Setting up a smart home in Dubai is not all what TV commercials portray it to be. There aren’t robots that’ll have pancakes ready as you wake up or an automated shower and dressing facility, well not yet anyway.
However, home automation is simpler than it used to be and, living in Dubai, the most advanced technology is easily accessible. Today, you can unlock your door/garage with your smartphone as well as turn on the air conditioning in specific rooms before you get home. Own a robot vacuum cleaner that cleans your home even in your absence and even own smart lights that turn your home into a party hall or cinema at the touch of a button.
While all this sounds rosy on the surface it lacks informative depth and begs the question…….
What exactly is a smart home?
Essentially home automation or ‘domotics’ is the process of creating homes equipped with lighting, heating, and other electronic devices that you can control and oversee with your phone/laptop/iPad, or other command device. Commonly known as a smart home.
A smart home offers you a vast degree of control. Sure you could go on and change all the lights with a press of a button or you could even use voice command features to get the job done. Further, if you have a home/ voice assistant such as Alexa you can centralize and automate your entire home. From selecting movies on movie night to keeping your bedroom nice and cool in the early afternoon, you can do it all.
Of course, this doesn’t mean you should go out and buy everything that connects to your Wi-Fi. Start small, begin buy purchasing one or two devices after weighing out your options and needs. Before you move on to decorate your home with larger, more expensive, and sophisticated systems.
Usually the primary smart home set up will include features to keep your home and loved ones safe. This includes cameras, sensors, sprinklers, security systems, alarms, carbon dioxide detectors, etc.
If you want to take it a step further and change the appeal of your decor and living ecosystem then grabbing some smart lights is the best option. Not only is it an economical option but also drastically alters the ambiance of your entire home. Doorbells and remotes are the next logical upgrade.
What is the backbone of your smart home in Dubai?
At the base, entry-systems are usually things such as motion sensors, window sensors and a centralized hub for the IoT (Internet of Things), which is the back bone of your smart home in Dubai. In fact Gartner predicted that over 20.4 billion ‘connected things’ will be in use by 2020. The smart home market is expected to touch the $151.4 billion mark by 2024. Nearly 50% of everyday house hold items will be part of the ‘connected home’ via IoT.
The alarming rate of growth does raise some concerns and the solution lies with effective IoT implementation within smart homes. Virtual digital assistants have stepped up in order to tackle routine tasks and automate functions with artificial intelligence. The single most important factor when it comes to the safety of your smart home is testing the end-to-end functionality. This means checking the connection and integration of multiple devices across different platforms. This allows you to include an array of smart home gadgets and electronics in a safe and dependable manner.
However, tech language aside, for the smart home seeker, remembering multiple smart home gadgets can be difficult. So, I’ve put together a list of smart devices to buy that I think are the best way to go about building a smart home in Dubai.
As mentioned earlier smart lights are usually one of the few beginning changes for a smart home in Dubai. They pose fewer hardware challenges, integration management needs, and almost no data security management. Further they change the ambiance of your home in a matter of seconds. Smart lights can be bought as single pieces or in bulk. They give you an increased level of freedom and control as they are available in an array of sizes, colors, and functions.
With smart lights you can change the lights of one particular room to begin with and slowly progress. This could be for your bedroom, washroom, living room, or kitchen. If you have a habit of leaving the lights on in a particular room this would be especially helpful. You can buy light bars to illuminate furniture or false ceilings, bulbs with color, and theme options, lighting panels for a gaming set-up, or even have door lamps or lamps for your front porch.
The Xiaomi Yeelight is capable of displaying 16 million colors. With remote control access you can control these light from anywhere at anytime. As an added bonus, you can even use a virtual assistant such as Alexa and Google assistant to control the lights. To access all it’s features you need to download the app on your smartphone, which gives you an increased level of control. When it comes to protecting the earth, the Xiaomi Yeelight ensures you do your bit with its save energy features and usage.
The Philips Hue starter kit is a top recommendation as the kit includes 1 Hue Bridge, 3 Hue white and color ambiance bulbs. Even the Philips Hue app allows you to control your lights from anywhere at any time. When at home, use the Echo or Google assistant to control your range of lights. You can even schedule when you want the lights to switch on and off at particular points in the day. You will need the Hue Bridge if you wish to use the app and make use of the presets and functions available with the lights. However, if you just want to turn the lights off and on then you can buy individual bulbs.
