Jeff Sprague

Jeff plays a collaborative role on the Chicago studio design team delivering insight-driven results sensitive to clients’ business requirements as well as end users' needs.

Smart Homes Lead the Way

Way back in 1975, technology was developed that paved the way for how so many of us are living and interacting with our homes. Developed by Pico Electronics, X10 was the first protocol that supported electronic device communication to enable home automation.

What strikes us is that 42 years ago, a company of innovative thinkers saw an opportunity and forged ahead to provide a solution that is still being used today. This speaks to the power of human-centered design and in knowing how to take advantage of the best in technology to meet the needs of today’s consumers.

Taking Advantage of Smart Home Automation
Like every innovation, it only makes sense if it solves a need or problem. This is what makes smart home automation so exciting, and essentially limitless. The Internet of Things (IoT) has gifted us the ability to always stay connected and in control.

It is in our homes that this connection and control is becoming ubiquitous and now the standard in new home design. Smart home automation is a prime example of how an idea translated into an opportunity which then converted into research of how to harness the latest in technology to meet the needs of today’s consumers.

Yes, the smart home automation of today (and the future) is emblematic of how Radius experts and leaders think about using the best-in-class of ideas, research, analysis, human-centered design, and technology to give us what we need to make our lives better. Discovery and design – brought together for true innovation.

Here are some of our favorite ways to use smart home automation to make your life (and your dog’s life) better at home and away from home.

  • Open and Close Doors: If saying “open sesame” to open your garage door, front door, or any other door in your home gets you excited – well the good news is you can do it. Remotely control the doors in your home with voice commands or a swipe/tap of an app on your smartphone or tablet.
  • Home Security: Have you ever said to your partner “I wonder what the dog is doing right now?” Well, wonder no more. With the smart application of interior cameras and outdoor monitoring systems, you can know what your dog is doing and monitor your home from wherever you are. For example, while on vacation, get alerts when your dog sitter comes in or the paper is dropped off on your front step or when an unwanted guest attempts to break-in.
  • Stay Healthy: You know how interested we are in medical device technology and the IoT, and now with great innovation in smart home automation, we’re seeing ways we can be fully in connected with our health and wellness. Step on your scale and have an update sent to your fridge to adjust your daily meal plan. Feel-at-ease when you’re not able to visit an elderly family member, with robot technology that can monitor and communicate with both you and your family member.
  • Never Be in the Dark: Coming home to a dark house late at night or turning lights on/off on a schedule when you’re away or using motion detectors to turn on night lights – the options are limitless when it comes to lighting. Smart bulbs that change color, lighting systems that react to your motion allowing for hands-free light control, or emergency lighting systems connected to your smart home security system can all make your life safer and more convenient.
  • Cooking, Cleaning, and Mowing: Control your sous-vide cooker, electric smoker, or oven from your office so that your food is cooked and ready for you when you get home. Unexpected company, no problem with smart vacuums, mops, and lawn mowers who are working for you when you can’t (or don’t want to).
  • Too Hot or Too Cold: Perhaps one of the most popular uses of smart home automation is the control over our heating and cooling systems. A range of systems are available to make sure your home is cooled and heated however you want from wherever you are.

We want to hear from you – tell us on the Radius Facebook page what you’d like to see in smart home automation or about your favorite use of this technology.

Smart Home Communication Options
While X10 remains in-use today, we’re now seeing a new wave of home automation and communication technology in 2017. By taking advantage of the knowledge, technology, and consumer need – we’re see innovative thinking coming to life.

  • X10: pioneer in smart home communication. Started as being hard-wired – is now wireless. X10 systems can be complicated to install when compared to newer wireless compatible devices.
  • UPB: Universal Powerline Bus is powerline only and as a result is expensive and not used in new devices.
  • Insteon: developed to connect powerline-based and wireless communication protocols. Compatible with X10 and newer wireless devices.
  • Z-Wave: home automation protocol that runs on 908.42MHz. Uses the mesh network to relay messages from one Z-Wave device to another. This low power dependent technology is ideal for devices that rely on battery power.
  • Zigbee: an 802 wireless communication standard. Uses the mesh network to communicate and is used in many devices.
  • Wi-Fi: the most ubiquitous communication network that supports a range of home automation devices. Can be challenging to secure bandwidth though in a house with multiple Wi-Fi devices.
  • BLE: Bluetooth Low Energy is used in a range of devices but is not the primary protocol for home automation devices. Has a limited range and is not ideal for tools/devices that need to be connected at all times.

Generally, if you’re new to smart home automation, it’s best to choose either Z-Wave or Zigbee since there is a wide range of devices that can support your home automation needs. If your home is using X10, then it’s worth transitioning to Insteon, which allows you to use wireless smart home automation.

Smart Innovation for Better Living
The smart innovators are those who are taking advantage of the best in research, design, discovery, prototyping, and critical thinking. The opportunities that can and will work are those that have been studied, debated, discussed, and reviewed from all angles – this is smart innovation.

In knowing how you can take your idea, turn it into a feasible opportunity that meets the needs of consumers – while ensuring a cost-effective and viable business, you can be part of the next wave of smart innovation.

Discover your true potential with the Radius team of experts working for you to eliminate barriers to success – keeping you on top. I’m looking forward to posting a series of blogs on this topic, coming soon!

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