I suppose it all started years ago, with the tea-maker that could be set to turn itself on and make your morning tea automatically. Then came the bigger items – the dishwasher or washing machine that can be programmed to start when you are out or asleep, or the heating that can be turned on automatically (if you are lucky enough to have it in Portugal!). Nowadays, there are so many things around the home that can be set automatically, many controlled from your smartphone or tablet.

Ultimate smart home

At the ultimate smart home, you could be met with technology before you even step through the front door, programming your garage door to lock itself at a certain time, turn on security lights, even set them to different times for the pathway, spotlights, steps, etc.

Video doorbells at your door will let you know when the delivery man arrives – you can talk to him from your smartphone, or keep watch over who might be casing the place while you are out. Some even have night vision and security cameras to capture motion-triggered videos or turn floodlights on to whatever is moving around outside.

Another piece of technology for your front door is a smart lock, making keys so 20th century! This lets you control access to your home with your phone, offering both security and flexibility, letting you come and go as you please, and monitoring who is entering and leaving your home while you're away.

Inside the home

There’s a power strip and surge protector which will control all the plugs in your home, even when you're not there. You can sync lights, devices, and more to a timer or manually turn them on or off from your smartphone. And if you like the idea of the robot vacuum, you can even get one now that does mopping as well! Both will clean your floors when you're not around (I particularly like this idea!).

There is an air purifier and fan which can be controlled by your phone to help cleanse the air of pollutants and allergens and cool your room as well. Even air-con units are available that can be controlled from your smartphone - how cool is that? And who will be more excited about a dog camera - you or your pet! You can monitor them through your phone, and send them treats when you're away.

These days, there's a smart version of so many home devices, and in general these products connect to the internet, so you can control them from your phone via a companion app, some even with voice control.

But dangers lurk in your phone too, as there are unscrupulous people out there just waiting to scrape out all your personal information if you aren’t diligent about passwords and security. The more you have on your smart device, the more vulnerable you become. They could mess with the controls you have set, or hack into your personal information. And with more people working from home, computers and tablets may contain extremely sensitive information and become even more vulnerable for hackers.


Marilyn writes regularly for The Portugal News, and has lived in the Algarve for some years. A dog-lover, she has lived in Ireland, UK, Bermuda and the Isle of Man. 

Marilyn Sheridan