The term smart home is not new, it has been there for a long time but due to invention in Computing, Smart Phones, Internet , Big Dat and Artificial Intelligence System. Smart home is now getting into totally new era.
Controlling heating and cooling system of your home when you are in office or outside home. Securing your home when you are going for vacation or if someone rings the bell at door when you are not there.
Imagine if a bugler breaks into your home, building or office and you are able to control that even if you are not at home. Or if smoke or gas is detected at your home.
What is “Smart Home”?
The term “Smart Home” is very popular these days, sometimes it is mixed with Home Automation but I must say Home Automation is subset of Smart Home. Technologies improved rapidly which improved the components we have been using at home.
For example a typical home has Lighting, Fans, Heating and Cooling System, Home Appliances, Entertainment System, Doors, Windows, Locks, Irrigation , Drainage, Home Cleaning, Water Heating, Cooking and so on. What if these listed equipment or devices at home function automatically instead you turn it one/off or control it.
When integration of above listed devices is done through a logical manner using different senors then your home can turn into smart home.
What makes Home a “Smart Home”?
To turn your home into smart home you need to know about six basic components of Smart Home.
- Controls or Terminals
- Smart Home Gateway
Smart Home – Controls / Terminals
To understand smart home controls you need to first understand the controls that you are already aware of. For instance, You are using controls in your home every day, for example remote control to control your TV or STB, similarly Light Switch to Turn on and Turn off the light, Air Cooling or Heating System Remote to control the heating and Cooling and similarly many controls at your home.
But here you are manually controlling all the equipment or your home, though you are using remote controls but there is no automation, some remotes do have features to turn on or off the device after certain time or Air condition Remote having feature to Turn Off compressor when room temperature reaches are certain levels, there basic controls are done using sensors.
When it comes to “Smart Home Contorol” you need to think of all above listed controls whether they can talk to each other, for example can your light switch turn off the light when there is no need of light. Can your Irrigation system turns off when there is rain outside all these controls need to be smart enough to know all this. To know what controls you need to replace at home to make your home smart you need to first understand other components of smart home.
Smart Home Sensors
Sensors are able to automate the controls as listed above. There are various sensors but I will list few for the purpose of understanding the Smart Home.
- Environment Sensors
- Light Sensor
- Temperature Sensor
- Humidity Sensor
- Noise Sensor
- Motion Sensor
- Presence Sensor
- Smoke Sensor
- Gas Sensor
- Air Quality Sensor
- Weather Forecast
- Time and Time Zone
Why you needs all above sensors (There are many more not listed above)? You need them all because these sensors will automatically control the listed controls without you controlling them.
I have intentionally not explained controls in first component but will explain the controls in this section with sensors as you will understand through logical examples.
Don’t confuse it with the weather forecast, this sensor is purely related to the environment of your home for example if you want to know the temperature of your kitchen and you want to see if kids room light is on or if there is anyone in the living room. So this sensor will help detect / sense all that. And will automatically trigger the controls. For example if temperature increases in room and at the same time room has some noise Cooling system should turn on, and So on.
Below sensors are sometimes available seperately depending upon the need and in some cases as a single sensor. When chosesing the sensors it is important to first understand your home and needs. May be at some places you only need the Light sensor not so you don’t need to buy complete environment sensor for that. So environment sensor has below subsets;
- Light Sensor – Detects the light level, for example if you configure it in such a way that if the room light level after a certain time of night is increased it must trigger some control. Or for example if you are on vacation and room light level increases at night then you must get the photo or your room.
- Temperature Sensor – Detects the temperature of the area where it is placed
- Humidity Sensor : If humidity level increases then the fan should turn on.
- Noise Sensor: Will help you to know that there is someone in surrounding. Motion sensor and pretense sensor also detect in similar way but functions differently.
This sensor will detect the motion for example motion in corridor, staircase ,passage, gate, etc. There are two type of sensors Indoor Motion Sensor and outdoor Motion sensor. These sensors will detect the motion and will help you to trigger some control and then the control will come back to normal position after some time. For example, if someone walks in passage area, the light will turn on and then the light will turn off after 5 minutes.
This sensor is sometimes confused with Motion Senor, but this is in fact differnet from motion sensor, becuase motion sensor will detect the motion and will bring the control to normal position after certain time, but presence senor will monitor if the person is in a certain area for example. If you have entered into store room light will automatically turn on and till the time you are in that room light will remain on (Not just light whatever control is configured with this sensor it will trigger them based on configuration)
If smoke is detected it can do certain actions for example turn on alarm system. Send SMS to related parties for help (Done via configration in Gateway)
Can detect the gas leakage and can trigger the controls.
Air Quality Sensor
Detects the Quality of Oxygen in Air (It has saved many human lives)
This also works as sensors as weather forecast is configured in gateway and then the data can trigger many devices. For example, if there is rain the irrigation system will not turn on.
Sun and Time is a sensor
Sun rise, sun set, Dusk/Dawn and Time and Time Zone all can help to trigger various controls, mainly lightings outside the house where just time is not sufficient. Because, sunrise and sunset timings are not same every day and similarly weather condition can also reduce the light level during the day so these multiple sensor can trigger the controls as configured.
Either it is location or your home or your location via smart home, your home will know your location and based on your location it can trigger the controls. For example, if you are within 500 meters radius of your home, the certain device will remain turned on otherwise it will turn off.
Smart home devices can use any number of protocols, such as Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Wireless USB, Z-Wave, and ZigBee. Google also develops two open source protocols, called Weave and Thread.
These protocols make the communication possible between sensors and controls, third party application and devices including Amazon Echo, Google Assistant, Siri, Cortana etc.
Smart Home – Gateway
Gateway helps to integrate all the controls, sensors, External Apps and Devices too. This works as a server which recieve/sends signals from/to Sensors and controls. The data can either be stored in cloud or in gateway.
Wired and Wireless Communication is possible between all the sensors. Legacy system where wires are required. Special BUS Cables needs to run through the home to make the communication between the devices possible. But using new protocols as mentioned above there is mainly no need to run the cables, so existing homes with no provision of Smart Home can also be turned to smart home.
Scenario is a logical way of configuring the devices as explained in Sensors section with examples. There are many applicaitons that can help you to understand for example IFTTT (If this then that) which helps you to create logic. Using IFTTT you can make many scenarios. Similarly most of Smart Home Gateway has built in IFTTT features in their proprietary software and app.
Scene is the sequence of actions. For example
Scene :Move Time
- Turn on TV and STB
- After 10 seconds dim lights to 50%
- After 10 seconds Turn on Latest Netflix movie
- Dim Lights to 5%
- Turn on Sound System
- When move timeline is at 99.9% lights level to 100%
- When Movie Finished turn off entertainment system.