The IoT, or Internet of Things, has exploded upon the everyday consumer, in a variety of products and forms. It’s a confusing, chaotic time, so how can you determine which IoT products are best for you and your home?
How do you live today?
Creating a connected home is easier today than ever, thanks to the wide array of home automation and IoT devices available. The first and most important thing to think about prior to adding any technology to your home is how you live today. What are the mundane tasks that you perform over and over again every day? Of those tasks, which ones do you enjoy and which ones are painful realities that you continue to deal with? Start with this as your guide. The simpler the task, the more beneficial the automation: vacuuming floors, turning off/on lights, locking doors, setting the proper temperature. The automation of the most basic tasks are frequently the most satisfying and also serve as a great baseline for more complex automation later, if you want it.
When you interrupt the norm, what do those scenarios look like?
Think about the interruptions in your day-to-day routine. What types of non-norm scenarios come to mind first? For example, how often do you leave town? Might you need to come home during the day to check on a pet or look for an urgent package? Did a neighbor who’s housesitting for you forget to lock the door? IoT-enabled devices and home automation systems can provide simple, flexible control over your home from anywhere, and can free users from the hassles of things like lost keys. By understanding the more typical interruptions you experience, IoT devices can help maximize your satisfaction and enhance your investment.
How do you plan for extreme or unforeseen events?
Whether it is a water leak, smoke or CO2 alert, or an unexpected visitor, how do you currently plan and react to unforeseen events? IoT devices can provide various levels of monitoring and notifications. Understanding how to configure alerts and homeowner-directed communications is the key to user satisfaction. Homeowners experience a high level of frustration when they are bombarded with false alarms, leading to the question, “Is this real, or can I ignore it?”—the antithesis of what the connected home is all about.
Do your homework
The IoT is bringing connectivity to many products and devices that have never been connected before. That said, not everything in the marketplace will offer the same standard of quality and usability. Read the reviews, talk to friends, and understand the limitations of the devices, hubs, and software applications before you buy. Look for the experts in their categories. Most major manufacturers offer IoT-oriented solutions that also meet the industry norms for their non-connected standards in usability, quality, and safety. Consider digital security as you would physical. Modern encryption standards and other protections are not guarantees of privacy and efficacy, but are good investments. An IoT device provided by a trusted manufacturer will likely receive many firmware and software updates over the course of its usable life—that’s a good thing as it proves that they are keeping up with the latest security standards and methods.
The cost/benefit of automation
Sometimes consumers choose devices that have a high level of “cool factor,” only to find that the configuration and utilization of the device is simply not practical in their day-to-day lives, translating to a wasted investment. This is an easy fix. Know yourself. Start simple. Focus on the basics that can contribute to your daily well-being and experience the convenience, greater control, energy savings and, ultimately, peace of mind that a connected home can provide. EH
ROB MARTENS is the Futurist & Director of Connectivity Platforms at Schlage. He has served as an expert on several IoT panel discussions and identifies IoT opportunities and partnerships in the electronic product space.