What Is Smart Home Automation?
Smart home technology generally refers to any suite of devices, appliances, orsystems that connect into a common network that can be independently andremotely controlled. When your home technology works together in one system,it can also be referred more loosely as a “connected home”. For example, yourhome’s thermostat, lights, audio speakers, TVs, security cameras, locks,appliances, and more are all connected into a common system, which can becontrolled from your smart phone or through a mobile touch screen device.Smart home automation allows you to tap into high-tech functionality andluxury that wasn’t possible in the past. As technology development continuesto expand, so will the possibilities for consumer home automation to make lifeeasier and more enjoyable.
Install the Domoticz home automation hub
To run the Domoticz installation script, type the following command into theTerminal: curl -L https://install.domoticz.com | bashRead the onscreen information, and if you agree, press the Enter key on yourkeyboard.You’ll now have the option to disable HTTP or HTTPs. HTTPS is far more securethan HTTP, so you may want to consider disabling access through HTTP. You canmove between these options using the arrow keys on your keyboard and thentoggle HTTP/HTTPs on and off using the space bar.If you’ve left HTTP enabled, then Domoticz will ask which port you want to usefor your HTTP connections; the default port is “8080.” Assuming that you’rehappy to use this port, press the Enter key.Domoticz will ask which port you want to use for HTTPS; the default port is“443.” If you’re happy to stick with the default, then press Enter to move tothe next screen.Next, you’ll need to choose an installation folder for Domoticz. By default,the installation script will automatically install Domoticz to your homedirectory, but you can select another directory if required.After installation, reboot your Raspberry Pi.
Populating your dashboard: start adding devices
You can now add all the devices, sensors, apps, services and other smart hometechnology that you want to monitor and control from the Domoticz dashboard.This process will vary depending on the hardware or software you’re trying toadd, but this tutorial will show you how to add Open Weather Map to yourDomoticz dashboard, as you can generate the required API key for free.Open Weather Map provides weather data for over 200,000 cities around theworld, including wind speeds, temperature and humidity. To access this data,you’ll need to create an Open Weather Map account and generate an API key:1. Head over to the Open Weather Map website and sign up for your freeaccount.2. Once you’re logged in to your Open Weather Map account, select yourusername in the upper-right corner.3. Select the “API keys” tab.4. In the “Create Key” box, enter a name for your key and click “Generate.”5. Open Weather Map will now generate an API key that you can add to yourDomoticz dashboard.To add Open Weather Map as a service:6. Open your Domoticz dashboard. In the menu bar, select “Setup -> Hardware.”7. Click “Add.”8. Open the “Type” drop-down. You can now see all the smart devices, apps andservices that Domoticz supports; select “Open Weather Map.”9. In the “Name” field, give this service a name.10. In “API key,” enter the Open Weather Map API key that you just generated.11. In “Location,” enter the location that you want to monitor. Note thatalthough Domoticz accepts location data in several formats, including latitudeand longitude, I could only get this integration to work by entering the nameof my nearest city.12. When you’re happy with the information you’ve entered, click “Add.”13. Assuming that Domoticz successfully connects to the hardware, service orapp that you just added, it’ll generate one or more devices. To see thesedevices, navigate to “Setup -> Devices.” Open Weather Map should now be listedas an available device.14. Select the “Add device” icon.15. In the pop-up that appears, give this device a name.16. Click “Add device.”17. In the toolbar, select the “Weather” button – you should now see all theOpen Weather Map data for your chosen location.If you want this information to appear on the main Domoticz dashboard, clickthe little star icon to “favourite” it. Now, if you select the “Dashboard”tab, you’ll see that the weather information is featured on the main Domoticzdashboard.The process of adding all your smart home devices, apps and