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What is a Smart Hub?

A smart hub is the central hub that connects all smart devices within a home….

A smart hub is the central hub that connects all smart devices within a home. It’s usually accessible through a centralized app control connected devices. But what more do you need to know about smart hubs? And how do you choose the right one?

Smart lights, pet bowls, smart speakers, and motion sensors — everything seems to be joining the digital revolution. Analysts estimate that by 2022, 63 million American homes will meet the definition of a “smart home”: a modern dwelling equipped with remotely controlled wi fi devices and/or appliances.  

This digital utopia is no longer a passing trend: by now, you’ve probably enjoyed visiting a friend whose dining room lights dimmed just as the host served dinner, or felt amused by a refrigerator that automatically submitted a reorder for a pantry staple. 

Most likely, the residents of your multifamily building have experienced these “Wow!” moments as well. Perhaps they’ve even approached you, asking how they can upgrade their units with these thrilling features

With the fascinating array of available gadgets and smart devices, perhaps you’re left scratching your head with the question: “how do you even control all of these things?” The answer is by using a smart hub.

So, what is a smart hub? 

A smart hub (sometimes called a home automation hub) is the mission control center – the brain, if you will – of a smart home or smart apartment. It’s the portal that ties together every lamp, light bulb, smart lock, doorbell, and playlist within a home network. 

Instead of walking around flipping light switches and toggling thermostat settings, a smart hub “digitizes” the manual steps involved in operating these devices. Using a smart hub, a resident can schedule, command, and control everything from one central (usually touchscreen) interface. 

A smart hub is also where the fun starts: you can design creative chains of automated tasks to suit your habits and personality. It’s where Jetsons–level creativity can really thrive. 

To prepare for your dog walker to arrive at 2:00pm, the foyer smart lights can illuminate and the front door can unlock, or access credentials can be granted. Group smart devices into nuanced experiences or “scenes” like “Saturday date night” to dim living room lights and kick off a romantic Motown playlist. 

By using a smart hub, you’re in complete command of your digital utopia and in-home experience. They can also connect to voice control devices, like Amazon Echo or Google Home.

A smart hub makes it easy to shop between vendors…

With the captivating assortment of smart devices on the market, you never want to feel locked into a single vendor’s offering. Try loading an Android app onto an iPhone, or playing an Xbox Series X game on a PlayStation5. 

Just as these brands create their own ecosystem of compatibility, many smart home manufacturers do the same thing. 

Luckily, many popular vendors come together to create a collective of supported brands, similar to an airline alliance. Using a smart hub, you can burst open the standard catalogs, effectively allowing you to shop for a thermostat from one provider and a light system from another. 

By using a smart hub, you never have to settle for one vendor: you can ensure you always have access to the “best of the best” in each category.

…and communicate between different smart home languages

Invisible code whizzes through the air sending commands and instructions between smart devices. There are four popular dialects of smart home-speak, known as “protocols”: Z-Wave, Zigbee, WiFi, and Bluetooth. 

Unfortunately, devices are not the greatest communicators with each other: one that speaks Zigbee does not understand commands given in Z-Wave. So knowing the difference between Zigbee and Z Wave is critical.

Without a smart hub, you’re typically subjected to one dialect. Smart hubs solve this compatibility problem by serving as a virtual United Nations, breaking down language barriers to support multiple protocols and allow different devices to work together in harmony. 

What to look for when shopping for a smart hub

The hub is the beating heart of your smart home experience. It transforms what sounds like an inherently complicated orchestration of intelligent devices into one effortless production. 

However, there are still a few considerations to keep in mind when selecting the best smart hub for your multifamily building. 

  • Number of supported devices: How many devices will it take to create your tenants’ dream smart home? What other devices might you want to add in the future? Some smart hubs have a strict device limit, so pay close attention to how many slots you think you’ll want to fill. Future-proof your investment by selecting a hub with unlimited device support so you can always keep your community on the cutting edge of smart home tech. 
  • App compatibility: Many smart hubs include a supplemental mobile app so tenants can control the likes of temperature and music from the comfort of their couch. While most hubs serve up both Apple and Android compatibility, double-check that your hub of choice doesn’t lock out either crowd of smartphone fans. 
  • How it’s controlled: Most smart home hubs involve an intuitive app or other interface offering up streamlined control features. From voice commands to facial recognition, the future is brimming with novel ways to interact with machines. There are many hubs starting to integrate these next-gen command styles. For instance, you can speak with a hub to raise or lower temperature with their voice, or trigger a series of coordinated tasks simply by smiling at the hub when you return home. Consider your unique demographic of tenants and which approach they’re most likely to enjoy. 

As the owner or manager of a multifamily community, you never have to go it alone. Use a smart apartment service provider to your advantage. The right one can help you select the best hub for your tenants, and work with you on an installation and rollout plan. 

By working with a knowledgeable smart apartment service provider, you can protect your investment and ensure your smart home system stands the test of time for years to come.

A hub is at the core of smooth smart apartment operations. Without one, residents have to juggle multiple apps and switches independent of one another. 

Using a smart hub, you put them in the command seat, bestowing the degree of convenience they expect from home automation. 

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