Today’s smart homes

Our homes are getting smarter and smarter every year. Now, I am not talking about a scenario like the cartoon world of The Jetsons. What I do mean is that our appliances are starting to interact with each other more, and we are starting to see smart technology in more aspects of our lives.

A recent survey, conducted by Rakuten Canada in August 2019, showed that over a quarter of Canadians currently own at least one piece of smart home technology. This could mean anything from a smart television to a Google Home or Amazon Alexa.

There were still plenty of people that were unlikely to purchase smart home technology – 46 per cent. This is due to lack of interest, privacy concerns, and the cost of the technology.

In the May/June edition of the magazine, coming to your mailbox shortly, I explore the hands-free residential faucet market. The faucet industry moved into the smart home technology field years ago with the introduction of touchless or hands-free sensor faucets.

The new innovation is voice activation. Depending on the manufacturer, the faucet is either hardwired or runs off batteries, and will connect to Google Home, Amazon Alexa or Apple applications.

Now, like the survey mentioned above, I can understand the privacy concern. I don’t mean this in the sense that I commonly hear about how the technology is constantly “listening” in on you. That isn’t how it works.

What I am concerned about is the security that is involved within this technology. The Canadian Centre for Cyber Security website explores the “internet of things (IoT) security for small and medium organizations.” They describe the risks to an organization – “Current IoT devices have a low degree of IT security control and weak encryption capabilities, leaving devices vulnerable to potential threats.” They suggest that users should understand the type of data the device sends and receives.

One interesting suggestion from the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada suggested that users create a guest Wi-Fi network just for IoT devices to keep them separate from computers and other more secure devices.

Hopefully, moving forward, there will be better safeguards to protect our personal information.

As for now, with the ongoing pandemic, I can foresee that technology involving some type of smart function will increase in popularity.

We will have to get used to a new normal in society. This may mean applying smart technology in new applications.


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