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Smart Connected Homes
Smart home technology involves used of Internet connected and integrated systems, devices, appliances, networks, and perhaps necessary infrastructure. The purpose of this review is to discuss the market feasibility, benefits and challenges associated with smart homes. The global market of smart home technology keeps growing over time. If prospective users are made aware of the technology as well as potential benefits, risks, and challenges, it may help improve their perception about the technology. It may result in further expansion of the market. Smart home technology is associated with various benefits such as improved monitoring and control of energy consumption, improvement of quality of life through effortless living, and provision of essential care services as well as assistance services via the technology. Key challenges experienced by users of smart home technology include confidentiality, security, and privacy issues. Smart home technology and associated devices are not free of weaknesses and vulnerabilities leading to various security and privacy threats. It includes access to devices, data, and security system of the home. Unauthorized access can lead to stolen personal information including banking records, physical entry into the house, damage to devices, and privacy breach. Privacy breach may include real-time monitoring of the home resident’s behavior and activities. Other challenges include high-cost of installations and perhaps increased consumption of energy, location tracking, and sociotechnical concerns. Some of the sociotechnical concerns include increased dependence on technology and promotion of inactive lifestyles.
Table of Contents
Smart Connected Homes
A connected home is a net-work enabled with interoperability and interconnection of multiple services, devices and apps, ranging from entertainment and communications to home automation and security. These apps and services are delivered over multiple integrated and interlinked sensors, devices, platforms, and tools. Real-time, smart, connected, and contextual experiences are provided for the inhabitants of the households and individuals can monitor and control the homes within and remotely (Gartber Glossary, 2020). Smart homes may include use of advanced technologies and home automation technology (Kim, Cho, & Jun, 2020). Smart home technology enables enhanced control and monitoring functionality in homes (Wilson, Hargreaves, & Hauxwell-Baldwin, 2017). Many smart home environments are using Internet of Things (IoT) technology to improve energy, comfort, and efficiency (Johnson & Davison, 2015). The aim of this study is to examine the market, benefits and challenges posed by smart homes. The purpose is to inform home owners on the potential benefits and challenges of having connected devices at home or of establishing a smart home.
- Is the use of smart home technology a welcomed idea?
- What are the benefits that can be derived from using smart home technology?
- What are the challenges associated with the use of smart home technology?
- Smart home technology is a welcomed idea in many homes and the market keep on expanding.
- There are multiple benefits that can be derived from the use of smart home technology.
- Cyber security uncertainties are the major challenges associated with the use of smart home technology.
The study will evaluate acceptability of smart home technology among home owners and determine whether smart home market is going to grow in the near future or it will diminish in the foreseeable future. This perspective is important since it will inform stakeholders, entrepreneurs, and companies on whether they could invest or expand their investments in the smart home technology depending on the feasibility of the market and acceptability of the technology by the home owners/residents.
In addition, it is important to inform home owners and home residents and other interested parties on the potential benefits that could be realized with the use of smart home technology. The perspective of prospective users should be informed clear and realistic benefits as well as risks to inform their decision making on whether to install smart home systems or not (Wilson, Hargreaves, & Hauxwell-Baldwin, 2017). Adoption of the IoT at home brings about a tradeoff between control, convenience, privacy, and security. Security and privacy issues should be treated with exceptionally high level of flexibility and as matters of high priority during implementation and maintenance of smart home technology (Ali & Awad, 2018).
Prospective and current user ought to be aware of the potential challenges and risks associated with use of the smart home technology. Issues discussed in this paper include privacy issues, confidentiality, and safety of data collected by smart devices within a domestic environment. Home residents and users of smart home technology should be made aware of the cyber security concerns and potential risks that they may encounter or experience as they use smart home systems. Thus, the other scope of this paper is to discuss the challenges associated with smart home technology.