services toDomoticz will vary, but as a general rule, you’ll need to repeat this processof adding the item as a hardware component (“Setup -> Hardware”) and thenadding it as a device (“Setup -> Device”).Every device and service that you add to Domoticz will have its own settings,allowing you to create some unique and interesting home automation effects.How are you using Domoticz to monitor and control your smart home? Be sure toshare your Domoticz setup in the comments below!Is this article useful? Yes NoJessica ThornsbyJessica Thornsby is a technical writer based in Derbyshire, UK. When she isn’tobsessing over all things tech, she enjoys researching her family tree, andspending far too much time with her house rabbits.The Best Home Automation Apps To Make Your Life EasierOver the last decade, smartphone apps have allowed us to advance the progressof systems and processes that hadn’t changed in years. Twenty years ago, noone ever thought you’d be able to take your phone out of your pocket at workand view the real-time security footage of your home. Today however, that’sonly one of the benefits of turning your home into a smart home using homeautomation. Now, millions of people around the world are also using homeautomation apps to do things like reduce their home energy usage and run theirentertainment systems.And let’s not forget the greatest benefit of all… home automation apps arejust downright freakin’ COOL. For those of us who remember The Jetsonscartoon, it’s like the future is now among us. It’s not going anywhere, any time soon, either. According to CNET, more than aquarter (28%) of Americans already own at least one smart home product – and 78% are more willing to buy a home thatalready has smart technology installed. Furthermore, the smart home industryis growing year by year at an exceptional rate and is projected to become a$58 billion industry by 2020.With mega-companies like Amazon, Google and Apple investing major dollars intothe home automation space, innovative developers have brought many amazinghome automation app ideas to reality; some which allow our homes to do thingsthat were once only seen in sci-fi movies.In this article, we’ll explore the evolution of smart homes and introduce youto several home automation apps that can turn your home into an automatedmachine!
What is smart home technology
Your home is your castle, and a castle must be protected at all times. Ofcourse, you’re not always at home. You’ve got to go to work and you needvacations to get away from work!So how can you keep a watchful eye over your home and make sure yourbelongings are safe when you’re away? Two words: home automation. There aremany companies revolutionizing the home automation industry.Home automation has been around for a long time, but the emergence ofsmartphones and Wi-Fi has made the technology more convenient and affordable.It might sound like science fiction, but you can now control all of theappliances in your home right from your smartphone.We still haven’t reached the day where the dishes do themselves, but these 9smart home devices can make your life easier.
5. Smart irrigation controller
One easy thing to forget when you go on vacation (besides your toothbrush) isfinding someone to water your plants. Fortunately, there is even homeautomation technology that has your garden covered. Whether you are lookingfor complete Wi-Fi watering systems, moisture sensors, smart gardening appsand cloud platforms or gardening DIY and open source systems, plant wateringsensor systems can help.
6. Smart smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
Fire and carbon monoxide are two of the biggest safety hazards in your home soit’s comforting to have the ability to monitor them from anywhere with a smarthome app. Nest also created an alarm that syncs with your smartphone to alertyou if the smoke or carbon monoxide alarm goes off. Nest Protect includesfeatures that give you real-time updates about smoke and carbon monoxidelevels. It can also notify you when the batteries are low in your alarms.
7. Smart aquarium controller
Beyond your home and garden, home automation technology can even protectanother precious belonging: your fish! Apex aquarium monitoring gives youcomplete control over your tank from your smartphone. From ozone control toautomated feeding, this device eliminates the need for a Nemo-sitter on yournext holiday and takes the marine biology guesswork out of your aquarium.
