We live in a hyperconnected world where the word ‘smart’ finds its way in front of many words.

Smartphones, smart TVs, smart appliances, smart cars — these are more than just mere buzzwords. They all make up are the Internet of Things, which is a breathing ecosystem of devices that can communicate and interact with each other to make life easier for consumers.

You may not realize it yet, but you probably come across smart devices on a daily basis.

Your phone, for example, is the archetypal smart device. Not only does it have multiple connectivity options with other smart devices, it’s also capable of delivering custom functionality and experiences that are tailored to your needs.

Smart devices have also made their way into commercial establishments, offices, and even entire cities. In recent years, however, manufacturers have been making significant strides in how ‘smart’ can be put next to the word ‘home.’

Without further ado, here’s a quick introduction to smart homes and how they work:

Introduction to Smart Homes

In simple terms, a smart home is any residential property equipped with a network of connected smart devices — typically via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth — that can execute various workflows.

Smart home technology is also called “home automation” since most activities can be managed, run, and automated from a single interface. This could refer to a smartphone, a virtual personal assistant, a tablet, or any other network-enabled “hub” that has the software capabilities to interact with all the other devices in the smart home ecosystem.

It’s worth noting that most smart home devices also collect and share non-sensitive consumer usage data with one another. Doing so allows these devices to customize and fine-tune their performance based on the owner’s unique usage patterns.

To help you understand how smart homes work, here are some of the most common use cases of smart home devices:

1. Security
Even homeowners who aren’t interested in technology, in general, have a compelling reason to invest in a smarter home.

With the help of smart home security devices, features such as video surveillance feeds and sensors that cover entry points can easily be integrated into any house.

Comprehensive smart security platforms also enable homeowners to access these devices remotely through a smartphone app. They can lock doors, review security alerts, manage the heating system — all without having to be physically there to operate the devices.

2. Entertainment
A smart home entertainment system may consist of a smart TV, a wireless speaker system, a game console, and a mobile “remote” app. With smart home technology, users can perform activities like streaming music, playing YouTube videos, and adjusting individual settings across different devices while only interacting with one of them.

Using the right tools, users can also automate certain activities in conjunction with other smart home systems. For example, if you use a smart TV, you can design a workflow that automatically engages your front door’s smart lock system whenever a movie is played.

3. Cooking
Smart home technology can make cooking easier with devices that human error from recipes.

One particular example would be the use of smart coffee makers that can prepare a set number of coffee cups with a specific strength level. By integrating the device with an automation platform like IFTTT, you can create a workflow that produces coffee first thing in the morning whenever your alarm goes off.

Some examples of smart home devices for kitchens include an automated slow cooker, smart plates that track your caloric intake, and a fork that can monitor your eating habits. Higher-end appliances, such as smart fridges, can also be packed with more elaborate features — from text messaging to internal cameras that lets you view its contents from anywhere.

4. Lighting
Based on what you learned about smart technology thus far, you may think that smart lighting only pertains to bulbs that can be toggled on and off using a mobile app.

At the base level, that’s exactly how smart bulbs work. However, these devices also allow homeowners to adjust the brightness, set a schedule, create groups, and sync your entire lighting system with other smart home systems you may have.

An example would be a group of smart bulbs that automatically dim or change color whenever you turn your smart TV on. You may also get creative by planning a lighting scheme that highlights the decorative elements in your home with a single tap.

5. Personal Assistants
Lastly, the smart home market gained momentum with the introduction of personal assistants like Google Home and Amazon Alexa.

In addition to fulfilling the role of your smart home hub, virtual assistants can also recognize voice commands that control the rest of your smart home systems. Both Amazon Alexa and Google Home are also capable of matching voices with individual family members as long as they train the device via a quick setup process.

With voice matching, virtual assistants can deliver personalized updates, music playlists, and other content based on who’s talking. Of course, this feature can also be turned off in case certain family members have similar-sounding voices.

Below is a list of things you can do with a smart home virtual assistant: Find Your Phone
Whenever you misplace or forgot where you put your phone, you can simply use a “find my phone” voice command to have your virtual assistant ring it.

Make Calls
You can also make legitimate calls to other people while displaying your own phone number to the recipient.

Set Reminders
Just like smartphone assistants like Siri and Bixby, virtual assistants can also add events to your calendar using only voice commands.

Ask Questions
Finally, virtual assistants can serve as your personal search engines whenever you need answers fast.

Conclusion

Although smart devices can be handy when used autonomously, you can only appreciate the beauty of the technology once you weave them together seamlessly into a smart home.

Creating automated smart home workflows is like programming your own house to cater to your every need. It doesn’t matter if you’re just waking up, coming home from work, or enjoying the company of your family — with the right combination of devices, there’s always a way to create something new and amazing in your smart home.