Domotics: an ELI5 overview

The increasingly popular technology that lets you computerise your home has a fancy name: domotics. Also known as smart home or home automation, this technology is all about boosting your living space with clever technology.

But what makes a home smart, where does the name ‘domotics’ come from, and why is it useful? Here, we take a closer look at smart home technology.

Domotics, a.k.a home automation

The term domotics has two possible (but very similar) origins. The first is that it’s a mix of the Latin word ‘domus’ which means home, and ‘robotics’ or electronics. The second suggests that it’s instead a short way to say ‘domestic robotics’.

Regardless of origin, of course, the meaning of the term remains the same: home automation. This means the home has technology to help manage, maintain, and enjoy your living space.

With a smart home, your lights, heating, and appliances are subject to automation and remote control. This means that you can set your lights or heating to turn off or on by themselves. You could set your lights to start to dim before bedtime, to help you feel sleepy when it’s time to turn in, for instance. Or you can set your appliances to run automatically at key times.

Domotics can also contribute to your home security practices. For instance, smart doorbells, automatic door locking at bedtime, and alarm system management.

Why are domotics growing?

The benefits of home automation fall under three core categories. These are comfort, efficiency, and security. Below are a few examples of how domotics bring value to the home.

•      Comfort and convenience

Home automation can eat up your chores. For instance, instead of vacuuming yourself, you can set your smart vacuum to do it for you. You don’t need to remember to set off the washing machine when the dryer is half-finished with the last load — it can do it itself.

Domotics also means having remote control of the tech in your house. You can turn the lights off or on without going to the switch. You can set your coffee machine to brew while you stay in bed that extra five minutes. The possibilities continue.

•       Efficiency

Beyond comfort, domotics also boost the efficiency of your home.

A smart home can help you keep track of your electricity, heating and water use, for example. When your home can automatically turn off lights and heating, you reduce energy waste. This translates to saved money and a more environmentally friendly home.

•       Security

Then, there are the security impact of domotics.

Home automation can include security tech like alarm systems and smart doorbells, for example. So, if you forgot to set the alarm this morning, you can do it from your work desk. If someone triggers your alarm, you can get an automated alert.

Or, as another example, your home could manage your lighting to look like you’re home while you’re on holiday. Instead of worrying that you left the iron on, you can relax knowing your smart house turned it off.

Then, there are the safety features that help protect homes and families. For instance, water leak sensors and smoke/carbon monoxide detectors. So, you’re alerted to problems before they cause irreversible damage.

The concerns around domotics

But, as with any technology, there are also drawbacks to consider.

The first concern is the potential vulnerability to hackers and technical faults. What happens if your front door malfunctions and you’re trapped, or a malicious user disables your burglar alarms? This concern is one (partly) answered by increased awareness of cybersecurity — and good practices to back it up. Installing regular updates is extremely important to security, as is using strong passwords.

The second concern revolves around privacy and data protection. Using domotics creates data — data about when you’re in, what you do at home and how you use your appliances. That kind of data is valuable to all manner of third-party advertisers and cybercriminals. By inviting IoT into your home, you also invite new layers of surveillance and data mining – harmless or not.

Thirdly comes the issues of integration and costs. Different home tech tools might not always play nicely with each other. This could mean tricky management of many control features. Or commitment to just one or two brands that do work together.

Domestic robotics

Imagine a world where time-consuming home maintenance doesn’t exist. Your home manages itself, and you have control no matter where you are. Your chores are shared with automation, and your time goes to relaxing, hobbies, and being with family.

Ultimately, domotics is all about saving money, time, and energy while boosting the quality of home life.

Useful links

Deep work and automation

Should we leave automation to the workplace?

The importance of system integration: does your software play well with others?