Smart home technology: is an integral or interconnected system that consists of monitors, sensors, appliances, interfaces, and devices that are networked together so as to facilitate localized or remote automation, control, and collection of data from a domestic environment (Wilson, Hargreaves, & Hauxwell-Baldwin, 2017).
Internet of Things: is an emerging paradigm that focuses on connection objects, devices, and things to the Internet, each other, and to the users (Ali & Awad, 2018).
Confidentiality: keeping data and information private, to ensure that authorized users, which may include machines and humans, can access the system or the data (Lin & Bergmann, 2016).
Authentication: Verification of the data or information presented by the claimed users such as username and password (Lin & Bergmann, 2016).
Access: allowing authorized users to use a system and to obtain, use, or gather data (Lin & Bergmann, 2016).
Review of literature was conducted to evaluate and discuss the state of knowledge related to use of the smart home technology. Key issues that were reviewed included the market, benefits and challenges associated with the technology. Various articles have been written that describes aspects of smart home technology such as the current market, potential benefits, risks, and/or challenges but does not discuss the three issues into a single paper. This review discusses the three issues into a single paper through review of literature. Articles were drawn from databases such as Google Scholar, Energy and Power Source, Computers and Applied Sciences Complete, and database of Applied Science and Technology. Search terms that were used include smart homes, smart home market, smart home technology AND associated risks, smart home technology AND benefits, and smart home AND challenges. Key findings were summarized in Table 1 below, which informed the discussion below.
Table 1: Summary of Findings
Witthayawiroj & Nilaphruek (2017).
Smart devices can be used for monitoring and controlling usage of electricity at home.
Amiribesheli, Benmansour, & Bouchachia (2015).
Aged people living with chronic conditions increases the demand for smart devices.
Smart homes can increase provide assistance services and increases quality of life for residents.
Wilson, Hargreaves, & Hauxwell-Baldwin (2017).
Market adoption of the smart home technology depends on the perspectives of prospective users on the potential benefits and risks of the technology.
Smart home technology provides home owners/residents with an opportunity to manage their energy consumption.
The global market for smart home technology is set to grow.
Basatneh, Najafi, & Armstrong (2018)
Smart home technology provides effective solutions for reducing diabetes foot ulcer-associated costs and for saving limbs.
Ali & Awad (2018).
Internet of things technology at home can improve the quality of life.
It poses new privacy and security challenges.
Recent estimates indicate that there were about 12.5 billion Internet-connected devices in the 2010.
Li et al. (2018).
Can enable power management
Installation costs are high.
Smart phone devices experience certain threats and privacy threats.
Lin, H., & Bergmann, N. W. (2016
Penetration of smart home technology continues to grow around the world.
There is a growing demand for smart devices and interconnected homes. Rapid increases of aged population, especially with chronic conditions such as dementia, have increased the demand for personal care and reliance on technology. Informal care in homes that relies on technology is considered as cost effective resolution compared to care received in hospitals (Amiribesheli, Benmansour, & Bouchachia, 2015). Smart home systems are increasingly on sale by professional installation companies as well as on the off-the-shelf arrangements. The global market for smart home technology and smart home appliances such as lighting systems, heating systems, fridges, tumble dryers, washing machines, ovens, dishwashers and others appliances was projected to have grown 650-fold from $40 million in 2012 to $26 billion in 2019. There is higher market for smart home technology (Wilson, Hargreaves, & Hauxwell-Baldwin, 2017). The number of Internet of Things has increased rapidly over the recent years. In 2010, there were about 12.4 billion Internet-connected devices. It was predicted that the number of Internet-connected or Internet-connected devices would increase to 50 billion enabled devices by the 2020 (Ali & Awad, 2018).
