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Using Smart Tech to Secure your Home
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Using Smart Tech to Secure your Home

When people hear the phrase smart-home they hardly think of their own homes. Their minds go to what they have seen on some TV show. Usually it involves some full blown Sci-Fi contraption of a house that has an AI voice controlling everything with the whole affair eventually going wrong as the house turns on it’s honour.

The truth is much more mundane and grounded. There are some real benefits to turn your house into a smart home. Yes, your Zimbabwean home can be turned into a smart home too. This is not just something people in developed countries can do.

The other thing people dread when it comes to smart homes is the financial burden. Smart technology sounds expensive. It’s both true and false. Going full smart-home the kind you see on TV will cost you a pretty penny. However you can make your home partially smart for far less than it cost you to buy one of your fancy aluminium windows.

Some ways to turn your house smart on the cheap

While some think of smart technology as useless there are some smart home devices that are both affordable and quite useful to the average home-owner. Turning your home smart on the cheap usually involves you buying the following components:

  • A smarthub - this is the brains of the operation. Sophisticated hubs on TV that include that creepy AI voice sell for thousands of dollars but thanks to Chinese genius we have a number of startups such as YZIA selling smarthubs for very affordable prices with the average asking price being US$50.
  • Sensors - these are the components that detect certain changes in the environment and sends an alert to the hub which then responds accordingly depending on your configurations. Some sensors can also receive information and commands from the smarthub. Sensors tend to be cheap, costing less than $10 each and often $5 and below depending on the type of sensors involved.
  • You also need an input/output device. You can optionally buy a smartspeaker but your phone and tablet is more than adequate. You can use the input device to control and configure the system. The hub and your phone can also act as output devices to output whatever information your system wants to show.

Now that we have laid out the basics of a smarthome system we are going to look at some example configurations that the average Zimbabwean home will find useful.

  • Window sensors to detect when a window is open. Having been the victim of a burglar on a number of occasions myself I know how much an open window at night can cost you. Crime is high as we are going through a lockdown which has seen most people lose their income and living without safety nets. If a burglar attempts to open a window your cheap little US$5 sensor might trigger the home system to sound an alarm waking you and saving you thousands.
  • Door sensors can also be quite useful in the same way as window sensors.
  • Buying motion sensors that can distinguish between an ordinary cat and your cat burglar can also save you money.
  • Automatic curtain openers and closers-smarthomes go beyond security and into automating mundane tasks. Automatic curtain controllers can be trained to open curtains automatically and on schedule.
  • Smartswitches - traditional timing and darkness sensing switches are nothing new but smart switches go beyond just light. You can turn your porch light in Harare on and off while you are in Bulawayo playing Golf.
  • Smoke detectors can help you detect a fire/carbon monoxide early and allow you to use the fire extinguisher while there is still time. Zimbabwe’s fire brigade is not the most reliable and you want all the headstart you can get.

These are but a few practical aspects of smart home tech that even luddite Zimbabweans can appreciate. So you see turning your home smart doesn’t mean going all Sci-Fi.