On the face of it, Internet of Things (IoT) promises smart homes that take care of a range of needs, whether it’s waking you up in the morning, monitoring your health or even protecting the home against intrusions. In the past few years, IoT technology has gained significant momentum with estimates from market research company IoT Analytics indicating that around 7 billion IoT devices are already in use, and the number is projected to increase to 20 billion devices by 2020. IDC forecasts that the growth of IoT products and services will continue to grow as their availability increases.
The challenge with the fast-paced adoption of IoT devices lies in keeping the information that the devices collect secure as every connected device can become the target of hackers. It becomes even more critical since many IoT based home automation systems and devices perform a range of security-related actions such as remote unlocking of homes, providing access to in-home cameras or collecting sensitive personal data.
IoT Technology: A Modern Approach to Connecting Everything
While current IoT devices come with a range of features and services that one could not have imagined even a decade ago, in the future, new advancements in areas such as artificial intelligence and robotics can completely transform homes to make them smarter than ever before. While AI-based voice-enabled assistants are already in use in many homes, over the next decade, these platforms can extend their functions to serve as the brain of the entire home. They can undertake a range of activities from controlling all the smart gadgets within the home, besides monitoring and tracking the schedules, health and preferences of the residents, whether it’s their favorite genre of music or the intensity or color of the lighting in the room.
How Internet of Things (IoT) is shaping the Future of Home Automation
Smart gadgets have been in use for home automation for a while. However, with IoT enablement, their scope has extended tremendously to cover a range of functions.
1. Smart Homes
Currently, home automation systems operate on voice commands, but in the future, they could evolve into intelligent systems that know what to do even in the absence of human voice commands. Their smart technology could extend their functionality to a range of actions that offer unmatched convenience.
2. Home Security
While advanced home security systems of today have the capability of remote monitoring and safety alerts, with technological advancements, these systems will come with advanced capabilities such as fences with motion sensors that alert homeowners about unusual intrusions (as opposed to false alarms every time the pet jumps over the fence) and drones that automatically activate, based on an alert, to follow the intruders and monitor their actions.
3. Network Infrastructure
In the smart home of the future, the increased number of intelligent devices will require improved network infrastructure. Gadgets need to be always connected so that they can work when needed, thereby increasing dependency on a reliable and stable Internet connection. Wi-Fi mesh or other self-configuring networks that allow multiple devices to connect to it and detect and resolve connectivity issues before it reaches the customer complaint stage will provide a more reliable smart home network in the future.
4. Personal Health & Fitness
For monitoring health-related needs of every resident within the home, devices such as smartwatches, fitness trackers, smart scales and wearables such as smart clothes can help to track fitness and wellness to improve quality of life by continuously monitoring health information and updating personal fitness benchmarks.
Advantages of Internet of Things (IoT) in Home Automation
IoT enabled home automation systems can optimize available resources such as energy and water, making the home more self-reliant through water harvesting or harnessing energy from alternative sources such as solar or wind power.
While smart appliances cost significantly higher than conventional ones, by automatically regulating the thermostat or air-conditioning, switching off lights when they aren’t needed or even dimming lights based on the time of the day, they help to save energy, thereby contributing to cost savings in the long term.
Smart homes go beyond mere energy saving to provide an eco-friendly and sustainable alternative to homeowners with features such as intelligent heating, sensor-activated stoves, water-conserving showerheads and other devices that minimize the use of energy within the home.
4. Provides Better Quality of Life
With a higher degree of personalization, smart homes automate several actions, leaving homeowners with a lot more time on their hands to do what they enjoy. Moreover, since they work on voice commands, they can significantly benefit people with disabilities or even older adults or young children who find it challenging to operate appliances.
A Few Examples of Internet of Things (IoT) in Home Automation
Besides automatically turning on or off based on the time of day, smart lighting systems can regulate the intensity of the illumination based on the need or mood. For instance, by reading data from a wearable that indicates that the individual is tired, it can dim the lighting to create a relaxing ambience.
Similarly, the smart home system can collect listening preferences of the residents based on events or activities and compile playlists that automatically turn on during a party or when they are on the treadmill.
3. Smart Gym Equipment
By monitoring health, using heart rate and other variables, users can get customized workouts to suit their current level of fitness.
4. Fitness Trackers
The benefit of fitness trackers and other wearables is that they help to monitor and record health independently and regularly. Based on the data, personal benchmarks of wellness and health can be easily created.
5. Doors & Gates
Besides remote monitoring and control of doorbells, gates and locks, intelligent home security systems can use visual recognition to open and close doors automatically to residents.
6. Home Appliances
Imagine smart appliances that automatically turn on to wake you up with freshly brewed coffee or have a hot meal cooked for you by the time you get home after work. By controlling sockets where home appliances are connected, smart homes of the future can provide these services and more!
7. Thermostat & Air Conditioning
Smart home systems sync with weather updates or even monitor data from variables to regulate the temperature within the home more efficiently. It can also track the number of people in the room at a given point of time to set the ideal temperature.
While time-activated sprinklers or watering systems are already in use in many homes, IoT enabled smart homes to go a step further to monitor the condition of the soil to see whether it is dry, before automatically irrigating it.
9. Anti-intrusion Protection
By activating alarm zones within the home, smart homes can protect themselves against intrusions and keep the house secure.
Home automation technology is evolving at a rapid pace, and with the various aspects that it can control, it is essential to ensure that everything syncs seamlessly to provide a truly smart experience. At TechAhead, we have helped several clients develop web and mobile-based apps for IoT enabled systems. Additionally, we train our team in the latest technologies and systems that help us to keep pace with the advancements in IoT and artificial intelligence, which lie at the foundation of smart homes of the future.