The Smart Home IoT ecosystem
A lot of what we have today are smart devices in the home that can be controlled, with a single purpose. The smarts come into play when you can create an ecosystem of those devices that can talk to each other and add a more heuristic view of your home through AI to create a personalised experience.
The Ultimate Goal
Today we are at the beginning of the Smart Home generation. The home of the future is going to be a home that is customised to you and your family. It will sense when you are home, which room you are in and anticipate what activity you will be doing. Integrations with your calendar along with social media, phone calls and email will allow your home to manage the everyday activities. Shopping, paying bills, scheduling and managing energy usage will all be second nature to the future Smart Home. The elderly will be able to get remote care and have virtual visits from family and friends. The future Smart Home will not be for those seeking an elite lifestyle but something that is accessible and available for all, and this is happening now.
Home Security for the Connected Home
We are not quite at the Jetsons level yet, but there are a lot of very simple and helpful things you can do today. Let's start with what everyone seeks in their home, and that is a sense of security.
A basic security system today will have motion sensors in rooms and cctv cameras strategically placed outside along with a siren.
You can extend this system by adding a smart lock that will track who entered and when with personalized user codes or shared access through the App, that means no more key under the doormat, ideal for guests or Airbnb. Include a smart doorbell and you can answer your door virtually and allow deliveries remotely. There is also advanced CCTV that integrates with your TV so that all of this can be done from your lounge chair. Automatic gates can also be included for ease of entry/exit. Lock and camera technology are now to the point that it is very affordable to put these things in place. Home Security has never been so cool.
Lighting and environment control
One of the more satisfying and immediate home automation features is lighting control. Not only can you set lighting scenes for multiple circuits with a single button push, but it can be a huge energy saver. It started with light bulbs but ultimately it is really now adding intelligence at the light switch. There are IoT relays that, with a few minutes from an electrician or talented DIY homeowner, can be put in behind the light switch and you can then manage your intelligent lights. You can set them to turn on and off based on time of day, conserving energy and saving money. Even more powerful is adding your lights into your IoT ecosystem, for example, have them switch on as the garage door is activated so you can see when you get out, all off when you leave and all on in a fire or burglary.
One of the areas that is becoming cheaper and more valuable is that of sensors, we have sensors for anything you can think of. From flood sensors and motion detectors to CO2, humidity and light sensors. For example, having your lights slowly come on based on the light sensor is a great way to ease into the morning. One sensor that I think everyone should have is a heat sensor, put this above your stove and no more having to flap a tea towel at the smoke alarm after you’ve burned the toast.
Easy to use Entertainment, Media and Home Theatre
Living the full busy lives we do, time to relax and spend quality time connecting with friends and family is more important than ever, and it's best when it's easy! As the range of viewing options has increased these can come along with a dauntingly complex set of actions to manage and switch between TV inputs. The easy to use Smartlife App features integrated control and does multiple functions with one button push, meaning switching between different options such as Netflix, Sky TV, Freeview etc, switching viewing from one room to another, dimming the lights and drawing the blinds is simple.
Flat Screen TV’s these days tend to have small speakers which produce poor sound quality. By using aesthetically recessed speakers and hidden equipment, your TV sounds great and your lounge still looks like your lounge.
Welcoming your children’s friends over to play games and watch movies on the projector, share education, research and online content or just enjoy photos and videos from your family holidays, your entertainment system is a wonderful way for families to connect and enjoy time together as part of your daily life. With the latest advances in technology, a Home Theatre experience is easier and more affordable than ever to achieve.
Power usage, heating and cooling
Solar, energy storage and variable rate pricing open up new opportunities for smart home technology to help save energy and reduce costs. Rather than exporting electricity back to the grid for a low return, we can detect when the house is generating an excess and use it to cool or heat the house or to run other large electrical loads. There is no need to charge the car or run the hot water during the peak times - if your system stores energy you can draw down on this, known as “peak shaving”. Automatically scheduling hot water, pools, and a/c to minimise peak energy usage not only saves cost, but it is also good for the environment.
Technology to help our most vulnerable
We have covered some interesting value propositions you can get from having a smart home, some of them are for convenience, some are to keep us safe and others are to save on energy and money. One extra value we think is extremely important is passive monitoring and caring for the elderly. Non-intrusive passive monitoring for our elderly allows them to live longer in their own home and retain their independence. With the growth of passive monitoring, wearables and health monitoring, we are able to offer ways to easily take care of our loved ones more than ever before. There are many options to make it easier for elderly, such as easy-to-use TV with modern entertainment such as Netflix, Ted Talks and other internet based media, automatic lights, motorised blinds, automatically turning off/locking doors, adjusting heating and cooling, and being able to monitor and adjust these remotely are a few of the features available. See more at smartlifecare.co.nz
Smartlife and the Open IoT Ecosystem
The challenge for the smart home industry today is how to allow these devices to interconnect within the same ecosystem. As always in these large domains you will find multiple ecosystems that try to push you towards one manufacturer, protocol or service. Smartlife are not just a Home Automation company. We have been working in these disparate ecosystems too long and now we have become an IoT Platform company. That does sound a bit over the top, but it is true. We have built a hub that manages a wide range of protocols and accepts many off the shelf devices. We are still growing and intend to keep our development as open and all-encompassing as we can. With our history in custom development, we are constantly adding and tweaking what we can do and what we can support to meet the needs of our customers. The Smart Home really is just beginning and the only way to keep up is to switch on.
With cloud computing, always-on internet and simple advanced technology for sensors and devices, we are seeing the beginnings of the next generation of smart homes.