Everyone is talking about “smart homes”. Connected living will increasingly determine our everyday lives in the future. But what is actually already possible in the present? And above all, what should future smart home users look out for if they want to buy individual components or an entire system today?
We have five tips for all those who consider themselves smart home beginners and want to avoid typical mistakes.
Do you want to control everything from the lighting mood to the complete entertainment system to the heating? And do you want to do it remotely? Or is an additional electronic lock that controls access for household help, craftsmen or babysitters via an app enough?
If you don’t need a complete all-in-one solution, small but fine individual solutions may be enough. And if you want the big picture, you should know your capabilities and ask yourself: do you install it yourself or would you rather have it installed?
The actual state
You already have Sonos boxes? Or Hue lights from Philips? Then you already have smart components that can be integrated into some systems.
In general, it’s important to check your own technical devices. Those who have a Telekom router at home are probably best served with the Qivicon components supported by Telekom. Those who go online with a Fritz box could take a look at what the company AVM has to offer on the subject of smart homes. And Apple fans might prefer to rely on the HomeKit system and control lights via the Siri voice function.
Many providers, such as innogy (formerly RWE), offer their smart home systems in coordinated (starter) packages. © innogy
The wireless standard
Wireless smart home applications communicate via radio. There are a wide variety of technical standards for this. Some are proprietary, i.e. incompatible with others. Others use open standards such as Bluetooth, Zigbee or Z-Wave.
Which standard will prevail one day is completely open. It is therefore important to find a system that is technically open to as many sides as possible in terms of networking.
The big thing in smart home technology is voice control. Whether with Amazon’s Echo (“Alexa, lower the blinds”) or Google Assistant – instead of cumbersome settings on a PC or smartphone, some smart home systems can now be controlled by voice command.
Experts agree that voice control is becoming increasingly important. So as a buyer, you should pay attention to technical compatibility.
Large alliances and specialized individual providers, comprehensive product ranges or niche solutions – the smart home market is currently still very broadly positioned and correspondingly confusing. No one knows who will prevail and what will soon be at the forefront of technology. Google is pushing into the market with its voice-controlled speakers, and it will be interesting to see what else Ikea might build around its Trådfri smart lighting system. The technical development is rapid.
So if you want to decide on the right product, you need one thing above all else: information.