Connected thermostats aren’t something that are too new. They offer an increased level of flexibility of maintaining the temperature in your home. When setting up a smart home in Dubai you want to go beyond mere function. The perfect temperature sure makes for a cozy environment but why not couple that with savings on both your money and energy consumption.
The nest thermostat focuses on efficiency, safety, and ease of use. As a bonus it looks great on any wall in your home. Here’s essentially how it works. The Nest thermostat is connected with an Android app (sorry iPhone users) that let’s you control temperature remotely. It gives you a number of options for keeping your home warm or cool. Since you’re in Dubai cooling is going to be your priority but what about after a sweaty work out? The last thing you want is to come home and have the room so cold that you catch a chill!
As a bonus, Nest includes a little green leaf that pops up on the display to notify you that your current temperature settings will end up saving you money. Well, you know how artificial intelligence makes life easier? Well, the Nest software learns your preferences as you use the thermostat. In essence, it remembers your input and gradually starts making changes for you. In the end having a Nest Thermostat means you’ll be saving money and reducing energy consumption.
With a smart lock, you don’t need to worry about forgetting your keys and ditch them once and for all. Enjoy the safety and convenience of managing your lock wherever you go. You can control a smart lock by by using a smartphone app. Further, many models feature a numeric keypad on the lock. Some even take finger scans,voice commands, and connect to your home Wi-Fi. Some locks may need you to replace the current locking system while others can be integrated with a little tweaking.
A smart lock can be beneficial for a number of reasons, no more leaving keys with your neighbors for emergencies, no searching endlessly in your bag for keys while your shopping bags spill over, no more racing the evening rush because your spouse forgot their set of keys inside and are stranded. Further, in case you forget to lock up many smart locks will send you a notification and you can lock the doors remotely.
The August smart lock unlocks your home with a voice command feature. However, it does require the August connect Wi-Fi Bridge for this feature. It comes with DoorSense, which notifies you as to whether when the door remains open or locked. You can even control access for a guest or family member coming to visit for a few days. You can unlock your door by simply speaking to Siri, Alexa, or the Google assistant. As an added security measure, you can track activity at your door with a 24/7 activity feed.
The smart lock comes with Z-Wave Plus technology, which is the world’s leading wireless technology for security and home control products. The device locks your door automatically behind you. It has a simple 10-minute installation method and requires IoS 9.0 or Android 5.0 and higher.
Doorbell & Camera
Doorbells have been around for ages, we’ve had doorbells since before peep-holes that allowed us to see who is standing outside. Over time for security reasons camera’s became common. Integrating the two into a single device while eliminating the need for a peep hole on every door is simple and affordable. You can buy video doorbells that allow you to not only see but even hear the person who is standing outside your gate/door be it the mail man or an old friend.
Ring Video Doorbell
Ring allows you to see, hear and speak to people visiting your home from the phone, tablet or PC thanks to its video function. It sends you alerts as soon as it detects motion when visitors press the doorbell. One of the greatest advantages is that the Ring doorbell is wireless! That means no unnecessary tangling even while installing. It features night vision to keep your home safe even once the sun sets. You can monitor your home 24×7 with live video on demand. As an added bonus, Ring offers lifetime theft protection, if your doorbell gets stolen they will replace it for free.
Smart security systems give you an increased amount of control with just your smartphone. You can monitor your home and all its happenings no matter where you are. Smart security systems are extremely customizable. You can have a DIY one or pay a subscription and have your home surveillance 24/7 based on your needs.
For most, DIY set-ups are more than sufficient. The individual devices can be monitored with the help of a smart phone, tablet, security camera, video doorbells, etc. These devices use wireless protocols such as Wi-Fi, Z-Wave, Zigbee, or proprietary mesh networks. You’ll likely need more than one wireless standard to communicate with the main hub as power requirements, signal range, price, and size are different.
With certain smart security systems you can add rules to turn lights on when motion is detected, have doors unlock when the smoke alarm triggers, and record via camera when an alarm is tripped. Most basic entry-level DIY systems may support one or two wireless protocols and in most cases offer a limited selection of add-on components. A security system should be added to your list of devices when building a smart home in Dubai.
Much like the video doorbell this Ring device let’s you see, hear and speak to visitors from your phone, tablet and PC. It sits into standard electrical sockets for non-stop power, having a power-backup is extremely handy. It comes with UK plug so make sure to have an adapter with you. The device is ever-vigilant with built-in LED light strips and a 110-decible siren. The Ring security camera grants you the ability to customize motion zones that allow you to focus on the most important areas of your yard.
