When most people think of “smart devices,” they picture an Amazon Echo or similar voice-activated assistant/smart speaker. However, this barely scratches the surface of what’s available. Nowadays, there are smart refrigerators, kettles, lights, and even locks. Below, we’ll explore a few ways in which the Internet of Things’ (IoT’s) smart devices can save you time and make your life easier.
Save time with automation
When you wake up in the morning, the first things you do are probably turning on the lights, making your coffee, and adjusting the thermostat, but your smart devices can do all of this and more automatically. Your time is valuable (and probably in short supply most mornings), so why waste it?
Of course, there are other benefits to automation. You’ll never have to get up in the night because you can’t remember if you locked the front door, for instance, and having the lights turn off around you is a sure-fire reminder that you should probably head to bed.
Lower your bills
For people who don’t like walking into a sauna when they get home, instead of cooling an empty house all day, it’s far more efficient (and less expensive) to just turn your smart thermostat down before you leave the office. Working late? That’s fine: you can always override the schedule and tell the device to turn on a little later.
The amount you save will vary based on your country’s climate, but the U.S. Department of Energy estimates you could save around 10% every year. It depends how advanced you want your system to be: if you turn off your power outlets when you leave, you’ll reduce your electricity bill too — just remember to leave your router on!
What about security?
Any internet-connected device comes with some degree of risk but you can secure your smart devices quickly and easily. To begin with, we’d recommend ditching the standard controller app that your device came with since there’s no telling what kind of information it collects. Luckily, there are better, privacy-conscious alternatives, such as UIB’s UnificationEngine®-powered SmartContact™, which lets you talk to and text your devices directly from over 30 of the most popular global services including WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and many more.
Some people worry about hackers using their smart devices against them or stopping them from working in the first place. However, you can prevent both of these situations by installing a Virtual Private Network (VPN) on your router. VPNs encrypt your internet traffic, preventing anyone from seeing what’s happening on your network and making it effectively impossible to tell which devices you have. Better yet, some services (such as ExpressVPN) can even shrug off mid-scale DDoS attacks, meaning attackers can’t stop you from using your devices by flooding their IP address with requests.
Are smart devices right for me?
Smart devices are becoming increasingly popular, and we can expect the range of available internet-connected appliances to grow in response over the coming years. Despite being slightly more expensive than traditional appliances, smart devices can pay for themselves in the long-term, and even if they don’t, they free up time and allow you to focus on more important things. After all, in today’s hyper-connected, always-on world, isn’t time the most valuable resource we have?
About the Author
Ian Garland is a futurist and indie developer who writes about online privacy for Comparitech.com.