17.–23.01.2022 #immcologne

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Connected living

Smart home – connected with confidence

Technology makes many areas of life easier. Nowadays, smart homes are able to take on a number of tasks. As well as comfort, smart networks are increasingly focusing on one issue in particular – safety.

Gray Google Nest speaker on a wooden shelf

Smart home concepts make everyday life more convenient, the home more secure, and now look really stylish, too. (Photo: John Tekeridis, Pexels.com)

Smart technology for everyday comfort and convenience

While robotic vacuum cleaners may have been the pinnacle of high-tech household gadgets a few years ago, they are now a basic piece of equipment. Alongside intelligent cleaning aids, there are many other intelligent systems that allow us to control the entire house simply using a smartphone. Bathroom fittings specialist hansgrohe has recently revolutionised the bathroom with its RainTunes digital shower system , which combines water, light, sound and fragrance. With the hansgrohe home app, users can control their hansgrohe bathroom equipment and choose between different modes, including “Relaxation” and “Good morning”. The strength of the water jet, the music, the lighting and the fragrance are set depending on the mode selected.

But smart concepts for making everyday living easier can be found in other rooms too – whether it’s the fridge that keeps track of its contents and automatically places an order at the nearest supermarket when it’s running low, or the home entertainment system that combines the television, speakers and lighting via an app.

Health is also playing an increasingly significant role in smart applications. One example is the Axia-smart-active desk chair by BMA , developed in collaboration with physiotherapists, which vibrates when it’s time to change sitting position or move around briefly. Smart home technologies don’t just make everyday living more comfortable and convenient though, they can make it safer too.

Smart Cook Assistant from Miele

Miele's Smart Cook Assistant not only helps cook every dish to perfection, but also automatically regulates the stove's temperature to protect against burning. (Photo: Miele)

Smart home: One home, endless safety options

Robotic vacuum cleaners and entertainment systems are just two of the countless options available on the smart home devices market. Alongside the well-known small stand-alone applications there is an increasing trend towards more comprehensive concepts – smart systems that enable you to keep an eye on the entire home, even when you’re out and about.

One of the best-known smart home applications is probably Apple’s HomeKit. This app can now operate products from many different companies, including Philips Hue lights. It can be used in combination with various devices to control the entire home. If surveillance cameras are installed, the whole house can be viewed at any time, even when you’re away from home.

The Eve Window Guard is a window sensor that registers if the window is open or closed and communicates this to your smartphone. If a break-in attempt is detected, the app immediately sounds the alarm and automatically switches on all networked lights – providing they have been connected with the sensor in advance. The Eve water and smoke detectors can also be connected in such a way that if there is a build-up of smoke, for example, not only does the fire alarm go off, the escape route is also lit up thanks to smart networking.

Netatmo is one of the first manufacturers to combine smart technology with modern interior design. Its alarm systems, cameras, and door and window sensors can be controlled using the Netatmo Home + Security app. Alternatively, they can be integrated into Apple’s HomeKit smart home application.

Like Apple, Google also has a connected home system on the market, called Nest, which makes the home more secure. From the doorbell to the speakers to the surveillance cameras, all the elements of the system can be controlled by voice command through stylish speakers.

Bosch’s system detects unusual movements around the outside of the house and automatically sends a notification to the app. What’s special about the Bosch system is that if you’re not at home and the movement sensor registers unusual activities, it simulates your presence, switching on the television and lights.

Little boy playing with ramekins in nursery

The smart home market has also upgraded for the little ones, making the playroom a safe place - during the day and at night. (Photo: Paige Cody on Unsplash)

Smart bedrooms for kids – keeping little ones in the loop

For families with children, safety in the home is especially important. Stairs, plug sockets and house entrances all need to be childproof, but so do kids’ bedrooms themselves. Parents often worry at night in particular, because they can’t keep a constant eye on their children. Many manufacturers offer smart systems that gently soothe little ones to sleep safely and watch over them through the night.

The Philips Hue lighting system helps children sense when it’s bedtime. In the evenings, the Sleep Buddy automatically dims the lights in kids’ bedrooms to a warm sunset scene, creating a gentle transition towards sleep and signalling that the day is slowly drawing to a close. The lights are very easy to control using the app. What’s special about this system is that parents can choose between two modes: a dimmed light for bedtime and a brighter light as soon as the kids are allowed to get up.

To keep little ones safe in the night, Philips Hue lights can be connected with movement sensors by eNet . This system responds to movement and noise in kids’ bedrooms and can automatically switch on the light in the parents’ bedroom, so parents are aware of any unusual activity, even in the middle of the night. As well as movement, the sensors also monitor temperature. Two alarms can be set in the app – one for a maximum temperature and one for a minimum temperature.

Turning the smart home into a truly safe home

With the unending possibilities that smart home technologies now offer, if used incorrectly they can also achieve the opposite effect and become a safety loophole. Because all devices have to be online and connected to Wi-Fi permanently, in the worst-case scenario, unauthorised third parties could gain access to the surveillance camera in the living room, or the locking system for the house. But the good news is that by paying attention to a few details, the smart home can be made a safe home.

• Products:

When choosing the right technology, it’s worth investing in products with the “VDE Information Security Tested” seal of the German Association for Electrical, Electronic & Information Technologies (VDE), or similar certification. This seal is only given to devices that demonstrate secure data transfer processes during installation and operation, updates, and remote operation.

• Smartphone:

As the system’s nerve centre, the mobile phone is at the heart of any smart home. This makes it all the more important to protect smartphones against malware using suitable firewalls or antivirus software.

• Software updates:

To maintain constant security in the smart home, all devices should always be kept up to date. It’s particularly important to ensure that the updates are authenticated by the relevant manufacturer.

A glimpse into a smart future

Over recent years it has become abundantly clear that smart applications are increasingly versatile and reliable, able to control the room temperature, the entertainment system or even the entire security setup in the house. Smart home technology is on the rise and will make where we live even safer in future. It’s already apparent that the trend is moving from stand-alone applications to integrated digital living concepts, and architects are now focusing more and more on digital infrastructure and connectivity when designing living spaces.

Thinking about networking your house? You’ll find lots of exciting smart home products on ambista.