May 28th, 2019 8:18 AM by Jackie A. Graves
You walk into your house and the lights
automatically dim, your favorite song begins to play and the air gets slightly
cooler. Upstairs, your steam bath is already prepared and your blinds are
This is not a far-off fantasy, but rather the high-end of
high-tech homes — also known as smart homes. An all-inclusive system like this,
where face recognition sets off a chain of events via embedded sensors and the
internet to create the optimal home experience for each household dweller, can
cost up to $300,000, says Emil Hartoonian, real estate agent at The Agency in
Los Angeles. This type of hardware and internet connectivity is known as the
internet of things, or IoT.
futuristic bells and whistles are practically essential for today’s upscale
real estate buyer. Along the way, smart-home technology has transformed the way
people view their homes: instead of a static entity that’s manually operated,
it’s a personalized, automated unit. Customized systems like this usually come
with their own server, located in the house, and require professional
installers to set it up.
lighting to the sound, to the fireplace and window treatments — you can do all
of this on your phone before you arrive,” Hartoonian says. “Once you get used
to it, it’s hard to live without it. Buyers most certainly look for it in their
millionaires aren’t the only ones benefiting from today’s tech.
your home’s IQ game on a smaller budget
off-the-shelf version of customized smart-home technology is budget friendly
and can typically be installed yourself. You can still do things like automate
lights and the thermostat with plug-and-play devices that you can buy at
Target, Home Depot or online.
the Amazon Echo, Google Assistant and Siri are basically smart speakers that
are controlled by virtual assistants. They only require a power source and a
They can do
everything from answer questions and provide information (sports scores,
traffic updates and the closest pizza delivery) to make calls, send and receive
messages and play music. For less than $100, you can essentially go hands-free
with tasks you would normally rely on your computer or cell phone for.
Nest offer comprehensive home-security solutions, which connect home cameras, keyless
entries and carbon monoxide and smoke detectors to your smartphone interface.
You can set up Nest to unlock your doors from anywhere in the world. Couple
that ability with other features like outdoor cameras and this connected tech
can solve real-life problems.
imagine hiring a plumber to fix a leaky pipe. With technology like Nest, you
can identify the plumber on your doorbell camera and let them in remotely — and
then lock the door once they leave, all from your phone.
Denver-based tech company, offers wireless home protection which allows people
to monitor water leaks, gun and liquor cabinets, temperature changes and doors
opening and closing.
people wanted to protect their entire home, so we made a device that can
monitor eight different things,” says Brett Jurgens, co-founder and CEO of
solutions that can help curb major damage to your home. For instance, there’s a
water-leak detection feature. By getting an early warning, a homeowner can react
quickly and prevent a flooded basement or first-story ceiling disaster.
leveraged their ability to detect leaks via monitors and notify homeowners to
partner with insurance companies, Jurgens explains. The insurance companies
Notion teamed up with will give users a discount if they install Notion in
their homes. This benefits both the insurance company and the homeowner,
Jurgens points out.
yes, but what about private?
convenience of Siri reminding you about your coffee date or settling a debate
about who won the Grammy for best album in 2009 are balanced with security and
privacy issues, says David Mazières, a computer science professor at Stanford
that most of the off-the-shelf solutions, like Google Assistant and Echo, mean
going through the cloud, which puts users at risk of getting hacked. This can
be especially dangerous if you have multiple devices hooked up to one system.
If a hacker can gain access to that system, then they can ostensibly control
your doors and cameras while collecting private information.
There’s also the risk of mining the data to sell or use it to
sell you things. These companies might or might not have privacy policies and
they might or might not abide by them, Mazières says, citing Facebook’s
infamous problems with privacy over the past decade as one example of how
companies can benefit from and even abuse your private data.
companies might reveal things about you that you don’t want revealed. I think a
lot of people think they don’t have anything to hide and that works fine until
something changes,” he says.
One way people can find out if their connected devices are
sharing data is through spy apps, like the one created by Princeton University
called IoT inspector. This is an open-source tool that analyzes network traffic
to show users whether their Wi-Fi cameras, doorbells, thermostats or any other
connected device are sharing information with a third party.
According to their blog, the IoT Inspector has revealed third-party
sharing activity from companies like Chromecast and Geeni (a smart light bulb),
even when the devices were not actively being used. Chromecast was sending data
to Google, while Geeni was constantly sharing data with China-based IoT company
Mazières recommends that consumers weigh the risks and rewards
of the technology they’re bringing into their home. For example, an outdoor
camera is fairly innocuous as it basically just records street noise. However,
indoor cameras and devices that are made to listen to everything that’s said
inside your house (even when not in use) — including private conversations,
could compromise your privacy with relatively little benefit.
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