“Alexa, Open the door!” or “Alexa, turn off the lights!” voice commands to control your home access or lighting or many other actions is no longer a dream but a reality!
Humans have always wanted more than what they have. It is this desire of never being satisfied that paved the path for creativity. New technologies, gadgets, and devices are a result of this creativity.
The concept of Smart Homes was introduced to us way back in 1962 through the TV show Jetsons who lived in an automated futuristic world. Various smart homes, featured in Hollywood movies such as the McFly Home in Back to the Future II or the Stark Mansion in Ironman, gave wings to our imagination about the unlimited possibilities a smart home can offer! Thanks to technological advancements many of those dreams are turning into reality!
Automated homes have been around us in some form or the other. A microwave that functions according to a specific time and temperature is one example of simple home automation. But with the intervention of the Internet of Things in the design of homes, smart homes have reached a new exciting level! And, stats would have us believe that the global smart home market is expected to cross $53 billion USD by 2022!
Wikipedia defines IoT as “the extension of internet connectivity into physical devices and everyday objects.”
IoT entails devices embedded with electronics, internet connectivity, other types of hardware so as to enable the devices to communicate with each other over the internet. This facilitates remote monitoring and control.
Just like any control system, home automation entails detecting signals from sensors, processing them and sending out the control signals. However, since it offers a multitude of features, it is more complex than the basic control system.
Sensors are placed at various locations in the house. These sensors are monitored with the help of Internet-based servers.
But an IoT based smart home does not control individual actions. There is an interconnection between various actions. For instance, you could have a sensor that detects the presence of the owner at the entrance and the controller activates the opening of the door. This could be linked to automatic switching on of lights on entering the house. Therefore, there is a need for integration between different sensors.
In an IoT based home automation system, a number of smart devices are connected over a common network which is established by a gateway. This enables crosstalk between sensors over the main controller unit.
It is the brain of the home automation system. The controller is connected to the home router with the help of an ethernet cable. The controller receives the inputs from the sensors and communicates the output to the cloud network located over the internet.
This kind of architecture enables communication of the controller with remote devices such as tablets and mobiles, etc.
The protocols used of wireless communication in home automation are, ZigBee, Z-Wave, and Wi-Fi
The data between various hardware devices such as sensors, controller, and output devices are communicated over the cloud. A gateway or router enables the connection between hardware and cloud.
Data analysis and decision making on the cloud are powered by software hosted in the cloud.
Since the data is available on the cloud, it can be easily accessed through smartphones, tablets, etc. This provides the user with complete control of the various devices in their home. Users can communicate using the command to control various devices through their smartphone from any location.
The entire IoT home automation system is supported by an IoT platform which includes support software that connects edge hardware, access points, and data networks to end-user applications. IoT platforms basically serve as “middlemen” between the input data and the end-user SaaS or smart home app.
An IoT platform comprises:
Is it just owning a fancy home that is driving consumers towards smart homes? Well! The fact is that home automation offers numerous benefits to users:
Automatic operation of various gadgets at home makes life convenient by automating routine tasks. It saves time and effort of the owners enabling them to channel their time towards more productive activities.
In a survey conducted, 63% of respondents said that they are motivated by the security smart homes offer, that they would adopt them. Smart locking and monitoring offered by smart cameras make smart homes more secure.
Energy saving is higher in smart homes because energy consuming devices such as thermostats are smart and switch off automatically after usage.
Homeowners can now have complete control over all their devices through their smartphones from any location. Smart homes can also be operated by voice commands simplifying their control.
IoT empowered home automation is here to stay! If the trends are to be believed, smart homes will no longer be homes of choice but a home of need. This is because automated homes offer convenience, control, and conservation of devices. It comes as no surprise that the total consumer spending on smart home devices is expected to reach $80 billion USD by 2022!
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