A Beginners Guide to the Internet of Things

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At Beacon Agency we love diversity. This is encompassed in everything we do right down to the people we hire. As the latest member of the Beacon team, I can attest to this. My background is in luxury goods, specifically fashion and beauty brands. This is a world where words such as ‘Pairing’, ‘Mood’, and ‘Scenes’ are usually used to communicate aesthetic trends, not the control of devices. 

As a newbie to the Smart Technology industry, I am exploring all things smart, automated and connected, and sharing what I find along the way in this new blog series. If you too are a beginner, this is an open invitation to join me on my journey.  

First up, we need to start with the basics. What does it mean to be smart, automated, or connected?

 

Connected Home

 Devices and appliances are controlled by a remote control (be that a smartphone or tablet used as a remote control). Each device or appliance is connected to a network (these days, this is usually the internet) and therefore can be controlled remotely by a user. However, the key distinction is that the user chooses when and how to use the device/appliance and needs to give each command. These devices/appliances are what make up The Internet of Things. 

 

Smart Home

Uses your connected devices and appliances, but adds in a level of thinking via an operating system. This could be via the device/appliance having an operating system built-in (such as some thermostats). Or by connecting the devices/appliances to a hub with ‘thinking’ capabilities. By adding in this level of thinking, users don’t have to give each command to make their connected devices/appliances work. Instead, they can start to teach their operating system rules and allow the hub to decide if a device/appliance needs to be given the command on your behalf. For example, by setting rules based on your location your hub can command your lights to switch on independently when you are nearing home. 

 

Automated Home

 This is actually a description of the ubiquitous nature of computers being embedded into everyday objectives that automate tasks for us (such as washing machines). According to this blog, automated homes aren’t necessarily smart or connected homes. It seems the term ‘automated home’ is often also used to describe smart-enabled homes where ‘automations’ (rules and triggers for autonomous actions by device/appliances) have been set up. A little confusing, so let’s all agree to the same interpretation here and now, shall we? See ‘Automated Home’ – read ‘Smart Home where automatic actions (automations) have been set to activate autonomously’.