Home Automation Technology: The Future with IoT and Home Automation
Aug 21, 2019
iot home automation
Home Automation Technology: The Future with IoT and Home Automation
Home automation technology is a progressive area. It gains more and more attention and investment both from old-timers like LG or Amazon and fresh and innovative startups like Sensative or Lumin.
The range of products and solutions in this area is also growing. Started with very basic ideas like automated lighting, home automation applications today are diverse, mostly useful, and sometimes unexpected. For example, now you can get an Alexa-enabled toilet, which, by the way, has generated unbelievable excitement at this year’s CES. Who would have thought?
Needless to say, the Internet of Things is the core and enabler of home automation. To connect smart things with each other, make them talk to each other and configure certain capabilities, actions or regimes, they should be IoT-enabled.
Today, we want to explain how exactly IoT contributes to home automation and what we should expect to see in the future in this domain.
As home automation applications became available, affordable and even popular, this technology started changing people’s routines. Today, we already manage our appliances differently, secure our homes differently, even watch our kids and pets in a whole different way.
According to some predictions, this is just the beginning. Forbes once cited Zion Market Research claiming the value of the smart home market would grow to more than $53 billion by 2022.
Gartner analysts believe more 12 billion units of connected things will settle in households by 2020. By then, if we believe the estimate provided by the UN, there will around 8 billion people on the planet, including infants. So this makes 1.5 smart devices per person, again, including infants.
Technology experts express different opinions on how exactly our future with home automation will look. Most of them agree, though, that we will see smarter and more autonomous connected systems. We will explore more benefits and capabilities of big data, therefore, raise privacy issues and, at the same time, enable better personalization. Let’s see how things unfold.
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Connected Technology and Home Automation Today
Based on IoT, home automation provides a wide range of benefits not only to homeowners and their neighborhoods, but utility companies and social organizations, services, even governments and people as a whole. Here are some of the most obvious.
Smart locks and surveillance cameras are the pioneers of IoT and smart home technology, which have been adopted earlier than others, and for obvious reasons. Today, connected security tools are abundant, they become more autonomous and capable.
For example, sensor-based doorbells armed with high-res cameras know exactly when they need to start recording video, alarm you or make a smart lock open to let a delivery guy in. Of course, it totally ruins a famous Amazon joke, but this is not the point.
Some of the most bright examples in this family are a Door View Cam by the Ring owned by Amazon (explains everything) and Answer DUAL Cam by Maximus.
Of course, this benefit goes beyond securing the entrance door. The same Ring and plenty of other companies produce sensor stripes, smoke/CO/leakage and other detectors which make our homes safer and provide us with better control.
Enhanced comfort is another reason why people are willing to spend extra and integrate IoT and home automation technology to their places.
Self-adjusting blinders, self-driving window cleaner robots, food-reordering fridges, laundry-folding machines, autonomous lighting and thermostats — all these appliances have self-explanatory names and speak comfort and relief from mundane work. Don’t mix up with laziness, as we haven’t mentioned Roomba in this list.
This is where the application of Internet of Things in home automation benefits everyone — homeowners, their neighbors, the country and even the whole planet. Sustainable and environmentally friendly lifestyle is becoming popular but requires effort and knowledge to start. Fortunately, connected technology provides us with a wide range of tools to help everyone hop on board.
From autonomous LED lighting, power consumption and waste management systems to radical solutions like green energy and smart grids for households, IoT-powered digital tools enable everyone to go green, decrease carbon footprint and cut down on pollution.
The range of IoT home automation ideas in this sector is constantly growing. Watttime, for example, offers a smart and at the same time effortless way for a household to stick to clean energy. The company provides IoT and data tools which allow anyone to automatically switch from one energy provider to the other one always choosing the greenest one.
Learn more How IoT Strengthens Green Energy Initiative
Even though home automation technology has been around for a while, many solutions are infant or in test regime, and there’s always a huge room for improvement.
Some of the most discussed challenges of smart home, in general, are relevant to home automation. For example, the problem of cross-compatibility – the ability of smart machines to communicate and work with each other and safely share data – is the major obstacle for successful home automation.
You see, if you don’t get smart things to talk to each other, for example, because of the difference in connectivity protocols or platform lock-in, you won’t be able to configure the desired set of dependencies and actions.
For example, if you want your coffee machine to start warming up once your smart blinders open when you wake up, you need to make the blinders send a signal to the coffee machine. The problem of cross-compatibility is the lack of common language between the blinders and the machine in this case.
Home automation hardware producers solve this problem differently. Some companies which sell related products partner with each other and enable interoperability with selected IoT objects. For example, previously mentioned Ring’s Door View Cam doorbell can be connected to several smart locks from different producers.
Others create the whole line of products, for example, for security or electricity monitoring and control, and allow homeowners to create a sort of a hub.
However, the most popular solution to the cross-compatibility challenge is voice assistants. Connected to Alexa or Google Home, different home automation tools can be controlled and configured from one place. This solution also solves the problem of multiple controls – too many apps to control every single smart object. On the other hand, it raises a number of privacy concerns, which is another great problem in the smart home industry.
