Photo of a dictionary with the word definition

Common Home Automation Terms and What They Mean

With recent developments in home automation and the increasing number of smart home devices being released on the market, now is the time to start building your own clevrhome. As smart home technology evolves, so, too, do the words we use to describe it. Most generally, home automation and home technology have been the early descriptors.

But with so much change in such a short amount of time, there could be a lot of confusion as to what all the techno-jargon means.. especially if you are just getting started with home automation. We wanted to list out, and make sense of some common smart home technology jargon you might encounter.

Our list will be added to over time so please check back frequently, and if you have any suggestions for more terms to add please contact us or leave a comment.

Actuator – An actuator is the general term for a mechanism that’s triggered into action by a sensor.

AirPlay – Apple’s proprietary protocol that allows wireless streaming between devices of audio, video, device screens, and photos.

Android – Android is a Linux-based operating system designed primarily for touchscreen mobile devices; such as smartphones and tablets.

Automation – The use of electronics to complete various household tasks that functions and operates automatically without need for human interference.

Bluetooth LE (Low Energy) – The newest Bluetooth protocol that uses less power in communicating with device, increasing efficiency and saving battery life.

Body Sensor – A device used to detect the presence of a human.

Cloud Computing – Storing and accessing data and programs over the Internet instead of your computer’s hard drive.

Dimmer – Devices used to lower the brightness of a light allowing you to create a particular scene or mood.

DLNA – DLNA or “Digital Living Network Alliance”  is a protocol which allows devices to “talk” to each other over a network without requiring user intervention or configuration.

DMX – A data protocol for excellent lighting control. Commonly found in stage lighting for large venues, nightclubs and theatres.

Domotics – The word domotics literally means home robotics. A contraction of the Latin word domus means home, and the words informatics, telematics or robotics.

Ethernet – A system of wires and devices for connecting computers and other network devices so that they can work together.

Fingerprint Sensor  – Used to read a person’s unique fingerprint, to verify a person’s identity. TouchID is an example of a fingerprint sensor.

Geofence – A virtual perimeter around a real-world area – can be used to trigger events when exiting or entering the area.

Home Automation – Using technology, computers and devices to control functions in your home automatically. What clevrhome is all about! 

Hub – Home automation hubs unify all your connected gadgets and devices, allowing you to manage them from a single app.

Hue – Phillips Hue is a growing collection of smart lighting products. Hue can be controlled using an app on a smarthone or tablet, and can be set to difference colours or light intensities to create a particular scene or mood.

InfraRed (IR) – An ageing but reliable method of device control using light which requires direct line of sight, also used in motion detection sensors.

IFTTT – IFTTT or “If This Then That” is a web service that aggregates many other web apps into one place and allows you to create “recipes” to perform actions based on triggers.

Insteon – Insteon is a protocol in which devices communicate over both power lines and wirelessly, and combines them into a single smart home automation mesh.

Internet of Things – The concept of basically connecting any device to the Internet (and/or to each other). This includes everything from access points to your ZigBee hub.

IP address – A unique string of numbers separated by periods that identifies each computer using the Internet Protocol to communicate over a network.

LAN – LAN or “Local Area Network” is a small Ethernet network connecting a limited area like your home.

LED – LED or “light-emitting diode ” is an energy-saving lighting option that’s perfect for smart homes.

NFC  – Near Field Communication enables devices in close proximity to one another to detect each other and share data.

Protocol – A specified set of rules for devices to communicate by. There are a few that were designed with home automation in mind (such as UPB (Universal Powerline Bus), Insteon, Z-wave, and ZigBee), and others that are being repurposed for this task (such as Bluetooth LE, NFC, and Wi-Fi).

Relay  – An electrically operated switch.

Remote – A device used to operate a system from far away without needing to physically interact with the device.

Sensor  – A device that detects or measures a physical property and records, indicates, or otherwise responds to it

Smart Home – Another term for “Home Automation”.

UPB – UPB or “Universal Powerline Bus” is a protocol which uses your house’s wiring to transmit data between devices.

Universal remote control – A device that can replace your other remote control. There are options such as the Logitech Harmony which are programmable and can automate turning on devices.

Wi-Fi  – Wi-Fi or WiFi is a technology used for wireless local area networking. Wi-Fi is also one of the the most common protocol used in smart home devices.

ZigBee  – ZigBee is a protocol used to create personal area networks built from small, low-power digital radios.

Z-Wave  – Z-Wave is a protocol that runs on the 908.42MHz frequency band, due to this there is interference with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth on the crowded 2.4GHz band.