How to transform your home into a smart home

The advent of the Internet of Things (IoT) – a network of connected digital devices – and artificial intelligence (AI) has revolutionised the way we manage and secure our homes. In GIO's Man in the Know series, futurist Dr Richard Hames predicts that Aussie homes will soon have around 800 smart devices forming a connectivity hub which can accurately anticipate your family's needs – from automated shopping lists to energy-efficient smart insulation.

And thanks to smartphones and smart assistants, Aussie homeowners and renters can now easily enhance and manage their home's safety and efficiency with just an app or even voice commands.

Choosing between smart home assistants

Before going on a smart device shopping spree, consider which ecosystem – the brand of connected technologies – might suit your preferences. Common ones include Google Home, Apple HomeKit and Amazon Alexa, or you can choose from a mix of devices from different providers.

However, sticking to one brand may improve the connection and performance between the various devices around your home. Research each option thoroughly before deciding.

How to create a smart home security system

Whether you opt for a DIY setup of smart locks or a professional installation of a monitored security system will depend on your budget and the nature of your property and contents.

Smart cameras

Smart cameras are a simple and effective security option and offer many benefits over traditional security cameras such as:

  • giving you the convenience to remotely monitor your home through your phone, and
  • alerting you to any disturbances in real-time, even if you're not at home.

Some models even come with two-way audio systems so you can communicate via your phone to someone approaching your home.

If you have pets or live near a main road, make sure you choose a camera system that allows you to adjust for changes in light patterns. Shifts in light, made by shadows, can set off alarms that aren't calibrated for this.

With GIO Platinum Home and Contents insurance, if you have a monitored home alarm and it’s activated by an illegal break in or attempted break in, we'll cover the security attendance fees charged by your security provider, up to $2,500.

You also won’t need to pay an excess under this additional cover. Be sure to read the PDS for conditions and exclusions.

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Video doorbells

Video doorbells provide a convenient way to engage with visitors to your home, no matter where you are. They connect to your phone via dedicated apps, send instant notifications if motion is detected and even allow you to communicate with a visitor when they ring the bell.

Smart temperature and humidity alarms

Smart thermometers and hygrometers can optimise the air quality in your home, helping you avoid mould caused by excessive humidity or dry skin from low humidity. Most smart temperature and humidity alarms connect to Wi-Fi, enabling you to check your home's air quality from anywhere via a dedicated app. You can also find models that pair with smart humidifiers and air conditioners.

Automated lights and appliances

Switching your regular light bulbs to smart ones allow you to control the lights around your home with an app or voice control. Some smart bulbs may be more expensive, but they tend to have lower energy consumption and last longer than traditional bulbs, making them a more cost-effective and environmentally friendly option in the long run.

You can also connect other smart devices to your smart ecosystem such as:

  • fans
  • coffee machines
  • fridges
  • ovens and air fryers, and
  • smart TVs.

How to protect your privacy

Smart devices can make our homes more convenient and efficient, but they may also come with additional cybersecurity risks. Unsecured home Wi-Fi networks can become targets for hackers, who may exploit them to gain unauthorised access to your personal data and financial information via the connected devices in your smart home ecosystem.

Following these tips will help to protect your smart home and your privacy:

  • Set a strong Wi-Fi password that is at least 16 characters long and includes numbers and special characters.
  • Install antivirus software on your home network and all connected devices.
  • Use two-factor authentication whenever possible.
  • Research the security features of any smart device before purchasing.

The future of smart homes

Smart homes look to become even more convenient and efficient in the future, with more sophisticated AI technologies currently being developed. In the not-so-distant future homes may become completely self-sufficient – from 'smart gardens' that monitor and adjust their own soil conditions to a fully automated kitchen that can prepare your meals according to your dietary needs and preferences.

And as homes evolve, it's a good idea to keep your home insurance up to date. This will help you to ensure you have appropriate cover for any smart devices you purchase, as well as for your building and contents in case of unexpected weather events, fire or theft.

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Insurance issued by AAI Limited ABN 48 005 297 807 trading as GIO. Please read the Product Disclosure Statement before buying this insurance. The Target Market Determination is also available.

Consider the The information is intended to be of general nature only. Subject to any rights you may have under any law (including the Australian Consumer Law), we do not accept any legal responsibility for any loss or damage, including loss of business or profits or any other indirect loss, incurred as a result of reliance upon the information. Please make your own enquiries.