calendar 29.03. 2017

How smart do we live?

Everyone is talking about the "smart home" – but what exactly is it? A living environment that seems to us to be complex and somewhat strange. Somehow remote from our "normal" everyday lives. Countless articles on this topic lead us to believe that a smart home is rather inaccessible. But ultimately doesn't it simply boil down to technical solutions, i.e. an intelligent home control, which make life easier in our homes?

The smart home is such a sophisticated and highly developed system that we have so far kept our distance from the subject of “digital home control”. Although many of us are already smart, we are unaware of the fact that we are already using smart home applications. On the contrary: surveys indicate that we are still very reticent about this form of automation. Furthermore, the majority of those surveyed say they do not have a smart home and do not know what it is.

Smart Home
In a survey conducted in 2015, those questioned gave reasons for rejecting smart home applications in Germany. The survey only asked people who up to that time did not have a smart home and also showed no interest in the subject and the applications. Source: Statista, www.statista.com.

We would like to dispel these concerns and show that a smart home frequently starts with little things. “Smart home” means nothing more than using a smart home control to make your living environment more pleasant and therefore increase your comfort. How smart is your household? We talked to ista employees about their private home environments and their attitude to the smart home.

“Do you live in a smart home?”

“Eh… What do you mean by a smart home?” – the fact that our French colleague, Laurent Lefay, answers our question with a question shows only too well that many people are still uncertain about the meaning of this term. It was only when we asked him whether anything in his home was connected that it dawned on him how smart his home actually is: “Yes, I connect everything together where I can. I control my heating using the Internet. I also have a sort of weather station on which I can always check the outside and indoor temperatures as well as humidity. I can view and check them on my smartphone. I also have a door security system. If someone opens the doors, I receive an e-mail – like an alarm. So I always know whether my children are already home. Our TV is connected to the Internet. We also have an additional receiver with which we record TV programmes,” says Laurent Lefay enthusiastically. Without knowing the exact definition of a smart home, he has long since been living in one.

The term “smart home” is often used solely in relation to complex home systems but even little things can make your immediate home environment smart.

Our German colleague, Birgit von Eshen, also had a eureka moment in response to our question: “No, definitely not … although now that you mention it – I can easily record TV programmes using an app.” The term “smart home“ is often used solely in relation to complex home systems but even little things can make your immediate home environment smart. That quickly becomes very clear to René Smeijers from Holland as well: “No, I do not live in a smart home. Oh, you mean the devices in my apartment? I have several Internet access points as well as a computer and three TVs all of which have a network connection and are, of course, connected to the Internet.”

Smart home control

Apps – the remote control for everything

Do you still remember when we had to stand up to change the station on the radio? Then stereo systems suddenly appeared which we could operate with a remote control. Nowadays, there are simply app controls. For everything. An endless playlist and control via the Internet are the result – at the touch of a button while you’re sitting on the sofa. That is also the case with our Dutch ista colleague, René Smeijers: “Generally speaking, I can control my music and media using apps.” Weronika Kowal from Poland has decided to replace her old systems with new ones. In her home, music no longer comes out of the radio; now her computer and Spotify on her smartphone produce the sound. Birgit von Eshen now only listens to music via apps and she also has a receiver system with which she can record films and TV series and control them using an app on her smartphone – who would have thought it: it sounds like a home cinema!

You’re smart if you save energy at home

Did you know that energy-saving measures are often already smart? They demonstrate only too well that we have already found many possibilities of connecting our homes in an intelligent and clever way. Viviana Manna from Italy, for example, can control her heating and air conditioning system as well as the hot and cold water using a smartphone app. What she wants in future is an app control for the lights and electricity in her home. Then, of course, there are the things we already take for granted: for example, the energy-saving feature on the TV and computer – everyday conveniences which are nevertheless smart.

Smart home control

And sometimes we are ahead of our time without knowing it – like Weronika Kowal: “I set myself a timer when taking a shower – so as not to waste too much water.” What is controlled here in a very unconventional way could be her own personal step towards the infrared shower system. Our personal desire and ambition to achieve clever living determine what steps we take next. Laurent Lefay already knows how to use such smart apps in an intelligent way: “I can control my heating in each room. For example, the radiator in my kitchen is set to come on at 6:30 in the morning. So it’s already nice and warm when I get up at 7:00. The heating goes off again later while the family is having breakfast together. It’s still cosy warm in the room but I nevertheless save energy. At night, the radiator switches itself off as well. I also have water control valves – in other words ‘flow control’. So I can minimise my water consumption.”

So you see, sometimes we are smarter than we think. Take a look in your own four walls: how smart are you actually?

Picture credit: shutterstock/Macrovector