A Primer on Smart Home Technology

Living in the information age means you have an abundance of newfangled inventions available. A computer in your pocket, a small robot to vacuum your floors, a car that can park on its own— all of these things used to be dreams of science fiction, but in the 21st century they’re all very real. Technology and connectivity is changing the very way we live, and probably the best example of that is also the newest frontier in tech— the smart home.

What Exactly is ‘Smart’?

Smart homes may be a new term, but the concept behind them isn’t. People have long thought about homes that are connected over distances— from ringing bells to call someone into a different room, to opening the lights using your smartphone. Connected homes have been possible for a while, although the technology behind them has changed.

Smart homes, however, are a different animal entirely. According to Harvard professor Michael E. Porter, smart technologies don’t just include communication over remote distances. They are more complex, with various sensors and software that allow your household to react more intuitively to the environment.

For example, in a connected home, windows might have sensors that will alert you whether they’ve been left ajar. But a smart window will be able to tell you how long it’s been left hanging open, what the temperature outside and the temperature inside are, and whether it can open and close on its own. And while making decisions on all this data might not exactly be true artificial intelligence, it does come pretty close.

Philippine Smart Homes

While smart homes are becoming more and more popular in the Western world, in the Philippines the concept still needs a bit of a push. Part of this is due to lack of access to the technology. In places like the United States, where Deloitte reports 36% of households using tech like smart speakers, there are more vendors providing smart home technology. Compare that to the Philippines, which is just getting into the smart speakers craze, and you’ll find there’s a long way to go.

But the future of automated homes may not be too far off. Statista reported a 44.9% smartphone penetration in the Philippine market in 2017, and the forecast says it’ll only go higher. Smartphones are the first step toward smart homes, and that intuitive technology might soon be at our fingertips.

The Manila Times predicts that the market for home automation products in the Philippines is about to grow massively in the next four to six years. Slowly but surely, vendors of the same tech are eyeing the Philippines and bringing their products over. And while it might be a while before we have truly intuitive home technology in this country, that future doesn’t seem too far off.

Building a Smart Home

While we might not yet have access to door sensors or self-regulating central heating, there are tons of ways to start making your home a smart home. The easiest is, of course, to first buy a voice-controlled assistant.

Voice controlled assistants like Amazon’s Alexa or Google’s Assistant can help you make your life easier by tapping into your home wifi and connecting your devices. They can give you the weather, play your music, and even communicate with other smart devices if you have any. If you’re thinking about starting your smart home, a voice-controlled assistant is the first building block. You can take a look at your options below and decide for yourself which one best fits your lifestyle.

Amazon Echo

The Amazon Echo is one of the most popular voice-controlled assistants on the market. It’s easy to set up, and is the most supported smart home hub on the market currently. While the Amazon Echo doesn’t have an official retailer in the Philippines, you can usually find its various generations on online shops for around Php 1550 to Php 6000, depending on which version you buy. Just make sure to verify that the shop is a trusted merchant with warranty and money-back options!

Google Home

Google Home is another option if you want to get into the smart speaker craze. While the Amazon Echo has more connections with more items, the Google Home is “smarter” in the sense that it connects directly with the Google search databases. In other words, you have practically the whole world’s online knowledge sitting on your table. Google Home has official retailers here in the Philippines, so you can walk into a gadget store and ask if they have one. Depending on which version you get, it could cost you anywhere from Php 1800 to Php 6000.

Apple

Of course, you can’t mention voice assistants without bringing up Apple’s Siri. As one of the first truly voice-activated virtual assistants on the market, Siri opened the public sphere to the concept. Currently, Apple doesn’t technically offer a smart speaker. Siri is, however, connected to some of the most ubiquitous gadgets in our lives— the iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch. Any one of those is available in stores, but an Apple Watch for example will set you back about Php 25000.

For more on the latest tech, check out the Tech category on Daydreaming in Paradise!

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