What Makes Smart Home Products Smart?

Smart home automation concept. Vector illustration of connected household appliances

With an influx of new products and a spotlight during the holidays, smart home products are having a moment. As with any new product category, there are a lot of questions surrounding this technology for its newest users.

There are so many applications for smart home automation that it is worth doing the research. There are products that work for the general population, products that work best for a segment of the population, and ways for almost anyone to use them, from parents to pet owners and from the elderly to those with specific needs.

For those that are new to smart home products, here is a “101” overview of what makes these smart products smart:

They connect to the Internet of Things (IoT).

The IoT is the network of devices that are able to connect to the Internet so that they can be controlled remotely and so that they can connect to and share data with other devices. It’s basically the infrastructure that allows smart home products and smart home automation to work. Your devices use WiFi to connect to your Internet network and to other devices, which creates an IoT environment in your home. While the IoT is getting a lot of publicity currently, it is actually a concept and term that has been around for all of the 2000s.

They can sync with other products.

Based on that IoT connection, your smart home products are smart in part because they can sync with other products. This allows your products to “talk” to each other through shared data. As an example, your smart lock can “talk” to your smart thermostat to tell it that you have left the house, based on actions you take with the lock (such as unlocking the door to open it, then locking it on your way out). Your smart lock also uses your cell phones GPS to determine your location. Once your thermostat is “told” that you are gone, it can adjust the temperature of your home to conserve energy while the house is empty.

They can be controlled remotely.

Because your devices are connected, they can be controlled remotely. Smart home device users are able to remotely access their connected devices through their cell phone or tablet, using either their smart home hub app or the individual device’s app. This allows for more security of your home, too. As an example, you can double check if your doors are locked, from anywhere, even if you’re on vacation and in another state – or another country. As long as you can access the app, you can control your home.

They can be set up to be controlled automatically.

Smart home devices are also smart because they can be set up to be controlled automatically. You can set your thermostat to turn on and off at the same time every day, or at different times each day as your schedule requires. You can also set the light in your living room to turn on at sunset every day. This is a set-it-and-forget-it process that works well for people that have a normal schedule in place, and don’t want to use the remote option to control their home manually.