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What can a smart home do for you?

Smart homes are getting smarter all the time. Thanks to Internet of Things (IoT) technology, internet-connected devices can automatically control everything from heating to home security and even adjust to your behavior. You can also remotely monitor and control devices, usually through an app on your smartphone or another networked device. Increasingly, these capabilities are becoming a part of everyday life.

The Internet of Things

IoT technology lies at the heart of smart home systems. It connects various devices equipped with sensors to the internet, allowing them to collect and share data. Researchers forecast that 20.8 billion connected things will be in use worldwide by 2020. In your home, devices can share data about everyday matters and then take certain actions—say, turning on the dishwasher before you get home from work—based on your preferences, without any human intervention.

Applications in your home

What can your smart home do? For one thing, it can ease the demands of daily life. In the kitchen, for example, refrigerators are able to keep track of food expiration dates and even make shopping lists. Coffee makers can start brewing when your alarm goes off in the morning. Do you tend to forget to water your plants? With connected timers, a smart system will water your plants at the right time of day and with the right amount of water. If you’re running late and your pooch is hungry, connected feeders can dispense dinner.

The technology can also increase efficiency and reduce energy costs. Smart thermostats learn your behavior and automatically modify settings, turning up the heat before you’re due home from work, as well as providing reports of your energy use. Similarly, instead of leaving the air conditioning on all day, your AC is able to turn itself on before you arrive chez vous. Smart lighting systems can detect when occupants are in a room and adjust lighting accordingly. And now, smart air purifiers are joining the ranks of these growing, connected devices.

Then there’s the matter of home security. Smart homes can monitor themselves, inside and outside, and see and talk to visitors. They also can identify the difference between residents, pets, and potential burglars.

Many devices can be integrated into voice activated systems, like Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home, that contain virtual personal assistants which learn about your behavior and preferences. For example, the Coway Airmega smart air purifier is now integrated into both Amazon Alexa devices and Google Home, allowing you to activate and control the device via your voice.