What the Heck is a Smart Home?

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No doubt you’ve seen the term ‘smart home’ being bandied about, bit exactly what does it mean?

That’s the topic the editor-in-chief at Good Times chose as the subject of my first-ever tech column. (That sound you hear is everyone who knows me laughing hysterically, since while I literally couldn’t do my job without technology, I’ve been known to struggle with just mastering a new app on my smartphone.) That’s the beauty of freelance writing — every new story or assignment is an opportunity to learn something new.

From sockets and light-bulbs you can turn on and off with your smartphone, to cameras that allow you to keep tabs on your home while you’re half a world away, the variety of connected household devices available today seem like they might have been plucked out of The Jetsons

Mind you, while many of these devices can enhance our lives, they could potentially pose a threat to the security of your personal information, and possibly even allow bad actors to seize control of security cameras, and door locks. By taking a few sensible precautions, however, you can close most possible security gaps, so be sure to read the sidebar with tips on how to do so. For more, read my debut technology column in Good Times March issue: What the Heck is a Smart Home?

In the process of finding sources, and researching the story, I found out about a fascinating series of projects taking place right here in London, Ont. Researchers are harnessing the power of some of the same digital technology you’d find in a smart home to help empower people with various health conditions. Here’s hoping I have an opportunity to write a whole story about their work in the future.

Thank-you to the interviewees who were so generous with their time and expertise: Dr. Cheryl Forchuk, the Beryl and Richard Ivey Research Chair in Aging, Mental Health Rehabilitation and Recovery, with the Mental Health Nursing Alliance at the Lawson Health Research Institute and Parkwood Institute Research in London, Ont.; Karthik Pattabiraman, associate professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Faculty of Applied Sciences at UBC; and Gavin Taylor, technology consultant with the Information Services Department at London Health Sciences Centre and St. Joseph’s Healthcare London (Ont.).

Photo by Lisa Fotios courtesy of Pexels