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Controlling the smart home

February 26, 2017

Controlling the smart home

A closer look at smart hubs, the “brains” behind home automation

If your customers are like most, creating a smart home is primarily a do-it-yourself project.  People choose from thousands of components, connect those devices to their home network and start enjoying their new connected life.

Sounds simple, but there’s one caveat: The more devices that get connected, the more separate apps are needed to control them. One app controls the electronic lock on the front door. Another manages the smart thermostat in the living room. A third automates the lighting throughout. And as more smart devices are added, jumping from one app to another can become a tedious exercise. Suddenly, convenience turns into complexity—definitely not the intended goal.

The solution: smart home hubs 

Smart home hubs serve as the “brains” for the smart home, integrating many smart gadgets together and giving users a centralized way to control them all. Hubs connect all the devices to the cloud and provide one app that acts like a universal remote.

 Using a smartphone or computer, people program settings and schedules into the hub. Based on those customized settings, the hub dispatches commands to the appropriate devices, essentially “automating” everything from lighting to locks to music and more. The hub can also respond to triggers from other connected smart devices. For example, when it receives a signal form a motion sensor, it can respond by switching on the security camera, turning on a light and sending a text message to someone’s smartphone.  

How do smart hubs work?
Smart home devices are built to connect to a hub through wireless communication protocols (e.g., Wi-Fi, Bluetooth LE, Zigbee, Z-Wave), each with certain advantages and disadvantages. A smart hub can work with one type of protocol or several. Typically, the more communication “languages” a hub can speak, the more versatile (and expensive) it becomes. However, the benefits usually outweigh the price because users can mix and match devices from various manufacturers.  

Why are smart hubs important?
By tying all of the individual products to a central controller, people can automate processes so they work together, which makes life simpler. For example, unlocking the door signals the lights to turn on and the thermostat to adjust. The hub manages operation of all smart devices on its own—so there’s no need for users to be tied to their smartphones or tablets to do the work.  

What should you look for in a smart hub?
The lineup of smart home hubs is expanding at a dizzying pace, as every major tech giant seeks to outdo the competition. Everyone from Apple to Google to Samsung is racing to find the perfect combination of functionality, size and affordability, which explains why the category is growing so rapidly.  

The good news for consumers: The wide variety of solutions provides lots of flexibility to pick the right hub for their needs. Some hubs focus on entertainment features. Others prioritize safety and security. Others aim for an affordable price point or compact size. To compare a few of today’s popular options, check out this handy guide from PC Magazine.

Shop the full offering of smart hubs at Ingram Micro
When your customers are ready to invest in a smart home hub, you’ll find a wide selection at Ingram Micro, your smart source for all things smart home.

 To learn more, contact your Ingram Micro sales representative.