The number of home automation applications can be limited, probably, only by our imagination. So far, only the most urgent and evident ones have been implemented one way or another. But Rome wasn’t built in a day, and some of the best home automation ideas are still to be revealed. However, the market is already bursting with incredible IoT products for households. Here's some of them.
Autonomous house. This category includes both the interior and exterior objects. It covers everything in and around the house, from smart self-tinting windows like Halio to Dyson’s connected air monitor and purifier, which sensors identify particles and gases in real time and purifies the air on demand.
Autonomous security. Here come the whole families of products from the old-timers in the IoT market — Ring, Nest, August, Schlage. This category includes smart locks, doorbells, surveillance systems as well as individual contact sensors for doors and windows which can detect unauthorized entrance, for example, strips from Sensative.
Automated energy systems. This is a rich category which covers traditional electricity management — smart circuits, switches or plugs provided by GE or Eve, intelligent energy consumption, monitoring and control systems like Lumin, and renewable energy generators like Sunpartner Technology’s windows, walls and rooftops, which generate enough solar power to supply the needs of the entire house.
Autonomous appliances. This is a diverse category. Here you can find a wide range of kitchen appliances — refrigerators like Samsung Family Hub, smart ovens and dishwashers, entertainment hubs — TVs and smart speakers, as well as cleaning devices – here comes Roomba and the like.
Autonomous furniture. This category is less popular than the previous ones, but these IoT applications for home automation quickly gain interest and already shine at CES in Vegas. In this category, you will find smart beds with sleep tracking sensors and in-built Alexa, mirrors with skin analytics and physical assessment capabilities and the whole smart bathrooms with, here they go, intelligent toilets such as Numi 2.0.
IoT Home Automation Solutions in Digiteum
Among home automation applications, automated energy systems could be one of the most useful, considering the pressing environmental situation in the world and dynamic shift to green energy and prudent consumption of resources.
Digiteum has a solid experience in energy and home automation projects, which include IoT design and development, big data analytics and data science. One of our ongoing projects is a complex system for managing energy consumption and storage in households. This system provides benefits to homeowners, utility companies and other professionals in the energy sector. Here are some capabilities of the system:
1. Homeowners can monitor and manage electricity consumption throughout the house and see the status of each connected circuit using visual dashboards and reports. 2. Users can remotely identify plugged devices, control them and get the system to notify if something goes wrong or any anomaly is detected. 3. The system allows to automatically calculate power cost and predict future expenses. 4. Users can configure automated energy consumption regimes and seamlessly switch to energy-saving behavior. 5. The system provides smart energy storage capabilities, allows to collect power surplus and control its distribution and usage in the off-grid scenario. 6. Utility companies use data analytics to analyze power consumption, identify patterns, make predictions and develop on-demand utility plans. 7. Energy conservation specialists and environmentalists can use mob energy consumption data to develop a pro-conservation strategy and promote prudent energy consumption behavior.
Find out more about the benefits of the energy management system in our case study.
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3 Main Home Automation Trends
Using technology to go green and promote reasonable use of resources is a common trend, and it directly affects the fluctuations in the home automation market. In fact, focus on sustainability together with a few other trends visibly shape the future of autonomous homes. Here they are.
Sustainability is one of the major home automation trends these days. Not only do innovators and tech producers proudly mention their green efforts such as the use of renewables, recyclability and sustainable design, but even focus their product functionality to support environmental protection.
For instance, the smart lighting system by TP-Link responds to the natural light and cuts down on wasting energy. Nest thermostat certified by EPA also enables incredible energy savings which reflect in reduced carbon footprint.
Anticipatory experience with AI
Another home automation trend is the expanding use of advanced algorithms which enable anticipatory experiences. Home automation devices of the new generation go beyond programmable regimes or supervised performance. Powered by AI, smarter machines now can make predictions, adjust to changing the environment and provide a truly anticipatory experience.
Well-known Nest thermostat, for example, uses algorithms to learn your temperature preferences and automatically adapts to your habits and seasons change. Samsung has even a more ambitious offer. The company promises to create a unified smart home where AI anticipates the needs of its residents in details, from morning routines to dinner plans.
Voice assistants have been hot for a while. But only now, thanks to open-source kits by Amazon and Google, you can integrate Alexa or Google Home to basically any device with a mic and a speaker.
In fact, at CES 2019 it was hard to find an appliance, gizmo or even a piece of furniture which would not respond to Alexa or Ok, Google. Smart mirrors, beds, coffee tables, baby monitors, and of course, toilets — all are connected to voice assistants. But as we’ve found out earlier, sometimes it’s a way to solve a problem rather than add another feature.
These are just several home automation trends. Surely, every year brings a few surprises and even frenzy. However, the core development path of IoT and home automation areas are solid — to make people’s lives more efficient, secure, comfortable and sustainable.