Advancing smart home technology has quickly made smart houses more than just a dream home in a movie. Imagine never physically touching a light switch or thermostat again. Manufacturers and app developers are working towards making this goal a reality. Berg Insight predicts that by 2015 automation system sales will reach $9.5 billion. Growing even bigger by 2017, CNN expects the sales to rise to $44 billion. To get a better understanding of smart home technology, this blog post will explore the various smart home technologies, their capabilities, and how context can be used for enhancement.
Lights, Camera, Action
Phillips’s new line of LED lightbulbs, Hue, can be controlled entirely from your smartphone. Turn on, off, dim, and even change the color of the light without getting off the couch. Set lighting presets for energizing, concentrating, reading, and relaxing. Be greeted with light when you arrive home using geofencing technology. Don’t sweat it if you forgot to turn a light out, Phillips allows you to control your lights remotely.
While this sounds great, smart home technology should be making things even more effortless. Through the use of context, the lighting system should be able to tell when there are family members in my house or not to automatically turn lights off as the last person leaves the house. Why limit this feature to entering and exiting the house? iBeacon sensors have the capability to know where you are in your house therefore context should be further integrated to control each room as users move from room to room within the house. As for the perfect hue, your calendar knows when you are exercising, working, relaxing, etc. This information from your calendar should automatically be populated into an app controlling your home to use context in order to adjust the lights accordingly.
All Inclusive Control Lacks Context
Lowe’s Iris home kits eliminate any worry or questioning as to whether you turned on your alarm system before leaving. Smart home controlled alarm systems are not new to the smart home technology industry, but one of the most useful. Iris encompasses several of the smart home technologies into one package. Lock, light, alarm, motion sensor, and video control from your mobile devices is included in the Iris smart kit. Using iBeacons to monitor your loved ones, Iris can send alerts directly to your phone when your children arrive home. Sensors on pet collars can also interact with iBeacons to lock and unlock dog or cat doors allowing your pets to enter and exit the home without compromising security.
Iris does a good job integrating multiple aspects of home management into one system but once again it raises the question of how can we further enhance this technology? Smart home technologies, including Iris, have tremendous potential. There should be no need to enter an alarm code again by using sensors to monitor when users are home or away to turn on and off the alarm.
Apple Takes on Smart Home Technology Management
While some solutions such as Iris aim to integrate multiple smart home technologies into one control center, there is no one device or application that currently exists to do so. After Google’s $3.2 billion acquisition of Nest Labs in January, Apple users started speculating whether Apple would enter the smart home technology market as well. With Apple’s Fall 2014 release of its newest mobile operating system, iOS 8, it aims to manage all your home technologies through their new HomeKit application.
HomeKit will be released as a part of iOS 8 allowing home management devices and applications to communicate with each other, creating optimal user experiences. In an interview with Apple, Philips Lighting CEO Eric Rondolat said, “HomeKit will allow us to further enhance the Phillips Hue lighting experience by making it simpler to securely pair devices throughout the house and control them using Siri.” HomeKit eliminates the need for users to use touch control buttons on the phone, now controlling through the use of voice commands.
ChaiOne Introduces ContextHub
To further simplify smart home technology management, and the entire Internet of Things, ChaiOne has created ContextHub. The centralization of all apps and devices, extending beyond smart home technology, creates unique experiences for each user. For example, your iPhone’s calendar can communicate through ContextHub with your smart home technology to automatically control your coffee machine, lights, garage door, and home security based around your schedule. This is able to take out the long and tedious middle step of tediously manually programming your home to function based on your schedule.
It is evident that smart home technology is an extremely fast growing market. As the technology continues to develop, it will become a standard feature of homes. When this time comes, smart home management solutions such as HomeKit and ContextHub will become essential in managing your devices.