Sales of Smart Home products, such as indoor cameras and smart thermostats, are growing fast. But due to complexities of installation and configuration many people are not getting the full benefits of their devices working together intelligently, and more so are put off from purchasing at all. A service solution is the answer to stop homes from lagging behind and to reap the benefits of digitisation.
Smart Home as a Service (SHaaS) ensures that the technology to control heating, security, lighting and other devices in your home is integrated, set up, supported and maintained to provide real benefits in terms of comfort, security, peace of mind and ease of living without requiring deep technical or DIY skills.
It is part of the growing movement to wrap services around products to ensure that users do not have to worry about understanding the technical details of getting devices to work together or be concerned about ensuring products continue to operate smoothly or of keeping them up to date. Instead customers focus simply on using products in the way that brings them the most benefits for their needs, even as these needs evolve.
SHaaS provides solutions to overcome the barriers that are holding many people back from investing in devices that make their home smarter:
- integration of different devices to create one system where the various sensors and controllers work together intelligently
- ability of users easily to configure systems to learn and respond to their requirements
- professional installation, configuration and setup completed quickly and efficiently which avoids the need to struggle with DIY and learn the configuration process by trial and error
- regular maintenance, support and upgrades so that the systems keep operating smoothly and adapt to changing circumstances.
It is these features that provide the “Smart” in Smart Home.
“….connected home devices themselves are not smart. What makes them smart is the ability for them to share data, to be able to use a single sensor for multiple services, and for the service to do more than just act as a remote control or remote alert system.” (Wireless Design mag)
The evolution of Smart Home
To see why the time has now come for Smart Home as a Service let’s have a look at the key elements of home automation and the technology used, from its beginnings through where it is now and then looking at what we can expect over in the near future
Beginnings of the Smart Home (1960s onwards)
Standalone devices reduce manual work. Some programming
● Security systems with control panels and buttons, some connected by phone to remote monitoring
● Heating systems controlled by a central thermostat
● Motors and switches for blinds and windows
● Stand-alone domestic appliances (washers, driers, fridges, ovens) with simple electronic timers and programmes
● Audio and TV with remote controls
● Development of Z-Wave and ZigBee communications protocols for connecting devices
● Internet connectivity for computers
The Smart Home Today
Integration and the rise of voice assistance
● (Fairly reliable) Internet access for tablets, phones and intelligent devices via Wi-Fi, 3/4G and Ethernet
● Affordable security cameras, motion sensors, lighting, music (e.g. Sonos)
● Proprietary hubs / competing ecosystems for controlling intelligent devices
● Multiple mobile phone apps
● Connectivity in high-end appliances
● Amazon Alexa, Google Home, Apple Siri, Microsoft Cortana for voice automation
The Future Smart Home
Homes that think for you using AI and machine learning to anticipate and respond to needs
● Control of all devices from one app and/or hub
● Automatic device settings based on taught preferences, presence, calendars, environment, alerts, external information (weather, breaking news)
● Manual setting via manual or advanced voice control (context sensitive, conversational)
● Intelligent connected appliances at mainstream prices
● Totally reliable communications
● Growth of services such as security. Privacy, environmental audit
The rise of Smart Home as a Service
We are in a transition phase at the moment where most home automation services are either high-end bespoke installations with monitoring and maintenance included (e.g. typical residential installs) or are affordable plug & play products with innovative technology but requiring DIY skills to install and technical mastery to set up.
Partial attempts to provide integration and service are emerging: ecosystems such as Samsung SmartThings or Vera provide the ability to incorporate products from other manufacturers; Amazon are providing service on certain products; and there is increasing demand for help from services like TaskRabbit for those who have bought smart home products.
owever the real service solutions are coming from companies like Vivint and in the US who are showing how service can be added to upgradable systems at mainstream prices. These solutions offer affordable services like installation and monitoring; they are also built round software on a hub and/or an app to which other devices can easily added.
In addition the newest services are offering more and more capability for the smart devices to interact together. They make it easy for users to set up simple chains of actions such as:
- setting the status of the home depending on who is present (using “geofencing”) e.g. when the last person leaves, the security system is automatically turned on, the lights turned off and the heating turned down
- using motion capture when the alarm is turned on to trigger not just a siren but also lights turning on or flashing
- entering a room causing the lights to turn on automatically
- allowing settings for lower temperature at night to be automatically overridden if motion capture shows someone is staying up late
- increasing heating if the weather forecast shows really cold weather is expected soon
SHaaS thus goes beyond being just a set of products to a service that provides home comfort, home security, home ambience and home entertainment.
HomeSmart service: setting up your home to think for you
At HomeSmart we are dedicated to providing home automation as a real service, one that is installed, configured, monitored, and maintained to meet your current needs and evolves to meet your changing circumstances.
Our systems put control of your security, your comfort and your environment at your fingertips; moreover the smart components act and interact to take routine decisions for you.
For example, you can set rules for changing temperature settings according to the time of day and also according to who is present. You can conserve heat while the home is empty, yet have it warmed up when people come from work or school. The temperature settings for rooms can be set individually and can vary depending on whether someone is in the room or not. Coming home earlier than expected? The systems can use “geofencing” to note that you are near and warm up the rooms.
Similarly the security system can be linked to lighting and sound. Setting the alarm could also trigger lights, music or TV to go on and off at set times to give the impression of the home being occupied. Motion capture could set lights flashing to scare away intruders or burglars.
There are many more ways in which HomeSmart components can be set up to save you worrying about routine actions (turning off appliances before leaving home, setting the alarm as the last person leaves). Your home can think for you. But you always retain overall control, with simple selections to change temperatures and turn on or off security or lighting.
HomeSmart offers better security at lower cost than traditional supplies by using the latest technology and intelligent software, and also saves you money by intelligent programming of heating systems.
Moreover the HomeSmart service provides a point of contact if there are any issues, to take away the hassle of struggling for hours or days to overcome technical problems. Maintenance contracts give continuous support, service and updates for your system to maintain and improve the benefits. There are also options for external monitoring of security systems, ensuring that there is always someone to react quickly in case of a break-in or intruder.
HomeSmart is committed to giving you more control of your home simply and easily, while saving you money on your heating bills. This leaves you the time to enjoy your enjoy your home in comfort, and to enjoy life outside it without worrying about what is happening at home.