Home Automation – What it is and How to Get Started
Home automation and smart home devices can seem intimidating. This article will help you understand some of the basic principles and common smart home devices.
What is Home Automation?
Home automation is the act of connecting and controlling powered devices and appliances in your home through WiFi, Bluetooth, and the internet.
Devices controlled by automation are commonly controlled by a smartphone, smartwatch, or by an internet browser on a computer.
Examples of simple home automation
People are connecting devices to home automation systems more frequently so they can automate the start and stop times of certain devices and appliances. Another common task is to simply control the output of smart devices… like adjusting the lights or the volume of the TV for example.
Examples of complex home automation
More complex home automation tasks integrate multiple devices and orchestrate them to work together through simple actions or commands. An example of a complex home automation task would be controlling your home to recognize when you get home from work and adjusting the lighting, thermostat, music type and volume
How long has home automation been around?
While home automation has grown dramatically in popularity recently, it’s actually been around for since the 1970s.
The X10, commonly known as the grandfather of home automation, was introduced in the mid-’70s. X10 was designed to control multiple household appliances through home power lines.
Remember the clapper? Come on… Clap on, Clap off… yea that one…
The clapper was actually an early example of home automation. The device listened for a command, the clap, and performed the task of turning on and off the light when commanded.
While home automation has been around since the ’70s, it wasn’t until around 2010 that the technology really started making its way into homes in mass. In 2010, the Nest thermostat was designed by Tony Fadell, the designer of the iPod, in an effort to make the thermostat more attractive and tech-savvy.
Since 2010, smart home devices have been popping up all over. Companies like SmartThings, Phillips Hue, Ring, and a slew of others have entered the emerging market.
In an effort to bring uniformity and security standards to the market, the Linux Foundation started the AllSeen Alliance, with the help of major consumer electronics and software applications including Qualcomm, Sharp, Panasonic, and LG.
Apple entered the smart home category publicly in 2014 by introducing HomeKit, which has helped to bring smart home devices and home automation more mainstream.
What’s the difference between Smart Home and Home Automation?
The difference between the terms Smart Home and Home Automation is slight if any. The two terms can be used interchangeably for the most part.
The technical difference between the two terms is that “Smart Home” refers to the group of connected devices within a home while “Home Automation” can refer more to the act of connecting the devices.
In most cases, the two terms will mean the same thing.
How does home automation work?
Home automation works by connecting smart devices and sensors to a network (WiFi, for example) and a control system with a graphic user interface.
The smart devices and sensors play the role of whatever their primary function is as well as taking commands from the control system or sensor. A smart light or lightbulb, for instance, has a primary function of providing light, generally managed by flipping a switch up or down to turn the light on. In a smart environment, the light would be controlled by a control system which takes other inputs to tell the light when to turn on automatically.