9. Smart home
What if you were able to control multiple devices in your home through onesingle app? Wink makes this possible. The Wink app maintains partnerships withmore than 30 products from a variety of manufacturers – offering youconvenience and simplicity when it comes to connecting to the items you relyon every day such as sprinkler systems, lights and locks like the SchlageDeadbolt mentioned above. It doesn’t stop there; the Wink HUB is a platformthat enables the multi-product connectivity, allowing your smart devices tospeak the same wireless language.Smartphones are quickly becoming all-empowering devices that can turn yourhouse into a fully-controllable smart home. These 9 groundbreaking homeautomation technologies can be used to protect your home directly from yoursmartphone. While smart home apps may help make your home more secure orefficient, they don’t protect your property or belongings if somethingunexpected happens. You’ll want to have quality home insurance coverage toenjoy peace of mind at all times.Third party websites and products referenced by Nationwide are controlled andoperated by third parties and not by Nationwide. Nationwide makes norepresentations and disclaims all liability as to the content or materialavailable at those websites, the accuracy of information, and the quality ofproducts or services provided or advertised. The fact that Nationwidereferences such sites and products is not an endorsement, authorization,express or implied sponsorship, or affiliation with respect to such sites andproducts, its owners, sponsors, or providers.A guide to home automation in 2018
A guide to home automation in 2018
Australians are switching on to home-automation technology at a record pace,making life smoother with each new device.Jan 18, 2018 2:44amWhether you’re aware of it or not, we’ve reached a tipping point when it comestotechnology in our homes. Today, 40 per cent of Australian homes have at least one Internet of Things(IoT) device, up from 29 per cent in 2016. That’s a massive leap forward andthere’s no sign of the pace slowing, says Foad Fadaghi, managing director ofTelsyte, Australia’s leading emerging-technology consultancy.”IoT devices are smart, internet-enabled appliances that allow homeowners tocontrol, monitor and enhance their lifestyles,” says Fadaghi. “We estimatethat the average Australian household has 13 internet-enabled devices now;this figure will balloon to 30 by 2021, with 14 of those being home-automationdevices.”Ever stopped to count the number of phones, tablets, laptops, smart TVs, gameconsoles, smart meters, security systems and wearable technology devices atyour place? You might also have garage doors, blinds or awnings that adjustwhen sensors tell them to, airconditioning that switches off when no one hasbeen detected in the room for 20 minutes, and a watering system in the gardenthat switches on the sprinklers when it hasn’t rained. “Much of this sort oftechnology has been around for a while,” says Fadaghi. “But what we’re seeingnow are automation devices that are intuitive and proactive as well asuseful.”Home automation systemssuch as Telstra Smart Home are now being included as standard when homeownersrenovate, affording them the means to do things such as control the lightsfrom afar, switch the iron off from anywhere using smart power plugs, or checkthat the kids have let themselves in safely after school.In 2017 we saw the release ofGoogle Home, a voice-operated ‘virtual assistant’. You can ask it what the weather isgoing to be, or tell it to turn on Netflix, your favourite Spotify playlist orbedside light. Such technology is in its infancy, but it’s set to become the’glue’ that keeps a household running smoothly, says Mick Boman, nationalproduct and marketing manager for connected devices at Harvey Norman.”Every day, more brands are partnering with Google Home, and the possibilitiesare exciting,” says Boman. “Australia is a nation of early adopters, so Ithink we’ll see a huge spike in sales of Google Home, particularly when brandssuch as Panasonic, Philips and Samsung roll out voice-activation functionalityin their kitchen appliances.”Perhaps the biggest potential roadblock is that homeowners need to trust IoTdevices. Telsyte’s most recent data shows that almost half of the Australianssurveyed are concerned about cyber security and privacy. These concerns arevalid, especially in light of recent news reports that your smart TV iscapable of ‘spying’ on you.”The challenge for providers is to take households on the automation journeywhile handling their privacy and security with the utmost care,” adds Fadaghi.
