Smart Home Hub is a term which has become increasingly popular these days. Most of the Smart Devices in the market actually have descriptions that say ‘Compatible to use with a Smart Home Hub’ or the one that says ‘Can be paired with other Smart Home Devices with the help of Smart Home Hubs’.
But the real question now is ‘What actually is a Smart Home Hub ?’ and What is its significance when it comes to a Smart Home. The Smart Hub is more of a concept than just a device. A Smart Home Hub is a device that which acts as the sole communicator between different smart devices in a home. The primary functions of a Smart Home Hub are to Initiate, Control, Facilitate and Synchronize the communication between different Smart Devices in a home.
The significance of Smart Home Hubs is outlined by the fact that different Smart Devices uses different technologies or protocols to communicate. Just like how we human beings find it difficult to understand and comprehend different languages, Smart Devices also cannot directly communicate with devices that use a different protocol for communication. For eg – A Siren which uses Wifi as the primary communication methodology cannot directly communicate with a Smart Light that uses Zig-Bee or Bluetooth as its only communication protocol. Hence the Smart Home Hubs acts as a mediator between Smart Home Devices that use different protocols for communication. It takes inputs from different Smart Devices, translates these signals and feeds into each of the required devices.
The Communication Protocols for each Smart Devices has been configured keeping in mind their versatility and performance. Hence it is an unavoidable fact that to achieve good performance and quality, different Smart Devices have different communication protocols configured.
The Smart Home Hub is of great use from a user perspective as well. With the help of a Smart Home Hub, you can configure different Smart Devices to work in Unison. Though each Smart Home Device works really well on its own, by a dedicated control for each of them, you do not always want that. Also controlling each Smart Device separately via your smartphone can be a daunting task.
To cite an example, you can connect Smart Water Sensors to WiFi Sirens and Wireless Cameras through Smart Home Hubs. Thus, in case of a water leakage scenario, the siren fires, and the whole home is made aware of the leak. At the same time, you can monitor the leaking area remotely via the Wireless WiFi Camera from your smartphone. This is just one example of where you can connect and monitor different Smart Device Functionalities at the same time. With the help of these Home Hubs, the possibilities of how you want to collate different Smart Home functionalities together is entirely up to you. Another typical example of a combined command that can be used in a bedroom or living room is depicted in the above flowchart.
To some extent, the Amazon Alexa and the Google Home can take up the functions of a Smart Home Hub since these two are capable of controlling and regulating the functionalities of many Smart Devices since many of the currently available Smart Devices comes configured for the Alexa and Google Home. But again, they are not capable of accommodating and translating for all the communication protocols.
Again, it mostly comes down to the user whether you actually require a Smart Home Hub or not. If you wish to set up a Fully Automated Home, chances are that you will have to pick the best Smart Devices from each category, some of which may employ different communication protocols. In such a case, for a seamless user experience, you might require a Dedicated Smart Home Hub.
If you considering buying a Smart Home Hub, The Samsung SmartThings V3 is a good pick since it can accommodate Z-Wave, ZigBee, WiFi, Bluetooth, IFTTT, Google Home, Amazon Alexa, Harlo, Phillips Hue, Schlage, Ring, Kwikset, and Ecobee.
Images – Samsung