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Owning a smart home is becoming every homeowner’s dream as it makes lives comfortable and convenient. Imagine your morning coffee being made by your smart Wi-Fi-enabled coffee maker. After a hard day at work, you don’t have to scan through the refrigerator to take stock of your grocery. Smart devices can tell you which groceries you need, helping you prepare your shopping list. Personal voice assistants can read you the recipe as you concentrate on cooking a special meal for your family.

The above scenario is not a dream. Smart homes have been around for over a decade. However, with an increasing number of IoT (Internet of Things) devices touching various aspects of our lives, smart homes seem to be the most tangible aspect of IoT technology. The smart home devices market is growing rapidly as it promises to save precious time, energy and money. The day is not far when you will live in an interconnected world of smart homes, smart cities, and smart transportation.

According to IHS Markit, over 80 million hi-tech home appliances were delivered across the globe in 2016. This trend is expected to grow as companies like Amazon, Google, Samsung, Cisco, and others introduce smart gadgets that make lives easier. However, the ever-changing trends in this industry make it hard for homeowners to select the home automation options that suit their needs.

The infographic below will introduce you to the world of smart homes and present you with a complete home automation guide that can be used in 2018 and beyond.

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Complete Home Automation Guide

Smart technology has rapidly advanced over the past 10 years. Whereas in the past manufacturers were very liberal about describing products as ‘smart’ which really didn’t merit it, now we have true home automation systems that can massively enhance our lives. What was once little more than a novelty has evolved into a tangible force that shows no signs of slowing down – although for those of us of a certain age I’m not sure that the novelty of feeling that you are on the bridge of the USS Enterprise will ever truly disappear – that none of the voice assistants can yet be programmed to act on the phrase “make it so” is a huge oversight on the part of developers!

By 2022 the home automation market is conservatively expected to be worth $79.57 billion globally, with North America making up the lions share of the market, and with Apple and Google firmly focusing on expanding into the market over the next 5 years it’s safe to say that smart home technology is here to stay.

Getting into home automation can seem daunting and most people start with an impulse purchase and then add components on an ad-hoc basis. Typically this ends up costing more in the long term and invariably means you get lumbered with a superfluous kit – be honest, who doesn’t have a cupboard somewhere with a Microsoft Zune or an Amazon Fire Phone gathering dust? I even still have my Dad’s old Betamax that I can’t bring myself to part with because of his insistence on its superiority over VHS, which while true didn’t help when renting a movie on a Friday night!

It’s important to do a little research – know what the possibilities are with smart home technology and decide what you want from a home automation system. You can split home automation into three distinct parts – Home Appliances, Furniture and Safety & Security System.

Home Appliances

Long gone are the days of manufacturers adding pointless features to appliances and calling them smart appliances – remember the fridge that you could tweet from? Nothing else, just send tweets. Now appliances are serious about there smart credentials and offer real value to your life. Now a smart refrigerator can be monitored and adjusted through an app, with autonomous controls to keep humidity perfect, monitor food levels, provide a fresh flow air filter and much more. This helps reduce food waste and massively improve energy efficiency.

Smart TVs now have gesture control, wifi as standard to access online streaming services, speech and facial recognition to help with restricting inappropriate content for youngsters in the home and again everything can be controlled through an app.

When it comes to saving money and improving energy efficiency, smart thermostats are an incredible investment. You can control your entire house, monitoring and adjusting temperature levels throughout the day. Programmable smart events can mean that needlessly heating or cooling areas of your home are a thing of the past.

Smart lights straddle home appliances and safety and security systems. As well as incredibly fun aspects like syncing with movies and music it is also an invaluable burglar deterrent.

Smart Furniture

In the modern automated home, comfort can also be smart!

Smart beds with adjustable firmness control, climate control, sleep monitoring and long-suffering partners will be delighted to hear – an anti-snoring system.  Smart Recliners with USB charging points, motorized headrest mechanism, power recline, swivel tray tables, accessory dock and LED lighting provides the perfect mix of ultimate comfort with smart technology.  Smart curtains can be set to open and close by alarm, offers burglar deterrent and can even integrate with Geo-based scheduling.

Safety & Security

Perhaps for a family home, the integration of smart safety and security systems offers the greatest peace of mind. Smart locks, fire alarms, and burglar alarms, smoke alarms; heat sensors and surveillance cameras can all be operated from one device, monitored remotely and constantly providing activity alerts and offering true 24hr home protection. When you consider that 60% of burglars stated that the presence of a security system influenced them to target another property you can see how invaluable they can be. Having true smart monitoring allows you to react to any potential threat before it escalates.

Home automation has so much potential; from simple convenience and time saving through to energy efficiency and security – and let’s be honest, it’s incredibly cool too.

That’s why it’s important to fully plan what your goals are, set a budget and to get professionals in to consult, advise and even install. With so many devices available it’s also important to look at ease of use and in certain circumstances compatibility, although apart from some specific cases (Google and Amazon, I’m looking at you) most smart devices and manufacturers are moving to allow as much compatibility as possible. The best advice is to wherever possible get a little hands-on time with a device, pick what feels most natural to you and “make it so”!