In the pursuit of a better quality of life, an increasing number of homeowners nowadays are considering turning their homes into smart homes. However, creating a smart home calls for smart decisions, and not everybody knows what to do or what to look out for. German Cheung, director of smart home solutions provider Elevant-Garde, has some useful tips to offer. To begin, he wants to reassure that smart home systems in fact don’t require a huge bandwidth on your home internet, and with the advancement in modern internet technology and the ubiquity of a WiFi network, most Hong Kong homes can easily be transformed into smart homes.

“Unlike streaming services, which usually require huge bandwidths, smart home systems can function perfectly with an internet speed similar to what WhatsApp messaging needs,” Cheung explains. “A broadband speed of 3 to 6MB is sufficient”, adding that most Hong Kong families can turn their household into a smart home very quickly.

Smart home systems currently used in Hong Kong can be roughly divided into four major categories. Apart from the common lighting and curtain systems, smart air conditioning, which provides real time air quality monitoring and control, has been gaining popularity in recent years. In addition, smart audio-visual systems is a big trend in smart home technology. “Here’s the most basic example: If you add a Blu-ray player or a set-top box to your TV set, you’ll be able to control these devices with your smart home apps, such as changing channels,” Cheung says.

To create a smart home theatre, you might consider adding a 5.1 or 7.1 surround sound system and a large screen or projection screen to your home. A smart AV system can offer a wide range of modes to maximise your movie or music experience. “Typically, the user would need multiple remote controls to operate a home theatre like this. While the husbands of the house might be more comfortable with working with technology, it can get complicated for other family members,” Cheung explains. “A smart system is able to streamline the process and make it easy and intuitive for everyone to control the devices.”

Not only can smart home systems be remotely controlled via smartphone apps, they can also be operated by voice command. Among the three major voice control systems, Google Home and Apple’s Siri are more widely used, with Google Home being the most popular in the market due to the fact that Siri is only compatible with Apple products. The downside of Google Home is that currently the voice assistant is not available in Cantonese,

however, Cheung believes that it’ll soon become one of its supported languages, making it even more accessible to people in Hong Kong.

Reduce Costs by Integrating Existing Appliances

While smart home solutions are gaining increasing popularity, many users are faced with a sizable challenge: Right now, there isn’t a single smart system available in the market that can truly integrate all devices and appliances (especially older ones) in a household. And if you choose to go with a more advanced and costly smart home system, you will probably need to phase out some existing appliances and purchase new, compatible ones, driving up the overall costs. Cheung says that for homeowners who wish to install a smart home system with a smaller budget or to keep their existing appliances, DIY is an option, but cautions that it requires a certain level of technical know-how so not everyone will be able to build and manage it.