Do you want a really smart home?

smart-personMost of the articles I read will tell you with great enthusiasm that home automation or smart homes are the ability to control your lights, like switch them on or off.

I can’t see what is the difference between switching your lights on and off at the wall or pressing a button on your phone apart from saving a few steps. That’s not automation . . . .

When I saw the post What Everyone’s Getting Wrong About Home Automation, it caught my eye and it basically what I envision for my Smart Family Room.

Please tell me about how smart do you want your home to be?

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Can the IoT Reduce Your Clutter?

I have never thought that a smart home can reduce, but the more I thought about it the it make sense. So here is one big reason for me that a smart home will make my live better.

Product Lifecycle Report

Over the past 30 years, the square footage of American homes has increased by over 50 percent.

There’s a lot to unpack in that statistic, from urban migration to income to personal tastes, but when we consider the sheer amount of stuff we cram into our homes it’s hardly surprising.

In fact, we have greatly increased our household possessions, and according to a four-year study of middle-class households published in 2012, the effect of chaos and clutter is linked to expanded home size, as well as increases in stress levels, and reduced outdoor activity.

While the tyranny of stuff may be stifling the middle-class, the pendulum may be about to swing in the other direction, thanks to the Internet of Things (IoT). But if the problem is things; how can an internet of things solve the problem? The answer lies in “servitization”.

Servitization can be defined a couple of…

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What is it that makes a Smart home smart? – Family Room

Today I’m going to take another step on my journey to find out what makes a smart home smart,

Riggins-FamilyIn my previous blog I wrote about a few criteria that I think will makes a smart home smart. Now I want to be more specific and focus on each major area in the home.

I’m going to start with the Family room because I think it is the most “lived” in area, but on the other hand in some houses the kitchen is also well use for living in, so I the same criteria can apply also to the living part of the kitchen. I will also write about the kitchen in a future post.

So now for my family room I think there must be only one remote that will control my TV, satellite receiver, music, Xbox, DVD player and CD player (yes I know 😕 ).

However, this can’t be all, because after all, the emphasis is on smart. When I hit a button on my smart phone or some other remote that is easy available in the room and can’t disappear, it must ask me, because it will automatic know who am I, what do I want to look/listen and what mood I’m in. Upon that and what it had learned from my previous choices, it must give me a short list from the latest content that is available from my own library, on-line or through satellite with a short description why I will like it.

In the mean time, while I’m busy make my tough 🙂 decision, it must lower the lights to a comfortable viewing level and get my TV/music player boot up and ready. When I made my selection, it must play the content at a volume that will compliment my mood as well the content for whatever I’m viewing or listening.

If it’s winter the fireplace must be started with the correct temperature if it is not already working. For me there’s nothing like the coziness of a fire place, share with a loved one after a cold day outside.

In the summer I like nature’s vibe in my garden and I experience it the best through some open doors and windows. So my smart home must open the doors to my patio and switch on the ceiling fans to provide a nice air flow, because it can get quite warm.

Speaking of sound, my speakers as well as any wiring must be cleverly hidden from view.

I think that is all I would like to be smart in my family room. Please let me know what do you want to be smart in your own family room?

What is it that makes a Smart home smart?

On the question “What is it that makes a Smart home smart?” I found there can be a lot of different answers and it depends on who you ask.

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After reading and thought about this question, I’m now going to put together what makes my Smart home smart.

The biggest thorn in my thigh with my living room now, is the multitude of remote controls needed to operate my TV, XBox, satellite and sound system. They are always with someone else (I have teenagers in my house) or have “disappeared” between cushions or who knows where, but if you need one, you will find all except the one that you are looking for.

Just think if your house have a system for the lights and another one for the security and you can go on and each one of them has its own control unit or remote control? What a nightmare that I doesn’t even want to think about.

Okay, so my first criteria is that all the systems should be able to work from one common control unit/s and that must include my family’s different types of smart phones.

I don’t know how stable is the electricity supply in other parts of the word, but here in sunny South Africa it is not to bad. However we have a problem with cable theft. So it can happen that on a Monday morning the power went of in the middle of the nigh and then your subtle wake up call of slowly brightening lights with your favourite music is not going to happen. Instead, everything will start with a bang and from there on the Monday is going to be very blue.

Therefore my second criteria will be that my Smart home needs a backup power supply for the “crucial” systems like my alarm, as well with a manual override for the other ones, like the locks. I want to at least be able to leave my home and lock it.

With the rising cost of energy and I don’t think its going to get better soon, I think that Smart homes must be very aware of the energy consumption and even better the wasting of energy thats happening in and around the home.

My third and I want to think its the most important criteria, is a Smart home that will track and communicate very clearly the energy usage and more important the savings of energy to the occupants in the home. I like the carrot approach more than the stick approach in live. 

My last criteria for my Smart home is that it must make the lives of disabled people and our elderly citizens much more comfortable and safe. I think they are the people that will benefit tremendously from home automation and won’t see it as a nice to have, brag with my friends kind of technoligy.

My mother will be 90 years old this December and I can just think how different her live would have been if this technoligy was more cost effective and freely available 10 years ago.

Well this is what I think that will make a home smart. I will like to hear what do you think about what makes a Smart home smart.

Please feel free to comment on this article and give me your opinion.

