The dawn of the smart home is upon us – are you ready?

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See ya, light switches

Smart technology is changing every aspect of home life. Image: Stanisic Vladimir/Shutterstock
Smart technology is changing every aspect of home life. Image: Stanisic Vladimir/Shutterstock

Have you ever arrived at work and panicked that you left the oven on?

Or gone on holiday and not been able to shake the feeling that you forgot to turn your bedroom light off?

Perhaps you’re concerned about how safe your home is from break-ins, or would like to be able to remotely check in on your sick grandmother to check she’s ok.

These worries could soon be a thing of the past with the rise in smart homes, which, with everything in your home connected and tracked via a smart phone app, can give you instant access to your property from anywhere in the world.

Also…

Have you ever fantasized that your coffee machine would get to work five minutes before your alarm? Or that your air conditioning would start cooling your living room in preparation of your return? Perhaps you are bringing a special someone home for the first time, and would like to have mood lighting and music ready?

These things can now be automated and managed remotely, and your home can truly start to work for you, offering unprecedented levels of comfort (or laziness – depending on how you view it).

Smart technology, although it may sound niche, is all but expected in today’s luxury homes. A recent study showed that 54 percent of home buyers would opt for a property with smart technology over one without, even if all other aspects were equal.

We had a lot of questions regarding this technology, so, thanks to BEX Asia, we managed to sit down with some people who know a thing or two about it – Denny Dong and Alex Lim of LifeSmart.


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Second left: LifeSmart director Alex Lim, Centre: founder and CEO Denny Dong
Second left: LifeSmart director Alex Lim, Centre: founder and CEO Denny Dong

Property Report: What does the perfect smart home look like?

Alex:
It should answer your everyday needs and it should shorten your routine. The smart home should be secure, energy saving, and should provide you with a better lifestyle. It takes away all the effort that is currently required to manage a house.

If you have young children at home, or elderly relatives, it helps you care for them. You can tune into CCTV and check your grandmother is ok. Did she fall down or she still sleeping?

This will answer a lot of unnecessary worries. If you realise you forgot to turn something off, you panic, you think it might cause a fire. If you’re nearby you can just rush back, but what happens if you are at the airport? What can you do then?

What are the most important aspects of a smart home?

Denny: The first thing is home security; people always worry about whether their homes are safe. This offers them peace of mind.

The second thing is lifestyle. Your house has numerous lights and electronic devices; you don’t want to go from room to room laboriously turning lights off when you leave home – a smart home can manage this kind of thing for you. It can give you a totally comfortable lifestyle.

Smart homes also have a broader society view, because a smart home can help you save energy for the benefit of the planet, but without sacrificing your life comforts.

This is not to mention that saving energy also means your utility bills are lower, so the investment in the technology is quickly made back.

What happens if there’s an internet shortage? Does that mean everything stops working?

Denny: With an internet shortage we obviously cannot get access to things that require the internet. But the smart home system has the capability to work automatically, so in the event of no internet, everything can still function how you want it. Lights, heaters and air conditioning can all be set to work on their own.

A smart home uses AI (artificial intelligence) and this connects to the cloud. We have a software that makes this all work seamlessly, so it will work normally even without internet.

More: Will the next successful smart city be in Southeast Asia?

What happens if someone hacks into your home – is that possible?

Denny: It’s not easy to hack into these systems. If the CIA wanted to do so, they probably could. There is encryption and protection in place, so the average person can definitely not hack into the it.

Alex: The system we have in place is similar to bank security, it’s very secure. If you lose your smartphone too, this shouldn’t compromise your security either. You just have to log into your account and change your password, then no one else can access it, even if they have your phone.

Is there any one device that is most popular?

Denny: You can’t really say what’s the most popular, because the smart home is a single product, it’s like asking what part of the car is the most popular – the car as a whole is the product, not just the gear box or steering wheel.

More: Your home is getting smarter. Are you ready for it?

Everything in a smart home is connected
Everything in a smart home is connected

What about old buildings – can they be turned into a smart home?

Denny: Yes. Technology wise it is easy because it is wireless, so it’s easy to install and easy to use.
You can build your smart home at any time you want.

After a few years, the smart home will become so normal, like it’s normal now to have a smartphone. People will feel they need a smart home because everybody else has one, so this includes property’s that are old.

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Have you noticed a difference in the demand across Asia?

Denny: In Japan people care rather less about security because life is pretty safe already, but they care about energy saving because there are electricity shortages in Tokyo.

In China people care about security, and they are interested in building next-generation style homes.

In Singapore there is a bit of both, it’s part security and part lifestyle factor, and smart offices and entire smart buildings are growing too.

What if I’m not sure I want a smart home? I like my light switches!

Alex: It’s just because you haven’t tried it. It’s like when iPhone first came out and lots of people still said – “no, I love my Nokia, it’s perfect.” Now, where are all the Nokia’s? It’s all changing.

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