Smart Homes were in the past viewed as a luxury, with their primary purpose being to serve as a show piece for the owners. This reality has changed substantially, both because of the development of newer technologies like Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI), and also because of simultaneously occurring social changes that are occurring in our everyday lives. The confluence of many socio-economic factors in conjunction with the evolving technologies may serve as the break out recipe, for Smart Living to significantly increase their presence and get integrated into our daily lives.
IoT stands for ‘Internet of Things’ and refers to the technology that enables devices to communicate over the internet, so that they can either be controlled remotely or can send information about their status to a remote user. These are usually electrical devices that range from simple lighting, fans, ACs, Washing Machines, Refrigerators etc. within homes to more heavy electrical devices that exist in buildings such as Pumps or Fire panels. In the case of businesses these can be fairly large machinery that communicates this was as well, such as MRI equipment or printers.
AI on the other hand refers to Artificial Intelligence, which typically amongst other things means a capability that is able to perform certain tasks automatically for the user. The ability to perform the tasks automatically is largely dependent on the data that the system has collected and has ’learned from’ or been ‘trained on’ using a variety of machine learning or deep learning algorithms.
Often times in the case of devices, IoT systems provide the data and the AI learns from that data to perform certain tasks that will relieve human burden. One very prominent example of this is Google’s Nest thermostat, which constantly learns from customers behavior on how it is operated, and then uses that information to automatically set the temperature to ensure comfort while residents are at home and energy efficiency while no one is present. There are many devices like this that together work to contribute towards Smart Living.
Adoption of Smart Technologies by People
With a median age of Indian population rising and many young folks purchasing homes by the time they are in their thirties, there is now a social class that has both disposable income and are comfortable with complex, automation-based technologies. These also tend to be the people who want to find ways in which they can enhance their day-to-day living experience, through Smart Living using the latest that technologies. Smart Living through the use of IoT, AI and even others additions such as Voice Assistants have integrated themselves into the needs of many to serve both basic needs and more luxurious conveniences.
Households today have situations where both spouses are working or are often out of the home, while having kids and elders at home. So safety and security is starting to be an important and basic driver of Smart Living as a means to be warned when things are happening at home or to be able to quickly seek help. Intrusion sensors, Panic buttons, Laser perimeters and more are available through the use of IoT technology to alert the authorities. IP Cameras with AI technologies such as image recognition and interpretation allow for identification of dangerous situations without needing a human being to constantly monitor video feeds. For certain aspects like fire safety in many of these high-rises, there is an increasing concern that unless Smart Living features like smoke or fire sensors detect the safety event early, it may be challenging in many of high rises to control a fire event or even depend on fire engines trying to make their way through impossible traffic. In addition to these from the comfort and convenience perspective, Smart Living can provide many advantages through thermostats, video door bells, air conditioners, motorized curtains and blinds, microwaves, washing machines, coffee makers and more. So it is likely that many of the next generation of appliances will be ‘smart’ right out of the box, like many of the LED bulbs that are readily available in the market today which directly connect to WiFi. Many products like sensors and switches are more readily available to serve a variety of needs like smoke or Carbon dioxide or cooking gas leak detection.
The potential offered by IoT and AI is not just restricted to new homes, because there are plenty of options that allow existing devices such as switches to be converted to Smart Switches, existing ACs to be modified to provide remote access via Smart Apps or AI based on cloud servers and more. The availability of wireless solutions also facilitates ease of deployment, so that no major electrical or civil work needs to be in consideration for the user to move on to Smart Living. Almost all existing brand of switches, AC or lighting all can be converted to be IoT enabled through many of retrofit solutions that are brand agnostic.
Much of this technology is now very affordable due to the continuously dropping costs of electronic devices. Many aspects of Smart Living for homes are well affordable even in value priced homes and will have an increasing presence in our daily lives.