Downsides to Having a Smart Home

Here on MakeTechEasier we’ve covered the concept of a smart home before. That was in 2014. Now it’s 2016, and we’re coming closer than ever to the ideal of a smart home. In fact it’s already happening with the release of the Amazon Echo and the announcement of Google Home!

Unfortunately, this is where we have to start talking about the concerns raised by this sort of technology. Knowing my track record you can probably see where this is going.

smart home concerns - smartphones

With the introduction of smartphones, the category of smart devices was born. Smart devices are usually used to refer to tablets and smartphones, but in this context, I’ll redefine them as small, wireless devices capable of wireless communication and advanced processing. That’s the idea of a smart home: with enough smart devices linked together, you can have the digital home of the future.

Smart devices for the home have been coming out for some time now. They can do things like perform surveillance or monitor your home for leaks or high humidity. But where you’re putting all of this power into digital devices, you’re putting just as much trust into the security of those devices.

Unfortunately, digital security is constantly evolving. Release a piece of software and someone is inevitably going to find a way to breach it. This has happened with a smart home security system before and can even happen to things like your car or your heart.

smart home concerns - echo

At the time of writing this article, the Amazon Echo is a whopping $180 USD alone. This is simply a hub station that can take voice commands or play music. Add the cost of things like the Nest thermostat and other controls, and suddenly you’re looking at spending thousands of dollars for what’s supposedly “convenience”.

When you really think about it, smart home devices aren’t really doing anything you can’t already do on your own. You can get your phone or computer to take voice commands and play music already. You can obviously control a thermostat or turn on your lights. While it’s cool to be able to do everything with voice commands and gestures, sometimes you have to ask yourself if the money (and time spent earning that money) is worth what little work and time you’re saving yourself by buying products like these.

For the price of an Amazon Echo you could feed yourself for two months.

smart home concerns - surveillance

It wouldn’t be one of my articles if I didn’t talk about how virtually all of your digital information could potentially be accessed by government agencies or malicious parties.

The smart home example is quite blatant, though, especially using Amazon Echo or Google Home, since you’re allowing companies that are already giants of collecting personal information to collect even more than they already had. Once they have this information, there’s nothing stopping the government from stepping in and taking it from you or someone breaking it and taking it for themselves.

Past a certain point, I’m just tinfoiling. Digital security is solid when the users are doing what they should to stay secure, and I do believe technology like this is the future.

That being said, it’s important to educate yourself on how all of it works, what information is being collected and stored, and how you can add extra security to the process. I look forward to being able to walk around my house, talk to my house, and see things change right before my eyes, like how Jarvis interacted with Ironman in the movie.

What about you?

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