When it comes to developing a smart home system, there are various types of devices to consider. Voice assistants, smart locks, and automated lighting and temperature systems are just a few examples of essential fixtures that can be integrated into a smart home. However, smart outlets are often overlooked despite being crucial elements in the smart home automation landscape. Smart outlets go beyond being simple upgrades to AC plugs and wall outlets – they are integral to the functioning of a smart home. Just like other smart devices, smart outlets are rapidly evolving and should be recognized as more than just accessories for connecting devices.
Smart devices simplify our lives by collecting and analyzing data through sensors to monitor environments. According to The Tech Edvocate, smart devices are defined as devices that can connect to the Internet and be controlled or communicated with remotely. They can connect with other smart devices, share data, and work together seamlessly to make our lives easier. Smart devices have the ability to learn our behavior over time through machine learning and artificial intelligence algorithms. For example, smart speakers have become popular companions, with a survey by Ofcom showing a rise in smart speaker ownership from 22 percent in 2020 to 39 percent in 2022. Participants in the survey described their devices as companions due to their ability to engage in conversation. This is particularly important in a time when loneliness has increased due to the pandemic.
Smart outlets, similar to traditional plugs and sockets, have smart capabilities. They can be controlled via Wi-Fi connectivity from devices such as smartphones, tablets, and smart home ecosystems like Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. Some smart outlets even have dedicated apps for control. Integrating smart outlets into a home brings several benefits, not all of which are related to technology. First, they are a step forward in home automation, allowing for remote control and automatic operation of internet-connected devices in the home. Home automation functions through an ecosystem of devices connected through communication protocols like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and Zigbee. Smart outlets can be controlled through operating systems like Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, monitoring changes in motion, temperature, and light to provide information about the device's environment.
Smart outlets are also environmentally conscious. They are energy-efficient and often feature timer functions that automatically turn appliances and devices on or off. This not only provides convenience but also saves money on utility bills by cutting off excess power to unused devices. Additionally, smart outlets have an unobtrusive design, seamlessly integrating into walls and existing electrical systems without transforming the appearance of a home.
Here are a few notable smart outlets in the market today:
1. Leviton Decora Smart Outlet, Tamper-Resistant 15A, Wi-Fi 2nd Gen: This smart outlet is compatible with various smart home ecosystems and offers features like plug-load control and maintenance of ON/OFF status during power fluctuations.
2. Geeni Current+Charge Smart Wall Outlet with 2 Plugs & 2 USB Ports: This smart outlet features two plugs and two USB ports, allowing users to control multiple devices simultaneously. It works with Wi-Fi networks and is compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google Home.
3. The InvisOutlet Pro and InvisDeco from Intecular: These smart outlets offer multiple sensors built into the cover plate, including temperature, humidity, air quality, motion, and light sensors. They also feature a color-coded indicator to notify users of their room's air quality.
In summary, smart outlets play a significant role in home automation and should not be overlooked in the development of smart home systems. They provide convenience, energy efficiency, and a seamless integration with existing electrical systems. With their advanced capabilities, smart outlets are essential devices that contribute to the growth of smart home automation.
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