The market adoption of smart home technology depends on the perspective of potential users. Majority of potential consumers believe that smart home technology will have a positive impact on their lives and express a general interest in smart homes. It is important to note that regardless of positive public perception, the level of uptake of smart home technology remains low. Despite low level of adoption it has been noted that Internet-connected television sets dominates the smart home market (Wilson, Hargreaves, & Hauxwell-Baldwin, 2017). Internet of Things technology as gained significant level of traction in the recent years since it has been observed that people continuously increase tend to increase adoption of non-traditions devices that are Internet enable or connected to a network (Lin & Bergmann, 2016). Smart technology continues to be adopted in domestic appliances, factory machinery, and/or medical devices. It is important to note than penetration of smart home technology continues to increase with time around the world (Lin & Bergmann, 2016).
Smart devices at home can facilitate monitoring and controlling of electricity usage at home. Energy consumption particularly is one of the key most serious issues in households these days. The amount of electricity consumed at most homes is far more than necessarily. Overuse of electricity is due inconveniences such failure to switch-off devices or lights when not in use (Witthayawiroj & Nilaphruek, 2017). Many homes do not have tools for minoring electricity consumption. Smart devices or integrated devices provide an opportunity for monitoring power consumption and for turning devices either on or off remotely through utilization of the Internet services. Current sensors can accurate measure electricity and can be used for predicting future usage of power (Witthayawiroj & Nilaphruek, 2017). Smart home technology has been applied in saving energy and reducing electricity costs at in homes (Amiribesheli, Benmansour, & Bouchachia, 2015).
Individuals and communities are eager and motivated to manage their energy consumption due to the huge cost of energy. Smart home technology is considered as a strategic energy technology that can enable communities and individuals to monitor and control their energy usage. Smart homes are considered as the integral component of a future energy-efficient-system that can help alleviate supply constraints during peak load periods as well as help to reduce the overall demand of energy (Wilson, Hargreaves, & Hauxwell-Baldwin, 2017). Use of smart home systems can enhance energy management capabilities. Users can adopt the technology after learning about potential benefits with acceptable levels of risks (Wilson, Hargreaves, & Hauxwell-Baldwin, 2017).
Smart home technology has been cited as having enormous ability in optimization of management of energy consumption at home. The technology can led to energy savings up to 30% of the costs of energy without compromising on the comfort of the home residents (Hargreaves, Wilson, & Hauxwell-Baldwin, 2018). There is a developing trend of a specialized type of smart homes that can help household residents to reduce energy consumption through controlling and monitoring devices as well as for rescheduling machine operating time according to energy supply and demand (Darby, 2018). The smart home technology can facilitate interaction between the power grid enterprise and the user. Both the power grid enterprise and the users can obtain information on consumption of electricity. In addition, the user also set electricity consumption plan, receive electricity price, advocate for the family’s consciousness of energy saving, promote rational use of electricity, as well as champion environmental protection (Li et al., 2018). In addition, smart home system promote realization of the real-time meter readings, energy meter readings, security services of water meters as well as gas meters that provides more convenient condition for provision of high quality services. It can interact and monitor with home via mobile phones, telephones, and remote networks as well as help detect abnormal activities and promote timely processing of data (Li et al., 2018).
Smart devices can improve comfort and quality of life. Ambient assisted-living-technologies are designed to assist residents in undertaking their activities of daily living (Amiribesheli, Benmansour, & Bouchachia, 2015). Smart devices or systems used at home are designed to be easy to use, reliable, easy to override, and controllable (Wilson, Hargreaves, & Hauxwell-Baldwin, 2017). Smart home technology can significantly enhance convenience, domestic comfort, leisure, and security (Hargreaves, Wilson, & Hauxwell-Baldwin, 2018). In addition Li et al. (2018) state that smart home technology can enhance safety, comfort, interactivity, and convenience of home life and can optimize people’s life cycle.
A smart home system is often equipped with a range of inter-related or interconnected hardware components and software to monitor a resident’s living space and understand his/her behavior. The system can inform the resident about risky situations and may intervene on behalf of the resident to his/her satisfaction (Amiribesheli, Benmansour, & Bouchachia, 2015). Many individuals tend in need of care tend to prefer less intrusive care that can be delivered at home in an inexpensive manner. This kind of care can be provided by smart devices such as robots. Smart home technology is purposed to support individuals so as to improve the quality of life as well as support the elderly population, who may be living alone, to live independently and comfortably (Amiribesheli, Benmansour, & Bouchachia, 2015).
