when building a smart home should be to partner with a trusted ISP and select a package that will meet the needs of a digitally-driven home.

The next step on your smart home journey is buying appliances and gadgets that are Internet-enabled. In South Africa, major appliance manufacturers, such as LG and Samsung, already have an impressive range of smart appliances available, with other brands following closely behind. These appliances have their own apps that allow for remote access and control, making it easier than ever to run a household from wherever you happen to be.

For some, the idea of building a smart home may seem overwhelming and costly, but it doesn’t have to be. It’s a journey that starts with a single step and once you have taken it, you will find that the next few are not as terrifying. A simple substitution process might be the most cost-effective way to make the move to a smart home. The next time you move, or tackle a kitchen renovation, consider replacing one or two appliances with their Internet-enabled equivalents.

The time has come, and the future is here. Are you ready to reap the benefits of an Internet-enabled smart home?

  • Matthew Campbell, Head of SME and FTTH at SEACOM



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