The idea of a Connected or a Smart Home is not a new one. A number of recent developments make it a great space to focus on building solutions to everyday life. Viable entries in this category will provide solutions in the areas of Media and Entertainment, Community and Collaboration, Health and Wellness and Home Automation & Monitoring. Entries in this categories can address new solutions or re-imagine existing solutions with a new view with the new technology and processes that are available. While the technologies are numerous & advanced, significant challenges remain with effective Integration, Service Delivery and Usability. Entries should focus on addressing the same.
The rapid growth of mobile devices and the focus of mobile technologies on bandwidth, coupled with the ubiquitousness of the Internet has led to a Connected Home – a completely networked home enabled with devices to collect and report data that allows for the delivery of services into the home over the Internet. With mobile devices being the single point of control, these services can be managed and operated locally and remotely.
Technologies such as Bluetooth, wi-fi, NFC, Zigbee, Zwave have progressed the various efforts towards a Connected Home. To successfully build a connected home, the focus should not lean on aggregating the various services present in the home but rather on building a fully integrated platform that will enable the deployment of current services as well as next generation solutions. The keys to a Connected Home are 1. The application or service should use the appropriate technology to effect communication between devices from multiple manufacturers 2. Critical to making the services viable is Usability. Users must have a familiar and intuitive interface and methodology to control and manage a wide variety of devices and services. 3. The service that is created should have a viable model for being productized – installation, deployment, support, billing and sales.
Focus Area & Use Cases
Working towards a connected home is centered in the following areas –
Media & Entertainment
This has been a time-honored tradition for many a user. Mobile devices and technology can surpass the existing paradigms of universal remotes and the “Clapper” to manage your entertainment services and household devices. When control is driven by the Home ecosystem, users will have much more customizability as well as flexibility. How can an Home Media system to play age appropriate content depending on audience tracking? Non intrusive tracking of the audience. Voice recognition of participants is one possible method. Playlist content management based on personalization Personal Media – how its available and making it easier to curate, catalog, retrieve & share content.
Community and Collaboration
A connected home can help improve the community and collaboration How can a Connected Home enables families to communicate better? How does the technology enable grandparents communicate better with their families? What will a connected home version of a social network (Facebook) look like? Can a connected home help monitor community tasks such as feeding the pets? How can connected homes collaborate to improve the community they are located in? Locate missing children, pets? Automated Local notification of Emergencies and Alerts? Gaming has matured as a platform in itself. How can gaming interface with a connected home to improve collaboration?
Home Automation and Monitoring
Home security is a multi-billion dollar market. With the increasing levels of connectivity in the home, more service providers such as carriers and MSO’s are focused on providing home security services. How can the mobile device access as a control point for managing the home security services? Can IP cameras and their feeds be consolidated and collated to provide relevant monitoring data? How to identify every entry point into the home and its status – i.e not just report that a door is open, but that the screen door from the porch to the backyard is open and how long it has been open? Can mobile devices replace the traditional door peephole to authenticate and authorize entry into the home? How can inhabitants of the home be tracked non-intrusively? Parents would like to know when kids leave the house or if they are back from school on time. Mobile devices with built in GPS provide presence information that can plug into a home’s networked eco-system. Mobile devices are also the most efficient alerting mechanism – Users can be notified – via SMS or automated calls - that their house has been broken into, and to not go home until notified by the Police. Can all lights in a specific room be shut off or dimmed with a single gesture? Can devices report on maintenance – HVAC reports loss in cooling or that the filter needs replacing by active monitoring? Can you be notified that you are out of milk on the way home from work? Energy Management is becoming a focal point in many minds as the world turns more green. Consumers are becoming more eco-friendly in their thinking. Coupled with the practical reasons of wanting lower energy and water consumption bills, a connected home can lead to a more efficient home. Service providers have a wealth of information regarding usage – both personalized as well aggregate information from the community. This can be leveraged very easily by a connected home ecosystem to adjust and manage behavior. Can a home detect that all inhabitants have left the house and automatically adjust the thermostat to more efficient levels? Conversely can a home detect via a GeoFence that a user is 15 minutes away from the home and readjust the thermostat to more comfortable levels? Can a home monitor for water leaks in the house and alert an user as well as notify plumbing services? Can a home monitor occupancy levels and adjust heating/cooling those appropriate levels – eg: turn off zoned heating to 2nd floor is there has been no occupants there for more than 30 minutes?
Health and Wellness
In addition to the above areas of interest, a Connected Home is truly valuable in collecting and reporting data on its occupants and its activities. This makes the Home a critical component to one of the CIC’s other categories – Connected Life. How can a Connected Home monitor and report on its user behavior? Is the elderly occupant awake and mobile? Has the pills been taken by a sick inhabitant? Tracking occupants and their activities allows for technology to enable Aging in the Home, as well as managing Health and Wellness for the Elderly and the disabled.