The Truly Smart Home: Moving Beyond Connected Devices

By David G. Brenner, Smart Home Business Development, Intel Corporation 

As the trend toward the Internet of Things and more connected devices in the house continues to accelerate, it’s not just consumers who are trying to understand how to make their devices work together in order to really make their homes smarter. Service providers, Public Utility Commissions (PUCs) and government organizations are also hard at work to understand how to work with and leverage this new technology, and bring new services and capabilities to their customers and subscribers.

In July, I had an opportunity to meet with leaders in the energy generation and distribution industry. The topic was focused on how these companies can understand the technologies and capabilities of the modern connected home and how to identify the services customers need to move from simply connected to establishing a truly smart home.  Ultimately, bringing these connected devices together in an intelligent and controlled manner can help these service providers, PUCs and city planners better manage growing supply and demand challenges– from power and water to physical and personal security – and improve how they provide and distribute these resources more efficiently.

Today, devices in the home are typically connected to some form of central smart hub, allowing the user to more easily interact with them such as through their smart phone; however, this is just the first step in building a smart home. The challenge to make homes truly smart lies with not just connecting the devices to the cloud or phone, but connecting them to and with each other in a way that improves the responsiveness, capability and scalability of all of these devices both for consumers as well as the  providers who deliver and manage smart home services for the user.

A truly smart home must go beyond simple automation or remote control of the devices and sensors therein; rather, through the addition of standards, cognition, video/voice and AI, these connected devices can combine and cooperate to deliver the perceptive, responsive, and autonomous home.   These connected devices combine to become an intelligent system, receiving and responding to data from other devices, and then taking actions that ease the task of running a home.  Working together, these can provide an experience that enriches daily life without direct involvement from the consumer.

For example, a home automated cleaner encounters a large puddle from a ruptured pipe. Although it responds by avoiding the area and continues cleaning, it does nothing more while the puddle continues to expand. In a smart home scenario, the cleaner could communicate with both a security system (which remembers you’re away) to send an alert, as well as the local water utility; in the meantime, a smart valve controller can shut down the water and the city meter can verify that there are no further leaks at that time.  Not only would this save natural resources, more importantly it would also save home owners and insurance companies from the potential of thousands of dollars in home repair costs.

These kinds of experiences are highly desired both by utilities themselves to more efficiently manage the demand side of their services but also as a path to monetize since the results of such smart home services can have a significant financial benefit for the consumer, the insurance company, the utility and other organizations in the ecosystem.

The Open Connectivity Foundation is helping create the standards that easily connect devices in the home to each other, and also helping establish the connections in a way that allow these devices to become responsive and autonomous. Through this connected, smart and adaptive network of devices, smart homes will improve our daily lives, protect natural resources, and deliver on the full promise of the IoT.

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