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What Exactly is Smart Home Technology?

Whether we want to admit it or not, we’re all investors in the constantly changing technology industry. Whether owning a smart phone, computer, appliances, or speakers, all of us are part of the ever growing industry that offers us a connected lifestyle. To provide you with insider information on what exactly smart home technology is and why it has become so popular we sat down with our technology partner, Jeff Gosselin. Jeff, owner of Cloud 9 AV, is one of Toronto’s top smart home technology and audio visual experts and member of CEDIA, Home Technology Professional Association.

So what is smart home technology?

Smart technology is a companion tool that enhances the way we interact with our fundamental human needs. You could argue we don’t really need much of the technology we use but, with our lives being so busy and work so competitive, saving time can give us an edge. Moreover, connecting your security, television, music and entertainment needs through a main central hub can provide extra support in the home while making your day to day activities more convenient.

Is smart technology difficult to use?

From our personal experience, implementing new technology can be a daunting task, but it doesn’t need to be. A professional smart technology company like Cloud 9 AV can specify products and design automation for your specific lifestyle and budget. Most importantly, they have the experience to properly engineer your entire system, from the start, so that every piece of equipment can “talk” to the central hub and wait for your instructions. Once the system is up and running, monthly subscription support programs are available to provide you with technical support and ongoing maintenance.

Benefits of having smart technology

Entertainment, peace of mind and comfort. Smart technology may be as simple as a television with connected speakers or a standalone smart thermostat installed in the home you already live in. It could also be integrated into every room, appliance and system of the home. An extensive renovation or new build is the perfect opportunity to design and install automation for your entire home. Your security and safety can be managed with cameras, alarms, sensors, personal ID codes and notifications of who is home or when they leave. You could even unlock the door remotely for deliveries and service providers. Convenience features like motorized blinds, lighting and high speed Wi-Fi covering the entire property may be programmed or accessed remotely through a smart phone.

Is smart technology expensive?

As with most things, the cost will vary immensely based on your requirements. Cost depends on how you would like your home to work for you. A small automation project such as a smart TV could cost as little as a few thousand dollars. If you are including smart technology in your new custom home and want “the works,” home automation and entertainment could cost into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

What are the most popular smart home devices or technologies?

Smart home technologies like Sonos, Alexa and Google speakers, Control4 smart home systems and interfaces, Lutron lighting and motorized shades, and devices such as Nest or Ecobee thermostats are the most popular right now and gaining more popularity daily.

Who is qualified to install smart home technology?

Anyone, in theory, could install home automation however, when multiple devices and systems need to communicate, the requirement for a qualified technologist presents itself very quickly. Engineering and specifying the system is just the beginning for a successful smart home. A technologist must know what devices are compatible, how they will be connected, when updates are required, and how to troubleshoot issues. You need an experienced team to ensure the system is installed right and then seamlessly maintained and updated for optimal performance.

What goes into installing smart home devices?

Standalone devices may be plugged in and connected through Wi-Fi, no installation required. When considering motorized blinds, lighting, security and audio-visual systems, the amount of equipment required increases dramatically and installation becomes far more labour-intensive.  Wireless technology has come a long way but, a wired installation is still the preferred method. Wired connections, behind the drywall, are more reliable for controls and are typically a requirement for power. In addition to the devices you see and use, space, usually in the basement, is required to bridge all the connections and house the equipment.

How often does technology fail?

When our technology stops working for any reason it may be difficult to find out what happened. Hardware, internet connections, and user error are some of the most common reasons for technology failure. The key to smart home technology is ensuring all of the devices can “speak” to each other. Incompatible hardware can cause system failures or bugs in other areas of the network. Most of us don’t have the knowledge or time to deal with problems, we just want it to work. When home automation is designed professionally, a technologist can troubleshoot issues remotely and determine the best course of action for repair. A monthly service plan can provide great peace of mind.

Is smart home technology safe? Can hackers intercept it and create a safety/security concerns?

In our connected world, cybersecurity is an important consideration to keep our networks free from harm. There have been reports of products acting as “Trojan horses” to gain access to networks. Without training and experience, users may not even know their technology has been compromised. If you have safety concerns it is wise to hire a professional to design and install your unique network for optimal performance and security.

Interested in integrating smart home technology?

Integrating smart home technology starts with a preliminary interview to explore your lifestyle, how you live in your home, and how smart technology can enhance your day-to-day life. With this in mind, Jeff helps us develop a unique plan tailored to your needs within the parameters of your renovation plans.

It isn’t hard to understand the appeal of home automation, especially today, when so many of us feel the pull to stay connected. And with possibilities akin to living on the Starship Enterprise, you can’t help but get excited about all the possibilities of having an interface that allows you to control every aspect of your home!

If you’re considering smart home technology for an upcoming home renovation and want more information, click on the button below to start the conversation.

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Dan Robinson
President
Dan Robinson Construction Management
416-519-9577


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