Smart home technology can certainly make your life easier – but it can also make you safer. From smart locks to video doorbells, we’ll show you how the ‘Internet of Things’ can secure your home, protect your belongings and keep yourself safe.
Most of the buzz about internet-connected smart home gadgets surrounds their convenience or entertainment value – and yes, it’s pretty amazing to have an all-singing, all-dancing, voice-activated home entertainment system...
But beyond the audio-visual extravaganzas, connected home technology can have some far more practical benefits.
After all, if you’ve got a living room full of high-tech gadgets, you’ll want to keep it safe – and so, here’s our guide to smart home security.
Most of the time, a visitor at your front door is nothing to worry about, but you may still feel a twinge of uncertainty when the doorbell rings. And peace of mind is important – especially for older or more vulnerable people.
Enter the video doorbell. This simple yet remarkably useful gadget simply sends a photo or video to your smartphone, tablet or other kit when someone rings the bell.
Some, like the Ring video doorbell, also let you talk to your visitors through an intercom – a very helpful feature for those with reduced mobility.
Finally, smart doorbells have one more benefit: you don’t even need to be in your house to use them! Whether you’re at work, out and about or anywhere else, you’ll find out exactly who’s calling at your front door and when.
Smart locks give you complete control over who enters and leaves your home, without the hassle of getting keys cut or changing the locks. They can, of course, be fitted anywhere – but they’re probably most useful on the front door.
You’ll be able to instantly lock and unlock your door remotely from a smartphone app – and also grant instant, keyless access to friends and family via apps on their phones.
You can also grant certain people access only at certain times – so if you’re expecting a cleaner or tradesperson, for example, you can allow them access only for the hours they’re contracted to be in your home. And of course, you can effortlessly grant (or revoke) access to anybody at any time, without needing to cut a new key.
As with so much smart home kit, these locks have a particular benefit for older or less mobile users too, particularly when used with a smart doorbell: you can see, talk to and allow access to any visitors, from anywhere in your home.
The benefits of the video doorbell are obvious, but the principle applies to more than just your front door!
From your garage to your garden shed, there are any number of areas you might want to keep a closer eye on – and an internet-connected CCTV system gives you a number of advantages.
First and foremost, you can dial into your camera from your smartphone, tablet or computer, from anywhere in the world with an internet connection. This alone is far more convenient than traditional CCTV systems, where you’d have to access the recordings from a specific computer – or even video player, for really old-fashioned ones.
But a modern, smart CCTV system can do even more. Some can be set to notify you if they detect movement, saving you the hassle of checking your recordings – and more advanced models even let you pan, zoom and redirect the camera to focus on objects of interest.
So far, the kit we’ve looked at keeps you safe from snoopers and break-ins – but smart tech can also help keep you safe from other home hazards.
In particular, no home should be without smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, whether ‘smart’ or not. But going for the connected option gives you a few extra benefits – not least alarm notifications to your smartphone, wherever you are in the world.
Models like the Nest Protect can also give you a ‘Heads-Up’ early warning: a spoken announcement that it’s detected a small amount of smoke, or rising carbon monoxide levels.
But false alarms are common with smoke detectors, particularly in smoky kitchens. So if you know there’s nothing to be worried about, you can easily deactivate any alarm from your phone and try to salvage what’s left of dinner!
Finally, smart home tech can help put an end to that most common household scourge: losing your keys!
Just attach a smart ‘dongle’ like the SmartThings Presence Sensor to your keyring, and you’ll be able to instantly track your keys, wherever they’ve got to.
More sophisticated models can also notify you if the dongle leaves your home – so whether it’s keeping tabs on your kids or getting extra peace of mind for your valuable kit, you always know where your most important stuff is.