You’re undoubtedly familiar with the term “smart phone.” Most of us have smart phones in our pockets or purses, and we use the amazing little devices to connect with each other through a wide variety of communication apps.

But what, exactly, is a smart home? And how can it make your world easier, safer, more efficient, and even more fun?

The concept might be a bit abstract, but imagine being able to control your appliances and devices without touching them, sometimes without even thinking about them!

“Smart home technology is a way to connect all of the electronic devices and systems in your home to each other,” says Ryan Graham, vice-president of operations at Graham Builders in Honolulu. “This allows you to control them remotely using a central hub, smartphone, tablet, or voice commands.”

How does a smart home work?

Many of us already use smart home technology for entertainment. We stream music, films, and television shows on audio and video devices that connect to the Internet and each other. “But in a home with fully implemented smart technology,” says Graham, “that’s just the beginning.”

Typically, smart homes are furnished with a variety of connected devices: appliances, lights, security systems, cameras, thermostats, televisions, stereos, and more. These devices use wireless technology to communicate with each other and with a hub, or central control system, that serves as the system’s brain. This hub can be a dedicated, standalone device, or an app or program on a smartphone or computer.

“Using your mobile app, you can control the smart devices in your home from anywhere you have an Internet connection, to adjust settings, monitor status, and receive notifications,” Graham says. “You can use voice commands to control devices and appliances, and you can automate tasks and routines, like turning lights on and off at certain times, or adjusting the temperature to cool your house before you get home.”

Smart security systems include features like surveillance cameras, doorbell cameras, smart locks, and intrusion sensors, and can send alerts if they detect suspicious activity. And the ability to easily control lighting and cooling on smart devices, observes Graham, can result in reduced utility bills.

“Homeowners can customize their smart home systems to meet their family’s very specific individual and group needs and preferences,” he adds. “They can create schedules, set up automation rules, and adjust settings to suit everybody’s lifestyle.”

Smart homes for aging in place

For homeowners who plan to age in place, or who have mobility issues, smart technology can be a game-changer.

Many people already wear smart devices that monitor vital signs and sleep patterns; some devices provide real-time data to healthcare professionals. “Motion sensors and smart flooring systems can turn on lights, detect movement patterns, and send alerts if a fall is detected,” says Graham.

Personal emergency response systems, voice-activated assistants, and smart displays and cameras allow kupuna to call for help in emergencies, and to communicate with family, friends, and caregivers. Voice assistants can also provide reminders for appointments, answer questions, and make lists.

Medication management can be tricky at any age. Smart pill dispensers can provide audio or visual reminders to take medication, reducing the risk of missed or double doses. Video doorbells and smart locks provide easy access to caregivers and family members while maintaining security. Smart smoke detectors, water leak sensors, and carbon monoxide detectors can send alerts to homeowners and caregivers in case of emergencies.

Ensuring data privacy & security

Because smart homes collect data and connect to the Internet, it’s important to prioritize privacy and security. “Robust security measures are essential to protect against unauthorized access and data breaches,” Graham says. “An experienced installation team can help keep your smart home safe.”

Established in 1990, Graham Builders is the recipient of the Better Business Bureau of Hawaii Torch Award for ethics in small business. If you’d like to learn more about smart home technology, sign up for Graham Builders’ free Building Your Home for Life seminar from 9 to 11 a.m. on Saturday, December 2nd, 2023, and get straight talk from seasoned design/build professionals about your project. For information and registration, visit, or call 808-593-2808.