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How Smart Are Smart Houses?

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The adoption of digital technologies has made a difference change in the way we as a society live. From businesses to public facilities to transportation and beyond, computers, networks and cutting-edge equipment are helping to reduce the tedium of repetitive tasks and adding to the convenience and comfort of everyday living. Perhaps the most impactful changes are taking place inside the home as innovative systems are providing fantastic new functionality known as a "smart house".

The term smart house is used to define a residence that employs a control system to integrate the home's various automated, digitally networked components. These systems allow the home owner to manage every aspect of the home's operation using a single button or voice control.

An increasing number of today's homes are being equipped with low voltage communication network cables and task-specific digital equipment that support a wide range of "intelligent" systems. Some of the most common include: home theater and entertainment control centers, door-phones and intercom systems, surveillance cameras, driveway vehicles sensors, automated thermostats, motorized window blinds, and programmable irrigation systems.

For example, when the homeowner utters the words "I'm home" or presses a button on their key ring remote from their car as they approach the house, the lights will turn on in the driveway, garage, kitchen, and hallway, the thermostat in the house will adjust to their desired preset temperature and the furnace will kick on to heat the home, the interior doors will unlock and the garage door will open, the bathroom will start drawing a bath and the whole house audio system will start playing a favorite song.

For another example, a complete sequence of auomated events may be triggered when the alarm goes off at 6am, causing the dimmer light in the room to slowly start to brighten, the coffee pot to turn on and begin to brew, the intruder alarm to shut off, the curtains in the downstairs rooms to open and the towel warmer to turn on in the bathroom.

These are just a few demonstrations to illustrate how smart home technology can be used to automate routine tasks performed in the line of everyday life. Each control system is set to meet the exact requirements and desires of the homeowner, customized to automate operation of the home systems through a single push button control or voice command.

While these systems were considered to be fanciful and futuristic just a few short years ago, they are becoming more and more commonplace. Considering the rate of change and innovation, the home of the future is quickly becoming a reality of the present.

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