Much like wearable tech, smart homes have gone through the gamut with critics since Ad van Berlo set up the first “care technology” consultancy office. Examples of what came to be called “home automation” from the early ’90s can be found in France, Belgium and The Netherlands. But many of the modern features on the cutting edge of what is now called “smart home technology” are falling flat with consumers and critics. Here are the best and worst ideas to come out of this ever evolving sector of technology that can’t help but hit close to home.
Package Deal or Piecemeal
When you first start looking into sending you house to college, you’ll see right away that it’s time to decide if you want to slowly start tricking out your homestead in the newest technology or if you want a full-on comprehensive home overhaul.
Safeandsoundfamily.com, endorsed by the National Safety Council, has a great a la carte list of health, safety and happiness gizmos for your home. Everything from automated irrigation control to voice-activated thermostats is at your fingertips and pre-tested by a trusted source.
Or you can go the all-encompassing route. If you’re a Mac person and not a PC person, you may be partial to some of the smart home package deals available in all shapes and sizes. They are surprisingly customizable and eliminate the stress of getting systems to sync up and talk to each other. Much like a MacBook and iPhone communicate wirelessly, having a package smart home system can be a little pricier, but a lot easier to navigate for the busy homeowner.
Not So Smart Tech
But buyer beware. Some popular and widely publicized home tech tools are flat out not worth the money and have been slammed in the press. For instance, wireless systems may seem great since they require less drywall damage and are a quick and easy install; however, many of them get knocked offline easily, either by a loss of Internet connection or by a savvy intruder.
Instead, you need to insist on a system that is hardwired or at least has fail-safe notifications if the wireless devices fail. Just like someone can easily watch you type your PIN number into the keypad at the grocery store or ATM if you’re not careful, a complicated password is not usually required by many security systems. However, experts strongly encourage creating a password that’s tough.
Buy New and Save Money
The best technology is indisputably the one that makes you money instead of costing you money. And smart home appliances like washing machines are no exception. They have been hailed as one of the best applications of in-home technology by saving money, energy and your forgotten laundry from wrinkles and smelling moldy.
Good System, Bad App
If your smart home isn’t easily accessible from your home or tablet, is it really that smart? Some consumers have been horrified to find that their expensive system may be top-of-the-line, but the app that goes along with it may not run so smoothly with a specific beloved brand of smartphone, making it a pain to use. Before buying, take a look at the company’s app on your phone to make sure it’s user-friendly and compatible.