Home Automation Prototype – Expectations

Device Discovery

Lets try and chalk down the expectations from a typical home automation system. The system in consideration is a prototype that should be able to work seamlessly in a local home environment. Connectivity to/from the outside world or cloud would be the next logical step to this type of system.

Scale & Architecture

One ring to rule them allIt is a lot easier to have a local server-client architecture which can allow for centralized control, access and monitoring. A typical home automation network would consist of multiple control nodes, devices and one server to rule them all. However, the devices that control our very lives have been proliferating and hence the architecture of the system should be a able to scale easily.

Minimal Invasion

Most of the houses in developing nations aren’t home automation enabled. Lets face it, the switch boards are designed only in one way, the locks are supposed to lock manually…

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Smart homes for people with special needs

These days more and more home designers taking into account that houses should be nice, safe and practical to live in for everyone in the family, regardless of their physical capabilities. Be it the little baby brother that just starts to learn to walk, mom and dad that are in their prime years, a disabled uncle that needs a special environment or an ageing granddad and mother that are not any more physically capable to do what they have done a few year ago.

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These designers turn to home automation that will help them to create homes that are safe to live in and that is able to adapt to life’s changes – whether caused by changing family composition or the changing abilities of family members.

The traditional way to make a home more accessible for the physical handicapped is to think that by only do some physical changes to the home will be sufficient. And this will include things like change the position of the light switches, flours all on the same level, hand rails, easy accessible bathrooms and toilets and maybe a lift if it’s a double story.

With the traditional way in mind, just think what you can do with even today’s “limited” smart home technology? In the most basic sense you can use your phone, that will be with you most of the time, to control lights, to open doors, see who’s at the door, to water your plants and to open curtains or blinds and this list can go on and on. If you want to go further you can even automate these tasks when for instance it gets dark or light. Devices can share information like its dark and the person is approaching a room then turn on the light. Everybody is asleep put out all the lights, lock all the doors, turn down the heating in certain rooms and enable the alarm. And list can also go on and on.

If you want to read more about this topic I found these articles that I thinks is good. The Best Home Automation Solutions for Disabled People and Accessible Housing by Design.

I think in 5 years’ time the sky will be the limit in what you can do to make the physically disabled people around us, lives much easier.

What do you think? Will Smart homes make disabled people’s lives more easily at home?

6 ways your smart home will cut costs

Connected devices are changing the home insurance market.

It is not only home owners and occupants of Smart homes that think they are the best thing since sliced cheese. Insurance companies also like Smart homes.

I love saving money

A smart home is full of sensors that can alert you when a water pipe has burst and maybe automatic shut off the water supply or when there is a power failure and switch over to a backup generator. They can also detect intruders and let the relevant people know that there are people in your house without your approval, with the necessary video feeds to help them make immediate decisions as how to handle the situation.

Insurance companies start to realize that they can also use this information to calculate a cheaper rate because all this sensors/information at the correct time and with the correct people, will reduce their risk considerable.

To read more about this topic you can go to 6 ways your smart home will cut costs.

How Apple Thinks About Smart Homes

When Apple decides to do something, they do it properly. So when iOS 8 ships, it will have a feature that you won’t see, but will most probably change the way how smart homes work in the future. Along side this iOS 8 feature is the Apple HomeKit and with both these technologies, Apple plans to unify the unruly word of smart things.

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The challenge with smart devices at this moment, is that they each have there own interface/app on your smart phone and they don’t interact or relay messages to one another. However, it doesn’t matter how smart these devices are, throw then under one roof doesn’t make your home a smart home, because there is no universal smart interface.

A solution to this problem is a centralized hub that allows all your smart devices to talk to each other and be controlled via one unified interface. That is exactly what Apple hopes to do with its new HomeKit framework that will use the iPhone with the iOS 8 feuture to do the integration.

A very nice article ‘How Apple Thinks About Smart Homes‘ from Co.Lab discuss this topic in great lengths.

Smarthome upgrades

The time for home automation, thus making our homes smart, is rushing towards us like a steam train. Either you can say I’m going to wait till every issue is solved and prices are main stream or you’re going to enjoy the benefits of your Smart Home and making your friends green with envy.

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In her post Smarthome upgrades, Jenneth Orantia take us from the flying cars and robot maids in “The Jetsons” to the modern day of what is available for you today. She also mentioned some of the difficulties with Smarthome upgrades at this stage, like cost, the communication between devices from different manufactures.

She cleverly split her discussion into Smart appliances(Coffee machines, refrigerators, vacuum cleaners and smart switches), Home automation(lights, music, Apple home kit, Google and SmartThings), Smarter home security(camaras, motion detectors and smart locks) and High tech toys(wrist bands, wrist watch, smart forks and tooth brushes).

A real nice article with lots of information.

Eve – Smart Home, Meet Your Smart Yard

I battle a bit with the green finger thing. It’s not that I don’t plant things and try to let grow, the problem is usually that I didn’t give the planted things enough water.

I know there is watering products on the market that will take care of it, but my problem with them are that I live in a water scarce region, so I’m not that keen on those systems, because they give water indiscriminately.

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Then I read about the Eve Ecosystem and I was immediately interested. I think this system has lots of potential to make my gardening efforts much more successful.

Go and get more opinions at Digital Trends or Gadget Review. If you want more info straight from the horses’ mouth or maybe pre-order a unit you can go and visit The Eve ecosystem.

Will you please be so kind to like this post.