Electrical boards/plugs are an indispensable unit in every home. You’ll find them connecting TVs, phone chargers, music systems, and satellite connection to a single power outlet. Many plugs limit the number of large electronic appliances that you should connect due to the load.
Smart plugs offer you multiple benefits such as waking up to a toaster making your toast, heated bath water, hot hair iron, cooking dinner before you get home in the microwave, control household TV timings, and save money on electronics.
The plug is upgraded with 4 AC plug outlets that have a 3 pin connection. It also has 4 USB outlets which can be remote controlled individually. You can also use your homes voice assistant such as Alexa to control the plug and its connected appliances. The best part is you do not need to have another gateway. One app can handle it assuming the specifications are met.
Smart home Hub, what is it?
To avoid confusion I’ll get right to it. A smart home Hub is a mechanism that connects and controls smart devices in your smart home in Dubai. Think of it like the spine for your entire smart home network that connects to the whole body (your home). If you own just some lights then you can even get by with your smartphone. However, with multiple devices that require interaction such as a smart plug and smart lamp, you require a Hub. If you plan on running an entire smart home then know that no single hub can control all of the smart home devices. This makes it especially important to choose your Hub and devices accordingly.
Smart home automation Hub ties most of these devices together. The latest home automation hubs, such as Insteon, Samsung SmartThings Hub, Vivint Smart Home System, etc, support multiple protocols, which means you don’t have to settle for just one.
The number of devices a protocol can run also varies immensely. Z-wave is a wireless frequency and can support up to 232 devices. Zigbee is another protocol but with a smaller range and is compatible with more than 2500 devices. There are more such as Insteon, C-Bus, UPB, Bluetooth, etc, and see whether wired or wireless technology suits your needs.
You can also choose to use WiFi devices through platforms like Apple Home Kit, Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, etc. They are easier to install but do consume more power. The only real downside is that too many devices can affect network performance. Lastly, you can even use Bluetooth for smaller devices like smart doorbells and locks to save on power.
Secure your Smart Home in Dubai
Cyber-crime has been around for a while now. From fraudulent online activities to theft nearly every domain has experienced such issues be it stock markets, social media platforms, user data bases, and bank accounts. Building a safe ecosystem for your IoT devices blocks off new entry points for cyber-criminals. Doing so can help you protect confidential information such as bank details and financials that are stored on with your virtual voice assistant. It can also ensure that your in-home and security camera footage isn’t compromised, which would give criminals more than a blueprint to your home.
There are various ways cyber-criminals can compromise the security of your home. The two most common ways are by accessing your home network through your router & acquiring power over your IoT devices. A major contributor to this is the fact that most connected devices offer little-to-no security.
This shouldn’t cause you any stress as there are a number of ways you can make your smart home in Dubai increasingly secure.
- Change the router name: By doing so you remove the manufacturer name and remove the model, which otherwise can make it easier for people with a prying eye.
- Use stronger encryption methods: Something along the lines of WPA2 can help keep your network and communications secure.
- Create a guest network: Remember how we used to hand out WiFi passwords to our friends and family? Well if you have IoT devices connected this threatens the security. Create a separate network for visitors and guests as they may have their own device security compromised.
- Set stronger passwords: The last thing you want is ‘1234567890’ as a password when you have a smart home. Adding a mix of letters, numbers, and symbols is ideal.
- Update software regularly: There is a reason manufacturers send regular updates, don’t delay as it may patch up a security flaw. Don’t be afraid of logging on to your devices website to check for the same in case you haven’t received a notification.
- Two-step authentication: Using a two-step authentication can increase your security. Opt for an OTP sent to your smartphone to increase security.
Coffee has numerous health benefits as well, which keep you healthy and active. Some of them include increasing your fibre intake, protects against cirrhosis of the liver, lowers risk of type 2 diabetes, reduces the risk of Parkinson’s disease and depression, and even reduces the risk of colorectal cancer. As if you needed more reasons to drink coffee. However, note that one should not exceed 4 cups of coffee in day as 400mg of caffeine per day is the limit. Anything beyond is chartering into unsafe zones. If you take other stimulants such as a pre-workout or drink Redbull that contain caffeine you may need to rethink how many cups you can have in a day.
By following these recommendations, analyzing your needs you can build your dream smart home in Dubai. The products listed above should be included into your initial purchase as they do not consume much power, offer great use, and are easily compatible with virtually all protocols.