Have you talked to your “connected” home lately?

“Oh, if these walls could talk”…who hasn’t wished that at times?   Well now they can!   And they’ll tell you things you need to know! Your home tells you there’s a stranger at the door, with a swipe of a finger you can see it’s your mother-in-law, delivering a package. Your home won’t  tell you if it’s a piping hot dinner she’s holding, but you can remotely open the door! (or not… ) 

It’s 4pm and your home tells you your teenage daughter hasn’t returned home from school. With a text you are relieved to find she’s not with that boy she’s been flirting with recently, but getting some tutoring at the school. 

Your home tells you the smoke alarm is going off. You can remotely determine which room and with a phone call to the kids, find out that another lesson in how to use the toaster oven properly to make pizza may be in order. 

You left for a 2 week vacation but never turned down the air conditioning.  As you kick off your flip flops and lay back in the chaise, you call up an app on your phone and remotely turn off the AC, saving hundreds of dollars in electricity…NOW it’s a restful vacation! 

You forgot to turn the heat up in your winter getaway after skiing for the weekend. You remotely set the heat to ensure the pipes don’t freeze. 

These are no longer the futuristic concepts of a home for the Jetsons, but in fact are readily available in a galaxy near you. This technology is being installed in more and more in homes just like yours. 

Recent advances in technology have made this more viable than ever. It starts with the network being faster and having greater bandwidth than ever before Furthermore, less expensive and more novel detection circuitry/sensors combined with decreasing costs in wireless radios have allowed more and more consumer products to become connected. Today’s generation is expecting to be “connected” and not just to social media sites but to the devices they interact with daily.   The proliferation of this is enabled by the convenient and ubiquitous smartphone to which we have all become tethered, like our own virtual leash…or an invisible fence. Our smartphone becomes the window, the single pane of glass, through which we can monitor, manage and control our devices.

The types of connected devices are endless:

  • tablets
  • TVs
  • game consoles
  • locks
  • household appliances (refrigerators, washers/dryers)
  • thermostats
  • smoke detectors
  • video cameras
  • switches
  • bulbs
  • outlets
  • etc.

By 2008, there were already more connected devices in the world than humans! In fact, Gartner predicts that by 2020, there will be more than 26 billion devices connected!   Through the internet of things (IoT) these many devices will not just be connected, but they will interact with one another, further enhancing our personal experiences.

No matter which devices we have or how we choose to use these “connected” gadgets, there is one common denominator to all of them: that is, that they need to be CONNECTED in order to serve their full purpose.   In many cases, the consequences of the lack of this connection could be critical (alarms, security), in others, it could impact productivity and in virtually all cases, it could frustrate a generation that expects instant gratification and has little tolerance for no connectivity. Therefore, the underlying connection, the common fabric, if you will, is the network and its availability. If this network fails: loses power or gets hung up, we lose the control, the management and convenience that we have come to rely on.   . In your home, this network is typically your wireless router and some other device from your ISP (modem, routers, etc.).

Storms and power outages can easily sever your network connection, just when you need it the most. Losing internet access breaks our line of communication and most importantly restricts the way we can contact friends and family during a potentially dangerous event. The best way to stay connected to the internet during power outages is by backing up home networking equipment and charging your smart devices with an uninterruptible power supply (UPS). APC by Schneider Electric Back-UPS will keep your network up and running for hours and charge your mobile devices as needed. The BGE70 can provide hours of runtime for low power devices like hubs and routers and the BG500’s watchdog feature automatically reconnects to the internet by rebooting networking devices if it detects network connectivity loss, which is very common if it gets bogged down by too many connections or your  ISP changes IP address.

Whether the desire to stay connected 24/7 is personal or for business, it has become a part of our daily life and knowing that the backbone of the network in your home or small business is backed up provides a sense of comfort.