Smart home systems can monitor safety and security of a home, detect fire and smoke, detect falls, and can be used for management of lighting and light intensity. Other solutions that can be provided by smart devices include smart planners, calendars, video monitoring, reminders, and alarms (Amiribesheli, Benmansour, & Bouchachia, 2015). In addition, smart home technology allows residents to have localized or remote control of controllable devices and appliances such as hot water and heating systems, windows, lighting, fridges, garage doors, curtains, washing machines, and television sets (Wilson, Hargreaves, & Hauxwell-Baldwin, 2017). Controlled functionality is possible through use of a software that can run on computing devices such as laptops, tablets, smartphones, and personal computers (Wilson, Hargreaves, & Hauxwell-Baldwin, 2017). Smart phone technology provides householders with an effortless living and unprecedented levels of indulgence, luxury, and relaxation (Darby, 2018).
Health smart homes can provide appropriate or customized assistive services and help patients and the elderly achieve a sense of independence at home. Customized assistive services have been developed for those who are vulnerable to falls, dementia, and for those who need emergency services (Kim, Cho, & Jun, 2020). Internet of Things technology is considered as an essential requirement among home residents that can improve efficiency and convenience of services thus improving quality of life (Ali & Awad, 2018). Interconnected device networks are associated with different autonomous and intelligent services that offer economic and personal benefits to the society (Ali & Awad, 2018).
According to Amiribesheli, Benmansour, and Bouchachia (2015) caregivers can control the home environment remotely on behalf of the home residents, tract their health condition, predict their actions, and perhaps help operate lighting systems or other systems. Sensors have the ability of collecting data related to movement, states of objects, activities of the residents, states of the environment, pressure and strain; position, motion, direction, and distance; light, temperature, humidity, and radiation; type of material such as gas, solid, and liquid; images and videos; and physiological measurement. In addition, home-based systems can enable caregivers to monitor the wellbeing of residents by monitoring their sleep, fall, movement, social communication, and taking drugs. In addition, caregivers can use sensors to monitor physiologic factors such blood glucose, body temperature, cholesterol levels, heartbeat, blood pressure, dehydration, and partial oxygen saturation. Unattended autonomous surveillance systems can detect various incidences such as inactivity and falls and may trigger alarms if the individual is in a risky situation (Amiribesheli, Benmansour, & Bouchachia, 2015).
Smart home technology has revolutionized home-care. It provides an opportunity for and solutions for provision of appropriate care to diabetic foot-ulcer patients with the in a cost effective manner. Home-care revolution can also reduce the risk of amputations since timely care and interventions will be made available before deterioration of diabetic foot ulcers (Basatneh, Najafi, & Armstrong, 2018). The Internet of medical things along with smart devices has opened up new opportunities in healthcare. It has enabled remote monitoring of medical devices and smart sensors. Integration of smart home devices with Bluetooth-radio-connected add-ons and voice-controlled technology has expanded the scope and capacity of home care technology to deliver care to residents. Technology has improved digital wellness (Basatneh, Najafi, & Armstrong, 2018). Smart home technology targets a rich combination of various computational devices and facilities to deliver or identify personalized services to users who exchange information and interact with the environment (Ali & Awad, 2018).
Privacy is the major problem associated with the use of smart home technology. Smart home systems are equipped with tools such as cameras, actuators, and sensors that could collect different types of data about residents of a home and the home as a whole. Collected information may be accessed by unauthorized persons. Since tools that can collect data at homes can be controlled or monitored over the Internet, the systems may be controlled by unauthorized persons remotely for surveillance or for other ill motives (Amiribesheli, Benmansour, & Bouchachia, 2015). Security breaches continue to grow over the recent times. In the UK, about 90% of large organizations encountered security breaches in 2015 as opposed to 81% of large organizations that experienced security breaches in 2014. In addition, small businesses in the UK reported increased security breaches by 14% in 2015 compared to 2014 (Lin & Bergmann, 2016).
