Transform the Smart House into the Smart Home
Sentrollers and web intelligence enable families to live safer, more secure, and more energy-efficient lives
By Cees Links
What do consumers really want from the Smart Home? More than a bunch of connected devices that can be accessed and controlled over the web. Instead, they are looking for a complete solution – a smart service that combines an assortment of connected devices to control home security, HVAC and heating, lighting, entertainment, etc. with what we call Family Lifestyle.
Consumers want an easy to install, easy to use solution that provides their family with safety, comfort, and efficiency. They want a solution that uses a single web accessible dashboard, not a bunch of remote controls and separate online management web pages. They want it all to be managed online from a web connected laptop, tablet or smart phone, from anywhere in the world they can get online. They also want a system that is smart enough to alert them to problems – and provide solutions.
The new GreenPeak Family@Home provides security, comfort and safety for the family, as well as improves household efficiency and energy management. By combining a network of sentrollers (sensors, controls, and actuators) with web intelligence, GreenPeak aims to transform the smart house into the Smart Home.
We are proposing a Smart Home Butler who knows how a home should be managed. Instead of just sending alerts and notifications to the homeowners, it actually has enough intelligence to know how the house should run. In addition, the Family@Home solution learns how that particular family functions, their schedules and their likes and dislikes, and then, as time progresses, is able to customize the home’s environment to meet their needs.
For example, if the residents usually come home around 5pm, the house is smart enough to recognize the outdoor climate, and then to adjust the indoor temperature to a comfortable zone.
Other capabilities include the ability to conserve energy and make the home environment more energy efficient. For example, if the homeowner deliberately leaves the windows open to get a breeze, and then a storm blows in, the system is smart enough to close the windows and turn on the heating. If the water heater springs a leak, instead of continuing to waste energy by warming water and then spilling it all over the floor, the system is smart enough turn off the water supply, stop the gas or power, and to send out an alert for a plumber.
There are a variety of energy management systems already in place in many homes. However, all they do is monitor the energy consumption. It is up the home owner to go online or access some kind of dashboard, to assess power use and then decide upon a course of action. Wouldn’t it be better for the smart energy management system to constantly monitor energy usage, compare it to the resident’s activity and location in the home, and then send a recommendation to the home owner to turn off one or more appliances?
For example, suppose the kids were busy playing in a room, with the lights on bright and the entertainment system blasting. Sensors in the room can alert the Family@Home system that kids have left, that nobody is in the room, and that the kids have went outside to play, and then the system is smart enough to turn off the lights and entertainment.
Consider modern day senior citizens who prefer to live independently. A small network of sensors could monitor their movements throughout the house and learn how they live. What time do they usually get up, when do they make breakfast, when do they leave the house and when do they usually return? This network of sensors can learn this pattern, and if suddenly there is disruption, an alert can be sent to the senior’s children or caregivers. Even more impressive, by using sophisticated analysis, the system can recognize slow changes in the senior’s behavior and then notify the right people. Maybe they are taking much too long to move from one room to another. Or they are not leaving the house anymore even though it is a beautiful spring day outside. The system is smart enough to recognize these subtle lifestyle changes and can send an alert.
The new Smart Home is coming. No longer just a collection of internet connected devices, the new smart home is, in many ways, a living and evolving organism, that can help us live our lives healthier and safer. And by providing a smarter, “greener” and more efficient home environment, we also save money on energy.
Cees Links is the founder and CEO of GreenPeak. He was instrumental in establishing the IEEE 802.15 standardization committee to become the basis for the ZigBee sense and control networking. He may be reached at www.greenpeak.com.