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Create a new smart home, rescue home automation systems or get support to ensure smart home systems deliver the best experience.
+44 (0) 20 7193
March 20, 2024

What is Smart Home Technology?

We talk an awful lot about smart homes, home automation and smart technology here at Baker Stone. We ought to, we’re smart home integrators and managers, so it’s kind of our specialist subject. There’s no point chattering about it if our audience doesn’t know what we mean though. So, it’s about time to nail down exactly what a smart home is, as well as clarify a few other important terms we use a lot.


Originally, SMART was an acronym, meaning Self-Monitoring Analysis and Reporting Technology


The meaning of 'smart home'

Apologies. We’re going to have to start this one by stating the obvious.

A smart home is a home whose residents benefit from having a lot of smart technology at their service. So let’s start by defining that:

What is smart home technology?

Smart technology refers to devices that can connect to each other and to processors in a network. This allows them to report functional data for analysis and work together in new and innovative ways. This communicative ability functions together with widespread automation and adaptive functionality to allow products to learn to suit the needs of their users and their environment. Furthermore, the network allows remote control and accessibility from anywhere, as well as connection to central computer control systems which improves the ability of the devices to function as a single, networked unit, exchanging data and commands for mutual analysis, modification and inter-functionality.

Smart technology and S.M.A.R.T. Technology, a history

The term ‘smart technology’ was originally an acronym for ‘Self-Monitoring Analysis and Reporting Technology’. It was used by the company of the same name, founded in 1989, to refer to the intelligent devices it produced. People familiar with modern smart devices would recognise many of these devices, such as the SMART board, which functioned as a touch-sensitive computer screen, allowing users to interact with objects on it. However, the acronym is now less familiar, and smart is currently more often used to describe any kind of technology that uses network connectivity, data analysis and processing to improve its functionality in synchronicity with other similar objects.

The big error everyone makes when defining smart technology

Smart technology is often erroneously defined as technology that uses wireless protocols in particular. For example, Wikipedia* defines a smart device as one which is  “generally connected to other devices or networks via different wireless protocols”. However, smart technology is not necessarily wireless, and is as likely to use wires as more traditional networked devices such as computers and mobiles.

In fact, some of the most popular large-scale smart home systems and devices, such as home cinemas and smart security systems, rely heavily on wired connectivity to function. This being said, the terms ‘smart home technology’ and ‘smart device’ first came into widespread use around the same time as wireless fidelity (Wi-Fi) did, so the confusion of terms is unsurprising.

Smart home systems and devices

Functionally, a smart home consists of the sum total of devices that serve one household and/or family. This includes the individual devices and systems that carry out various functions in the house; the central system that manages them; the inputs and controllers that allow for human control; and the network that connects everything together.

For example, some  of the most common smart home devices and systems include:

  • Smart heating systems and thermostats, as well as ventilation and AC (HVAC)
  • Smart lighting systems and controls.
  • In-home cinemas and media rooms.
  • Amazon Echo Dots, Google Nests and Apple HomePods.
  • Smart security services.
  • Curtain, blind and window automation.

This is just a short list and there are many more smart devices and systems, from automated coffee machines to smart sprinkler systems.

Home cinema

The difference between home automation and smart home technology

‘Smart home technology’ and ‘home automation technology’ – We use both of these phrases a lot and, while they are distinct, they overlap a great deal, especially in casual usage. Most smart homes contain both, but they are nevertheless different.

We’ll start with home automation technology as it’s the easiest to describe. This is technology that makes tasks we humans previously had to do, automatic. In other words, it automates our homes.

Smart home technology is networked technology that works with other devices as well as internal or external processing systems to self-analyse, manage our homes and make our lives easier. The two definitions and functions overlap so much because the systems complement each other brilliantly in the modern smart home. Home automation technologies stop us having to worry about tasks and chores we once had to do while smart home technologies stop us having to worry about decisions and considerations such as ‘When should I set the heating to go on’. Functionally, smart home technology also helps to automate a lot of tasks through connectivity. This is where a lot of the overlap in the Venn diagram lies.

The Internet of Things (IoT)

The Internet of Things (IoT) is closely linked to modern smart homes, underpinning how many of them work. Now that many of the objects in your house are connected to a central network, they can be, and almost always are, connected to the internet as a whole. As we know, the Internet is the master network of all networks, servers, computers and devices that are connected together. Meanwhile, the Internet of Things (IoT) refers more specifically to all the everyday objects that are connected together via the internet. This includes smart home objects, commercial and industrial devices and outdoor technologies, from smart sprinkler systems to self-driving vehicles.

Objects that are more traditionally networked and connected to the Internet, such as computers, servers, mobiles and office equipment are specifically not part of the Internet of Things. In fact, the IoT is as much defined by what it is not, as what it is - The things involved being things that are not traditionally connected to the internet, from kettles and toasters to smart diggers and networked ticket systems at train stations.

 Of course, the Internet of Things is part of the internet as a whole, although  most of the ‘things’ cannot be accessed by the public.

Summary – What is smart home technology?

When the first modern smart device was invented way back in 1989 by SMART Ltd., SMART was an acronym for Self-Monitoring Analysis and Reporting Technology. But by the time smart home technology became widely available, smart technology referred to any device or system that used communication, networking, mutual data analysis and processing to make formerly challenging tasks simpler. Modern smart home technology is here to make our home lives easier and more luxurious. If that sounds like something you could get on board with, take a look at our design and installation services page.