Best Overall: Amazon Echo (4th Gen)
The latest Amazon Echo (the 4th generation of the flagship smart speaker)comes standard with a seamless protocol that lets it function as a true smarthub: Zigbee. The Echo Plus’s Zigbee support allows it to more directly andseamlessly control devices like smart thermostats and smart light bulbs,making it a widely-compatible and user-friendly choice for a smart hub.Combining the functionality of the previous Echo and Echo Plus means you nolonger need to buy separate devices; everything you need to start buildingyour integrated smart home is inside this brand new Echo.The aesthetic design is brand new too, along with a number of performanceupgrades. The most striking is that the Echo has ditched the cylindrical lookof previous generations and now is a very sleek looking (and kind of adorable)sphere. This is a visual upgrade, but also improves sound quality. Choosebetween three different neutral colors: charcoal, glacier white, and twilightblue. It looks a bit more premium, blends in with all kinds of decor, andfeatures that signature gradient light ring, which is now on the bottom of theunit to softly illuminate a surface in dim lighting.The Alexa functionality is also better than ever, meaning you’ll be able toask questions, check the weather, and a whole lot more (Amazon has built anAlexa library that is more than 50,000 skills strong). But the real standoutfeature here, in our eyes, is the speaker setup. The Echo has a 3-inchneonadium woofer and dual 0.8-inch tweeters, which means it has an additionaltweeter compared to its predecessor. In her review, Erika calls out theexceptional Dolby speakers and the Echo’s ability to adjust sound output tothe shape and contour of a room.”A worthwhile investment, the new Echo looks better, sounds better, and itperforms better in just about every category.” — Erika Rawes, Product Tester
Best for Home Automation: Samsung SmartThings Wi-Fi Mesh Router and Smart
Home HubIf you own Samsung devices or some of the many SmartThings-compatible smartdevices on the market, a good smart hub router to invest in for your home isthe Samsung SmartThings Wi-Fi + Hub. This small router/hub is less than fiveinches in length and width, so it doesn’t take up much space. But, it offers agreat deal of functionality, letting you connect your compatible smart devicesto one place and allowing you to control those devices through the SmartThingsapp for iOS or Android.A single Samsung SmartThings Wi-Fi + Hub will cover up to 1,500 square feet inyour apartment or home, but if you want 4,500 square feet of coverage, you canbuy three and connect them together. The SmartThings Wi-Fi + Hub has beenpraised for covering a large home with wireless signal and for delivering fastspeeds to many devices.
Best Budget: Amazon Echo Dot (4th Gen)
If you can’t quite shell out the cash for Amazon’s new flagship Echo Plus, youcan still get the latest tech in a smaller, less expensive package. The newestgeneration of Echo Dot gives you a pretty solid amount of features withoutbreaking the bank, and it comes in an absolutely adorable new spherical formfactor, a first for the Echo line. You do end up sacrificing the Zigbee smarthome connectivity and the nearly peerless speaker set of the 4th Gen EchoPlus, but it does seem like Amazon has continued refining the Dot’s speaker togive you more oomph and volume.The Alexa functionality is present here, too, allowing you to stream music,run searches, or teach it up to 50,000 different skills from Amazon’s ever-expanding library. There’s a line out or Bluetooth connectivity, and that newpremium mesh-grill look is present here. The three new colors carry through,as well — charcoal, glacier white, or twilight blue. Our reviewer, ErikaRawes, loved the modern elegance of this new spherical form factor, and howthe 4th Gen Dot represents the culmination of years of Amazon’s smart homelearnings.”The new Echo Dot is a great speaker at a great price…for first-time buyers,it’s a no brainer.” — Erika Rawes, product tester
Best Home Theater: Logitech Harmony Hub
Logitech’s Harmony Hub isn’t your typical smart hub, but it’s compatible withmore than 270,000 entertainment and smart home devices. With a simple setupthat can have you online and connected to up to eight devices within minutes,the Harmony Hub works great with your TV, satellite, cable box, Blu-rayplayer, Apple TV, Roku, game consoles, and more.Creating customized activities is a breeze through the downloadable HarmonyApp for both Android and iOS. Tap a pre-programmed button on the app, andimmediately turn down your Philips Hue smart lights, turn on your connectedspeaker and TV, launch Netflix and let date night begin instantaneously withone button click. The Harmony Hub includes Amazon Alexa and Google Assistantsupport, so you can incorporate hands-free voice control.Beyond voice control, the Logitech Harmony Hub truly stands out with closedcabinet control, which allows it to send commands to connected devices throughBluetooth, Wi-Fi, or infrared commands that don’t require a direct line-of-sight.”