There are key security concerns associated with the use of smart home devices. It is also important to note that smart home environments contain sensitive, important, and private information that may be. Smart home systems are subject to security vulnerabilities such as virus attack, hacking of the home device, privacy violation, content fabrication, and information leak (Ali & Awad, 2018). In an attacker may try to manipulate, intercept, interrupt, and/or fabricate the transmitted data. These attacks may be side-channel attacks, invasive or physical attacks, or software attacks. In addition, an attacker can possibly disguise itself or himself/herself as an internal user through manipulation of interactive digital television or by accessing a television illegally through other ways to control appliances in a given home (Ali & Awad, 2018).
Privacy concerns have halted or delayed adoption of smart home technology. Smart home system developers should try to gain confidence and trust of prospective users. Smart meter rollouts were halted by trust-related and privacy issues. There is a concern that the data collected by Internet-enabled smart home technologies with the home environment may be accessed by authorized persons, agencies, the government, companies, or any third party. The technology should guarantee confidentiality, privacy, and secure storage of data (Wilson, Hargreaves, & Hauxwell-Baldwin, 2017). In addition, a third party may use microphone in smart home devices to eavesdrop someone. Digital voice assistance can listen continuously while switched on and let others to listen to private conversations, phone calls, and other sounds within the home environment. Besides, hackers may exploit weaknesses to break into a smart speaker to harvest prior recordings or to issue their own commands (Reddigari, 2020).
Smart home devices are the key to personal information. Smart home technology is extremely vulnerable to various types of security attacks, which makes Internet of Things-based smart homes to be insecure (Ali & Awad, 2018). In fact, they collect and store unimaginable load of information than the user may realize. Cybercriminals may be interested in exploiting weaknesses in or loopholes in security and safety of smart home devices to still information such as financial information, banking details, date of birth, and any other information that can benefit them in one way or the other. Some cybercriminals have expertise and tools to hack into smart device company database to access personal information of many issuers rather than target only a single user. There is a wide array of potential uses that a digital thief can use stolen digital information. They may use stolen personal information to take out a mortgage, apply for a credit card, impersonate an individual, and use for other malicious ways such as taint someone public image by disclosing personal secrets (Reddigari, 2020).
An individual can directly attack a field device or an interconnection device such as a gateway by using its local communication interface and network. A device can be impersonated through exploitation of a faulty certificate. Household devices and appliances are often connected to a wireless or wired network through the home gateway. Home gateway attacks can inevitably lead to an attack against the entire household network, since the gateway is considered as the point at which outside connections can be made (Ali & Awad, 2018). Internet of Things poses new privacy and security challenges in terms of integrity, authenticity, and confidentiality of the data collected, sensed, or exchanged by the Internet of Things objects. Network attacks can occur at the backbone network level, the control level, and at the traffic level. A direct attack on a home device at an interconnection point such as a gateway or through a field device can possibly be using its local communication interface or its network (Ali & Awad, 2018).
Data collected and stored in smart home devices are open to data manipulation. The ability to manipulate stored data may leave no evidence that a crime has occurred. Data transmitted via smart devices like smart television sets and printers are often unencrypted, which allows a smart cybercriminal or government agencies to view and/or alter collected through editing. Cybercriminals can replace existing video feeds while stealing the actual recordings or deleting recordings of a crime that occurred in the home such as a break-in. In addition, surveillance cameras can be edited thus shielding criminals from being caught (Reddigari, 2020).
