10 ways connected technology has changed the homes we live in
August 13, 2019 @ 17:06 UTC
The advent of high-speed broadband in the home means that dial-up connections are, for most people, now a nostalgic memory. Today, people with broadband in their home can stream movies and music, browse the internet, make video calls and download large files quickly. Having a reliable, fast broadband connection also acts as a gateway to other modern devices that have been designed to, in theory, make our lives easier or more entertaining.
In many households, smart TVs have sounded the death knell for DVD and video players. TVs that connect to a fast internet can, among other things, stream movies, television programs and music as well as browse the web. In the U.K., regulator Ofcom says that smart TVs were in 42% of households in 2017, compared to just 5% in 2012.
Compared to today, console and PC users during the 90s and early 2000s were relatively restricted when it came to online gaming. The introduction of fast internet connections and development of consoles such as Microsoft’s Xbox and Sony’s PlayStation means that gamers can now face off against players from across the globe with ease.
U.K. energy regulator Ofgem describes smart meters as devices that can “give consumers near real time information on energy use.” The idea is that, by seeing how much energy they are using, consumers will be able to “better manage their energy use, save money and reduce emissions.”
Whether it’s on a cell phone, tablet, laptop or the aforementioned smart TV, streaming has revolutionized the way we consume media. For a fee, services such as Netflix, Hulu and Prime Video offer instant access to television programs and movies. Platforms such as Spotify and Tidal do the same for music.
Whether it’s Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri or Google’s Home, virtual assistants are becoming a common sight in many homes. These pieces of kit react to voice commands to undertake a range of tasks, from playing music and providing weather forecasts to recipe advice.
The ovens we use to cook our food may look more or less the same as they did decades ago, but the kit inside them is changing. Today’s smart ovens can be controlled using verbal commands, turned on and off remotely and send users notifications when food has been cooked.
A variety of major companies, including Dyson, Hoover and Miele, offer robot vacuums. These devices take the elbow grease out of cleaning, moving around homes and sucking up dirt and dust autonomously.
For some, locks that don’t require keys to open them are becoming a convenient way of securing property. These locks can be controlled using an app or by entering a passcode and are beginning to open up a number of secondary applications.
On the topic of securing one’s home, smart doorbells offer safety conscious households an extra layer of security. There are a range of products on the market, but most work in pretty much the same way. When the bell is rung or one of its motion sensors activated, the homeowner receives a notification – usually sent to their cell phone – that someone is trying to get access to their property. Using their mobile device, they can see who that person is and if necessary, speak to them.