What is smart home technology? A guide for absolute beginners

If you’re curious about a smart home and the technology behind it, you’ve come to the right place.

Smart home gadgets and services are booming with constant growth. You can connect all the devices in your home to the network and monitor them remotely. Smart home technology basically brings automation to the home.

We will help you understand smart home technology in detail so that you can convert your home into a smart home without investing a lot of time and money.

What is smart home technology?

Smart home technology involves gadgets, devices, and home appliances with wireless connectivity. When connected to the home Wi-Fi Internet network, they communicate with each other, a smart bridge or a mobile phone application.

You can effortlessly control these devices from anywhere using a connected smartphone or mobile app. A few high-end smart devices go the extra mile to provide energy savings and personalized services.

At the center of any smart home ecosystem, you’ll find a smart speaker. You can ask him to adjust the lighting in the house, the heating, etc. They are basically small, voice-activated computers that can search the web or manage your schedules.

How it works?

An operating diagram of Smart Home Tech

Some smart home technologies rely on a mesh network. Zigbee and Z-Wave are the most popular smart home mesh network protocols. A mesh network protocol allows all smart home devices to dynamically connect to each other through a nested network system that does not depend on any hierarchy. Other smart home protocols include colloquial names like Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.


At the center of most smart homes is a smart hub. A smart hub can be a Zigbee / Z-Wave based smart bridge, a smart speaker, or a mobile phone app. You need to connect one of these hubs to your home Wi-Fi network. Home appliances like smart lights, smart coffee machines, smart thermostats, video doorbells, smart security cameras, smart door locks and more will connect directly to home Wi-Fi or a central hub .

A generic Wi-Fi router

You will get a mobile app for the smart bridge where all the compatible smart home devices will appear. You can set a schedule for these devices or just make them work with single commands.

Some of the smart devices will communicate with each other and analyze your daily routine to automatically match your likes and dislikes. Most smart devices send push or email notifications if something goes wrong.

Most affordable and user-friendly smart home systems operate in the cloud through the home internet. However, high-tech business premises and high-end households have stand-alone smart home systems.

Best smart home ecosystems

A big choice to make when building a smart home is which smart home ecosystem to select. These are currently the three big names.

1. Amazon Alexa

An image of the Amazon Alexa device

The e-commerce giant has developed the virtual assistant Alexa for its Amazon Echo devices. But Alexa has become a wide variety of other devices.

Alexa speakers support various smart skills such as voice calls, online news, entertainment, scheduling, multi-room audio and many more. If you want to create a smart home configured with Alexa, you need to purchase smart devices that display the Works With Alexa tag.

Related: Amazon Alexa vs. Google Home vs. Apple HomeKit: What’s the Best Smart Home System?

2. Apple HomeKit

A visual of the Apple HomeKit site
Image Credit: Apple

HomeKit is Apple’s own smart home system. You can control devices through HomePod, HomePod mini, iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, Apple Watch, and Mac. Instead of relying on individual apps, you’ll control everything through Apple’s Home app or with a voice command to Siri. Make sure to look for smart home devices that are compatible with HomeKit.

3. Google Assistant

A Google Nest Hub device
Image Credit: Wikimedia

Most Chrome OS smartphones, tablets, and computers support Google Assistant, Google’s own smart home system. It is also available on iOS devices.

To create a Google Assistant smart home, you need a Google Home or Google Nest smart speaker and compatible devices.

Related: What is the Google Home app and what is it used for?

The central control application of this ecosystem is the Google Home application.

Common devices for a smart home

Here are some great smart home devices to get you started.

1. Smart security camera

You can install smart home security cameras in and around the house. They usually connect to cloud storage to store pictures. You can also view the live stream on a mobile app or smart speaker with a display like Google Nest Hub or Amazon Echo Show.

Many smart security cameras also offer motion detection and high intensity LED floodlights for added security. They often send push notifications when a stranger is hanging out in the backyard.

2. Smart thermostat

Smart thermostats are the most popular smart devices. They control the heating system for automatic temperature adjustment.

Some advanced models, like the Google Nest Learning Thermostat, even study your routine and set a heating and cooling profile themselves to help save you money.

Related: The Best Smart Thermostats For Your Home

3. Smart door lock and video doorbells

Smart locks allow you to enter the house without a key and automatically lock the door behind you. You can share access codes with your friends and family to let them into the house when you are not there.

With a video doorbell, you can easily protect your property from home invasions, unwanted lawyers, and porch hackers without opening the door. These devices send video feeds, notifications, and even voice alerts to smart speakers.

4. Smart lights

Smart lights save you time and money. These are energy efficient LED lights that consume less energy than the old incandescent bulbs. In addition, you can control their activity from mobile apps, wearable devices or using simple voice commands.

You can even turn smart lights on and off remotely if your house is empty for added security.

Smart home technology privacy and security

An illustration of internet security

You can follow these basic steps to protect your public cloud-based smart home from threats:

  • Do not share your home Wi-Fi password with anyone.
  • Use strong passwords, remember them, and change them frequently.
  • Notify the service provider if you see any unusual wires connecting to your line.
  • Update the firmware or app of smart devices like Smart Bridge, Amazon Echo, or Google Home.

A simplified smart home

Smart home technology continues to gain popularity due to its ease of use and convenience.

If you have a home Wi-Fi network that can handle a few devices, you can set up a beginner-level smart home. Simply connect your smartphone and smart device to the network. And with just a few clicks on the mobile app, you can start building a smart home.


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