We all remember watching futuristic shows such as the Jetsons and Star Trek in our childhoods (and, as is true for many of us, in our late adulthoods too). The technology used in the characters’ homes seemed totally unachievable back then, right? All those automatic appliances, robot maids, and voice-activated systems. Now who would have thought that all these gizmos were soon to become part ‘n’ parcel of our everyday living–and only in the span of a few decades!
In recent years, you may have heard a lot about smart homes, home automation, and the ‘Internet of Things’. Well the future, ladies and gentlemen, is here, and today we have a number of companies working round-the-clock on expediting the consumer trend towards a state of complete Home Automation (a phenomenon which has everything to do with the establishment of technologically-fitted homes).
Smart homes are all the rage in developing countries these days, and many authorities are of the opinion that they have wielded a decisive impact on the property markets of both India and Pakistan. Their future prowess in terms of attaining complete market acceptability, however, still remains to be discovered–though the coming period does seem bright for them (as many property analysts predict).
So what–exactly–is a smart home?
The Collins Dictionary defines a smart home as ‘a dwelling equipped with systems and appliances that can be operated remotely using a computer or mobile phone’. And for the most part, this simple description does quite a good job of explaining what home automation is all about.
The newly emerged concept of the Internet of Things also figures greatly into this equation, and basically concerns the practice of homeowners controlling security systems, lighting, temperature, and all manner of internet-connected appliances in their residential spaces. Now whether you want to go for all of these conveniences or just a few in your own home–now that’s up to you.
Usually, a central device acts as a control hub in a typical smart home setting. Google Home and Amazon’s Alexa are the two top names in the market on this front. Collectively, they have revolutionised the home automation marketplace by making it accessible to anyone who can afford to purchase their systems, and all the gadgetry that comes along with.
Putting it simply, these systems work by sending certain wavelengths of digital information to programmable switches and devices linked to a home’s existing electrical circuitry.
Home security systems have been using this technology for some time now, and today they come equipped with an array of sensor, alarm, and camera integrations. With Alexa and Google Home making the automation process easier with each new upgrade, these home gadget arrangements are increasingly being used for the convenience and energy-saving benefits they offer.
The perks of building a smart home
Home automation may seem like a frivolous expense destined for only high-end homes, but their actual (experiential) case is quite different. Introducing smart home technology in your life comes with a long list of benefits that are well worth the investment. Consider the following:
1. They are convenient
Smart homes bring the operation of all the devices and systems installed in your home to one central hub, which you can easily control with your smartphone or computer. This massive convenience factor cannot be ignored by any modern-day homeowner. It also means you don’t have to go through a plethora of manuals to figure out how to work the appliances and systems fitted in your home. All you need to do is install a single app to your pocket smartphone, and this will out the reins of your home right into your hands.
2. They maximise security.
With home automation, you can add multiple layers of security to your home. This becomes possible through the use of connected surveillance cameras, sensors, motion detectors, and smart locks. You can even control your home’s lighting while on vacation to make it look inhabited (remember that scene from Home Alone?). And what’s more, all these systems provide instant feedback to your smartphone’s app interface, so you can rest easy knowing what’s going on in your residence.
3. They increase energy efficiency.
We all worry about the rising costs of energy in our homes, and are always on the lookout for ways to control them. Smart homes let you realize this goal in a simple and convenient way. Through their interconnected and internet-linked arrangement, they let you determine (in real-time) how much energy your appliances are consuming, and then to figure out ways to maximise their efficiency.
Consider the case of a smart thermostat, which lets you precisely control the heating and cooling of your home. These systems also give you suggestions on improving the energy efficiency of your home, based on extensively recorded data sets.
4. They help you manage your routine.
Gone are the days when a simple alarm clock was the most effective way to schedule your routine. Today, smart home technology lets you enjoy a lifestyle where you can control your home in a way that maximises both your health and productivity.
Your morning alarm, coffee machine, air conditioners, and even curtains can now be programmed to create the best conditions for you to wake up to. Every day! In addition, you can monitor your time spent when indulging in various activities such as watching television, playing video games, or even cooking, and see how you can best utilise your time to get more of your work done.
5. They are flexible.
These systems are highly flexible, and can be added on to—with newer gadget units—as the technology keeps progressing. You can pick and choose what features you want to use, and can control your family’s screen time (for instance). You can even resort to the use of smart kitchens, and cook healthy food in an easy and convenient way.
The scope of smart homes in Pakistan and India
Currently, the trend of living in smart homes is on the ascent in the United States and in several European countries. At the same time, the manufacturers of these systems are not in the dark regarding the vast potential which the subcontinent holds for smart homes adoption
Amazon and Google are already providing their smart home systems in India, and have launched extensive marketing campaigns to this effect. The companies have recognised the importance of the rising middle class in the country, which also falls in line with their target audiences. Also, websites such as Prop.pk in Pakistan, and 99 acres in India, are introducing new housing trends to both the countries’ citizens. This means that people are already familiarising themselves with the concept of technologically advanced homes, and have started appreciating their many benefits.
In recent years, local tech companies in Pakistan have started offering a range of home automation services, from end-to-end security arrangements to smart appliance installations. And as Pakistani standards of living are coming to par with international standards, people are fast catching on to the idea of what they have been missing. However, the big names (Google and Amazon) have yet to launch their services here, despite their devices being readily available in the country on an unofficial basis.
As of now, this technology is being more commonly used in offices and commercial properties, but this trend is expected to change soon. The rising demand for luxury apartments in Pakistan means that consumers, today, expect the standard variety of smart home features installed in their dwellings.
Smart homes, as such, can become the next big thing in Pakistan and India, provided they cater to the appropriate target audience, and are allowed to function fully—on an operational level. Currently, this is not the case, but many local property gurus in both countries opine that the future looks bright on this front.