Over the last couple of years, the ‘Internet of Things’ has quickly moved from specialist technology to mainstream electronics shops. Despite the geeky name, the concept is straightforward: it refers to a system where everyday objects are interconnected, enabling them to communicate send and receive data so users can control them over the Internet. It’s real, it’s growing and the smart home sits right at its heart.
In fact, connected ‘things’ have been around for a while. Computer scientists controlled a toaster over the Internet in the late 1980s. But the rapid spread of smartphones and the increasing intelligence of smart sensors is nurturing an ever-expanding Internet of Things. Connected living is taking off.
Users already control many everyday services from a smartphone screen. Users can order a taxi and buy the latest music or a bus ticket. Users check their bank account or the latest sports scores. Users can book a hotel, a train journey or even a private jet, all with a couple of swipes on a palm-sized device.
Smart-home appliances promise users even more capabilities. Smart thermostats can learn their routines and track their phones to ensure the house is warm when they get home. Install smart bulbs and they can switch their lights on and off from the other side of the world. Users can even pre-book a morning cup of tea by remotely boiling an iKettle.
Home security, too, is getting smarter. Everything from smoke detectors to CCTV cameras can be controlled from an App. But what about the most important security point in the house: the front door? A smart home should start with a smart door.
With a smart door lock, homeowners no longer need to carry keys, or get spares cut for a cleaner, the kids or a cat-sitter. With a smart lock, users can let guests in remotely with an App, or provide them with a temporary PIN code to open the door. A glance at their mobile phone provides peace of mind that, yes, they did remember to lock the front door on the way out.
A recent report published by ASSA ABLOY, the parent company of Yale, and IFSECGlobal.com finds a large majority of consumers rate a smartphone or PIN code at least as secure as a key when it comes to opening the door to their homes. Indeed, between a third and half of respondents to the survey see a smart lock as a significant security upgrade.
While much of the buzz around home automation surrounds Silicon Valley start-ups and various Californian tech giants, ASSA ABLOY says that it is its brand, Yale, that has the biggest range of residential smart locks on the market. Connected Yale locks work with smartcards, fobs and smartphones. There are smart locks to fit timber, PVCu, composite or metal front doors, in multiple European formats.
At the heart of the company’s smart door lock range is interoperability; open standards are the key to making homes smart. Yale smart locks work as standalone products but adding the Yale Smart Living module provides integrated App-powered control as part of the alarm and CCTV system. Add a Z-Wave module and Yale smart locks work on the Samsung SmartThings platform. SmartThings is a fast-growing hub for hundreds of compatible devices by multiple third-party providers, all of which can be controlled from a single App on the Android, iOS and Windows Phone operating systems.
Integration plans go further. In early 2016, Yale announced that it was working with AT&T providing Keyless Connected and Keyfree Connected locks into the O2 smart home eco-system. Scheduled for launch later in 2016, the Yale Linus is a smart lock that works with the Google-owned Nest platform. It will join a growing Works with Nest ecosystem, alongside products from Whirlpool, Phillips and Lutron.