As more people are buying into Smart Home Automation, Smart Home Security and Smart Environmental Controls, myths about the technology builds up. From stealing your data to letting random people see inside your house and talk to your kids, many of the myths are based on a crumb of fact, but blown up, distorted and manipulated into scare-stories.
Despite the fact that many of the security issues have been addressed, or could have been avoided if the Smart Devices had been installed according to manufacturer’s recommendations, the myths persist. So what are the most common misapprehensions about Smart Home Technology, and what is the truth that underlies them?
Replacing all your old devices and replacing them with Smart Stuff is too expensive
When they were introduced, several years ago now, the cost of each smart device was quite high. This is natural with any new innovation in technology, and it’s equally natural that as the avant guard becomes mainstream, the price of this technology drops.
And you don’t need to replace everything all at once. Renewing old, obsolete or worn out items with similar, but Smart replacements is an incremental adoption process which is pinch-free and allows you to adapt slowly, while also spreading the cost. Then of course there are those things which don’t need to be replaced provided they can be powered by Smart Plugs which do the thinking for them.
To get the most out of Smart you need to be a tech whizz kid
The reality is that most Smart Tech is plug-and-play. You start it up, it finds the home network which it’s supposed to work with by itself, you download any apps which it needs to operate, apply a strong password, and you’re done. The point of Smart Home Technology is that it is the very essence of ease of use.
Some environmental controls, such as heating, may need an installation which is rather more complicated, but Smart installation engineers exist to take care of this kind of operation.
When Smart comes in through the door your privacy goes out the window
Your Smart devices are always listening, but they’re listening out for their wake-up command. And when you are speaking directly to an Alexa, Siri or Google device, it may share the audio with a live operator in order for better dialect, accent and language improvement, however, the audio is recorded, not live and it is only recorded after you’ve given the command “Hey Siri” or “OK Google”, meaning that it’s only the instructions you give your device which are ever heard by human ears.
Alongside the fear that corporations are listening is the fear that strangers can hack, infiltrate and abuse your Smart Devices in order to steal data about you, turn security devices off, and even spy on you or verbally abuse you and your family. Indeed there have been examples of this taking place, but this has almost always been down to someone taking advantage of poorly installed Smart equipment. Leaving security settings on default factory settings means that user names and passwords are easily guessed at, however, changing them is very easy and highly recommended by everyone involved in the industry.
Smart Home devices are silly gimmicky toys with no real long term benefit
For any able bodied person there is a certain element of truth, but that could be said of any technology; why have electric light when we have candles? Why have cars when we have horses? And why have chairs when we have the floor?
The truth is that any technology, if it is to last, must have a practical purpose which in some way enriches or makes our lives easier. It’s easy to dismiss the ability to turn a light on without getting up from your seat as ‘laziness’ if you’re able to get up and do it yourself, but what if you’re not? What if you’re able to see someone walk up to your front door when you’re away from home? You can see if it’s a delivery driver, a friend, or someone who wants to break in. Not only being able to see them, but talk to them in real time isn’t ‘gimmicky’, but rather a solution to a real world problem that we can’t always be in to receive guests or defend our property.
Everything just works together
In a perfect world, this would be true. Unfortunately, we’re not there yet! With all the different ways for one manufacturer’s device to communicate with others, Zigbee, Z-Wave, Bluetooth, WiFi, and IR, until there’s one universal standard, it will be necessary to use a Smart Home Hub which can interpret all these different protocols and unify them together.
So, while many of these myths are rooted in fact, those facts were either early rollout issues which were fixed thanks to real world experiences informing developers where the glitches were, or they are based on misunderstanding the hype behind the marketing. In any case, Smart Home Technology is with us, and it looks like it’s here to stay, and as it continues to improve and become cheaper you’ll find that no matter how much of a pessimist you are, you will end up using it, and you’ll probably like it too!
Originally published at https://dancash.substack.com.