MB Insights: Is Your Home Smarter Than You?

Posted on 17 August 2022

In a world where our watch monitors our heart rate, our running shoes track our individual biomechanics, and our cars are on the verge of driving themselves, it’s no surprise that technology in our homes finds itself in the midst of a boom. 

From high-tech security systems, to mirrors that can teach us yoga, there’s an endless range of smart gadgets out there, designed to make our every-day routines as swift and autonomous as possible. 

MacGregor Black takes a closer look at the latest in smart home features, their impact on our lives, and the important things to consider before turbocharging your home with the latest in tech. 

The Basic Guide to Smart Homes 

In essence, a smart home is designed to enable quick and easy control over our everyday tasks. Simple, right.

The integration of technology into our homes is paving the way for the modern homeowner to not only save money, but also time. A priceless commodity in today’s high-priced, fast-paced world. 

In fact, recent figures show that over half of US households now have at least one smart device, such as smart speakers, home hubs, video doorbells, cooking equipment, and even bathtubs. As the takeover continues to gather pace, one such demographic is leading the charge… Millennials. Not only are they driving early adoption, but a study has also revealed the value they place in integrated technology, via the group’s willingness to pay 20% or more for smart homes vs non smart homes. 

To put it simply, technology is gifting users the power to remotely control their homes, in real time. 

But, before you begin the race to recreate Tony Stark’s Malibu beach house, it’s important that you understand the ins and outs of smart home technology. Such as:

What smart devices are there? What are the pros and cons? What should I consider before I invest? 

The Ins & Outs

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, how we choose to spend our days is being re-evaluated like never before. And with a new perspective, brings new innovation. The growing desire to salvage more precious time for ourselves and our loved ones has birthed a new age of technology in our homes. With self-serving coffee machines and fridges that restock themselves, the opportunity to spare ourselves from mundane day-to-day tasks has never been more in demand. 

However, buying back our precious time does come at a cost. For example, a smart fridge that pre-emptively orders your essential groceries can set you back up to 1,000% of the cost of an average household fridge. And it doesn’t stop there, with many other high-tech replacements following suit, such as automated coffee machines setting you back a whopping £600 per piece average!

Smart Home Security Systems

If asked to picture a smart home, many of us are drawn to sci-fi movies and clips of floating cars. Today, the animated world of smart home technology seems closer to reality than fiction and, although J.A.R.V.I.S isn’t entirely a reality just yet, parts of our favourite sci-fi movies have leaked their way into the real world. One such example being… automated security systems. 

With the recent developments in artificial intelligence, many automated security systems are pushing the boundaries of imagination. Depending on your budget, high-profile systems can include impressive features such as, long range motion detection, heat sensors, high-definition zoom lenses, cloud storage, and automated locking systems. All of which are designed to detect even the slightest intrusion, providing homeowners with some much-needed peace of mind. And as most devices are connected to the internet and accessed remotely, tackling the Olympic style decathlon back to your front door, only to find out it was locked after all, is thankfully becoming a thing of the past. 

Nonetheless, like many other smart home devices, smart security systems rely on a strong internet connection. And as you may know, any device that’s connected up to the internet, sadly comes with its own vulnerabilities. Such as, the ability to be hacked. In fact, according to a study conducted by Statista, smart homes could actually decrease your level of overall security, with 40.8% of smart homes containing at least one device that is vulnerable to hacking. 

However, fear not. With that stat in mind, electrical engineers and technical geniuses are continuously developing and upgrading the authentication layers and security algorithms of smart home security systems including passwords, two-factor authentication, and even biometrics. 

Smart Healthcare

Now, picture a mattress that tracks your vitals, or a first-aid kit that performs life-saving surgery. Whilst (unfortunately) we’re not quite there yet, merging the intricate worlds of healthcare and technology is expected to breathe life into some of the most jaw-dropping inventions of our time. 

Dubbed the ‘telehealth’ sector, the collaboration between industries has recently undergone dramatic growth, and according to a report by the United Nations and P&S Intelligence, the value of connected healthcare products will total nearly $100bn by 2030! 

The potential of future telehealth products is endless and the tools available today are equally as impressive. Take Amazon’s Alexa for example. Whilst it’s not possible for Alexa to make emergency calls just yet, it is possible for you set up an additional ‘skill’ on the device that will alert a designated friend that you need help. The ‘Ask My Buddy’ skill is cleverly linked to your Alexa device or Google Home apps, and triggered via asking “Alexa, ask my buddy for help” or “Ok Google, alert my family”, upon which your chosen emergency contact is alerted. Similarly, Apple’s iWatch has the ability to detect falls, make emergency calls to pre-designated contacts, and even emergency services, sharing life-saving information such as your name and GPS coordinates.

Another huge benefit to the pairing of technology and healthcare is remote monitoring. As many of us use wearable devices, such as the aforementioned smart watches, you may have already clocked the many high-tech features these enable. From tracking your blood pressure to monitoring your sleeping habits, wearable technology can track even the slightest alteration in your health, providing you with a wealth of information to share with your doctors, physicians, and other healthcare professionals. 

Although, one thing to be conscious of is that, for those of us who consider ourselves tech-savvy, setting up, using, and maintaining a smart home healthcare system is a walk in the park. However not for all. For those that are still adjusting to the recent advancements in technology, syncing up their home appliances to a complex integrated automated system, and relying on it for their personal care, could be overwhelming. 

Smart Home Entertainment

If you’ve read this far, and we’ve led you to walk around your house thinking, “What devices can I make smart?”, you might be better asking yourself, “What devices can’t I make smart?”. 

Most appliances found in the home today also offer a smart sister product, equipped with the latest high-tech features. But smart homes don’t just need to be functional, they can also be fun! With that in mind, one of the most in-demand features taking centre stage in the automated tech space right now is, smart home entertainment. 

As most of us are still reveling at Netflix’s ability to skip intros, the entertainment industry is charging forward leaps and bounds, and the days of fussing with remotes and cables are soon to be put firmly behind us. With smart home entertainment system, devices like your TV, speakers and radio are gifted new capabilities and can all be controlled in one convenient place. 

Stream 4K movies to your smart TV directly from your phone or tablet. Vibe to your favourite songs on the highest quality surround sound system. Control your entire home theatre from an app on your mobile and ask Alexa to read your most-loved novel aloud. When entertainment and technology blend together, the possibilities are ever-evolving. 

However, one thing to remember is, most smart devices are as they say on the tin… smart. And so, to be smart, they must learn. This means gathering data about you, your habits, your likes and dislikes, and your daily routines. Your smart fridge is learning what you eat, your smart watch is tracking what apps you open, and your smart TV is logging everything you watch. Whilst this may sound alarming, fear not. Strict legislation means the manufacturers only gather this data to improve their product or enhance the immersive entertainment experience they want you to enjoy. 

So, as you’ve learned, there’s a world of high-tech automated products out there, waiting patiently for a place in your home. Whether your need is a freshly brewed coffee in the morning, or a remote medical check-up, the opportunity is at the tip of your fingers. 

Although, in spite of all the amazing benefits gained from technological advancement, there’s also the question of whether we need all this assistive technology. Are we really so desperate for convenience, that we can’t flip a light switch? So in need of routine that we can’t order spontaneous groceries? And so dependent on tech that we can’t drive our own cars? The good news is at least, with all the spare time we save using home automation, we’ll have plenty of free time to think about that…

If you would like to grow your team, or explore the next step in your career, don’t hesitate to reach out to our dedicated team of Consumer Electronics Specialists via 0191 691 1949 or hello@macgregorblack.com