Some information collected and stored in smart home systems may have psychological and emotional implications if they leak or are accessed by unauthorized persons. Smart devices are almost always Internet connected and tend to continuously collect data, monitor, and transmit data about the residents. Besides, it captures data relating to resident’s daily lifestyle and behavior, which may be used to meet malicious ends such as theft. A thief may learn about the times in which the home is not on-guard, for example when the householder is way for a break-in (Bugeja, 2018). In addition, unauthorized persons may use weaknesses in the smart home system to gain information relating to the resident’s medical records and health wellbeing since the system can collect information such as physiological data, frequency or incidence of falls, and other sensitive information (Bugeja, 2018).
Smart connected homes combine various types of devices, technologies, protocols, and interfaces that are at risk of security threats. Some threats that may be experienced include ransom-ware, elevation of privilege, spoofing, denial-of-service, privacy breaches, side-channel attacks, and signal injection (Bugeja, 2018). A spoofing threat may allow an intruder to eavesdropping network-traffic to access sensitive information. Risks and threats can impact availability of a system, confidentiality, integrity, and may aggravate for limited memory, slow processing, and less power settings. A threat is created or imposed by a specific asset by a certain threat agents. Various classes of threats of the smart home technology include technology, humans, and environmental threat agents (Bugeja, 2018).
Smart home devices may disclose someone’s location or where they live to the public. Some location is private information and should be hold secure since people with malicious intent may use an individual’s personal information to achieve evil ends (Reddigari, 2020). Wireless smart sensors have transformed into attractive devices for tracking and monitoring moving objects in smart home applications. However, these capabilities have become target for various attacks. Wireless sensors networks may be subject to attacks that can affect service availability through jamming, flooding and replay attacks. In addition, location information and sensors may be subject to network routing through wormhole attacks and unauthorized routing updates. Node authentication may enable occurrence of impersonation attacks and eavesdropping (Ali & Awad, 2018).
Breaches in property damage can be used to achieve property damage. Breaches in control of critical functions such as heating and cooling appliances can be more disastrous. A hacker may change thermostat settings forcing to Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning system into overdrive, which may cause is to malfunction. On the other hand, a cybercriminals may hack the oven, which may lead to a house fire while one is not home or worse when a disabled or debilitated person is at home (Reddigari, 2020).
Householders or users of smart home technology may be forced to incur additional costs above costs associated with performance of activities of daily living. High upfront cost is a major barrier in adoption of smart home technology (Wilson, Hargreaves, & Hauxwell-Baldwin, 2017). Installation costs for smart home systems including control technology, computer technology, communications technology, and image display technology is high (Li et al., 2018). On the other hand, excessive consumption on display may drive up electricity costs (Darby, 2018).
There are wider concerns that adoption and use of smart home technology may increase dependence on electricity networks, smart technology, and outside experts. Besides, it may lead to proliferation of non-essential luxuries in the home environment thus inducing laziness and inactive lifestyles in domestic life. It can increase the sense of control over the home environment at the expense of independence and reduced autonomy. It is important to note that an individual’s smart phone is no longer in full control of the owner since certain information such as location and personal data can be accessed by a third party (Wilson, Hargreaves, & Hauxwell-Baldwin, 2017).
Smart home technology is an emerging technological market that increases convenience, comfort, easy living, and provision for a channel of technology-based assistive services but it not free of challenges. Smart home market has grown significantly over the last decade (2010-2020) and its market is projected to expand in the foreseeable future. Organizations, entrepreneurs, and companies that invest in smart home technology need to educate potential users about potential benefits, risks, and challenges associated with the use of smart home technology. This may improve adoption of the technology by prospective users. Some of the identified benefits that can be derived from the use of smart home technology include enhanced capability to monitor and control electricity consumption, technology-aided assistive services, improved quality of living through reliance on technology to complete most activities of daily living, and remote monitoring of health and wellbeing. On the other hand, the use of this technology is associated with various challenges and risks. The key challenges include confidentiality, privacy, and safety concerns. Other challenges include unauthorized access to data, services, networks, and unauthorized monitoring and control of various interconnected devices and/or appliances in the smart home network.
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