How smart AI technology is changing our home life

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Technology is all around us. With recent advancements in AI technology, it seems as though everything is digital, automated and somehow running on a microchip. Housing, while notoriously slow to adopt change, is no longer resisting, from 3D printed concrete homes, to internet-connected appliances and smart-phone-enabled everything.

The challenge is that for the most part, tech firms are all independently reinventing the wheel. Proprietary tech allows one (if successful enough) to corner the market, scoop market share and the revenues that come with it. We, however, end up with 1,000 different apps on our phone, each controlling different tech elements in a messy and cumbersome way.

This is about to change for homeowners looking to monitor and control their largest assets and make life at home easier. For the good or bad you ask? That remains to be seen.

What’s the matter with Matter?

Matter is a new smart-home technology formerly known as Project Connected Home over IP (Chip), announced in Dec. 2019. The goal of Matter is to be the single source control link for more than 550 tech manufacturing firms. Simply put, it allows internet-connected devices from different manufacturers to communicate simply and securely.

For folks building a smart home, Matter theoretically lets you buy any device and use the voice assistant or platform you prefer to control it.

Some of the smart-home technology companies that have announced their support for Matter include Amazon (Alexa), Google (Google Assistant), Apple (HomeKit), Samsung (SmartThings), Philips Hue, Legrand and Nanoleaf. Consumers who buy from any of the competing off-the-shelf technology can plug and play into this system and mix and match as desired, based on their personal needs – all without having to hire an IT specialist or be a tech wizard themselves. The key here is ease of use and cross-connectivity, regardless of the device type or the manufacturer.

Yellow… anybody need a home assistant?

Things in tech move fast – so as much as Matter is a new and exciting collaborative tech, Yellow, a new all-in-one home assistant, is poised to eclipse it in the race for your home investment dollars (and user data, no doubt). Home Assistant Yellow integrates 1,000+ different devices and services, allowing you to create powerful automations and get insight into your energy usage, all from an easy-to-use interface that runs 100 per cent locally without anything in the cloud. Plug and play – with ZERO setup and no monthly trailing fees. It’s also already set up to be integrated with Matter. One simple app controls everything – AV, security, appliances, energy consumption and creation, temperature — you name it.

Existing old house? No electrical wiring required – this can all run off a single PoE (power over ethernet) connection. Everything else automatically connects wirelessly and appears in the app to be controlled when you want. Best part? It’s configurable and expandable. It’s fully open, all data is stored locally, and it doesn’t require the internet to operate, so you don’t need to fear another Rogers outage.

This new smart-home component has been in development for eight years, was released in March and is set to explode, given its cross-pollination capabilities, even with the old and outdated internet-connected items in our homes, as it makes them relevant again due to ease of use.

Security and privacy, you ask?

Yellow holds all data locally, in your home, so the risks associated with data breaches at companies, or the sink that happens if a tech firm goes out of business and loses all your data, are reduced. Identity theft, target location tracking, password manipulation, physical property intrusions, rogue recordings and data manipulation, as well as property damage, are all well documented risks associated with the benefits of smart-home technology. We have all had a computer virus, or fraudulent credit card or bank card transaction.

Opening your entire home and family to those risks is very real. If you are not connected to the internet, as in the case with Yellow, those risks are reduced, but if everything the controller is controlling is connected, the risk remains. Routine password rotation and the ability to still operate in the case of a power and internet outage remains a very real necessity, so as not to lose the ability to function in the home when those utility grids fail… which they do.

The last word

George Jetson was 40 years old in the TV series The Jetsons, which aired from 1962-63. Since it was set 100 years in the future, he would have been born in 2022. Are we 39 years away from perfect smart-home automation and technology? With the advancements in AI over the last five years, and even in the most recent year, one might be more accurate to say the future is now! When we revisit smart-home technology five years from now, at the pace of progress, things will look much different. All of the above said, in the cartoon, everything is amazing, and yet no one is happy… maybe don’t toss that old rotary phone out just yet!

Brendan Charters
Brendan Charters
"Brendan Charters is Partner at Toronto Design-Build Firm Eurodale Developments Inc. – 2017 OHBA Renovator of the Year. eurodale.ca @eurodalehomes (416) 782-5690"
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