HOME SMART HOME

Us­ing sim­ple so­lu­tions and the In­ter­net of Things (IoT), you can now smarten up your homes.

Gadgets and Gizmos (India) - - FRONT PAGE - By Nidhi Sin­gal

Once an ahead-of-its-time idea, the In­ter­net of Things is, today, smarten­ing up our liv­ing rooms and kitchens. Here are sim­ple so­lu­tions to turn your home into a ‘smart home’.

Imag­ine a life where you don’t have to move an inch to op­er­ate de­vices; when home ap­pli­ances can read your mind and the smart­phone be­comes the re­mote con­trol for your home. The In­ter­net of Things (IoT) is mak­ing this pos­si­ble by al­low­ing ob­jects to be sensed and con­trolled re­motely across an ex­ist­ing net­work in­fras­truc­ture. Con­nected de­vices can be ac­cessed us­ing a smart­phone or a PC app. IoT is not just restricted to In­ter­net and Wi-Fi; there are around 11 IoT pro­to­cols such as Blue­tooth and Near Field Com­mu­ni­ca­tion (NFC) that have been iden­ti­fied. Al­though still ahead of its time, IoTen­abled prod­ucts are mak­ing a splash in the fol­low­ing cat­e­gories.

LIGHT­ING: This is one of the ear­li­est mar­kets to have ush­ered in IoT. The Phillips Hue ex­em­pli­fies IoT per­fectly. Its starter kit in­cludes three LED colour-changing bulbs along with a wire­less bridge that con­nects to the router us­ing a LAN ca­ble. Us­ing the Phillips Hue app, the bulbs can be paired and con­trolled. With a sin­gle tap on the phone, the colours can be changed and up to 50 bulbs can be con­trolled from a sin­gle bridge. Based on ZigBee, a low-power, safe and re­li­able tech­nol­ogy to con­trol lights, the Hue sys­tem can be eas­ily in­te­grated with other ZigBee-based sys­tems for ad­di­tional home au­to­ma­tion. Al­though the starter kit costs `16,995, start-up Cube 26 of­fers a sim­i­lar smart­phone-con­trolled, light-changing LED bulb for `1,899. IOTA Lite is a 500-lu­men bulb with Blue­tooth 4.0 that pairs with the IOTA Lite over an app. Us­ing the app, you can change colours and bright­ness, and select the light to sync with mu­sic. Syska, too, has launched an app-con­trolled wire­less light­ing with ‘three mil­lion shades in one’, avail­able for `1,999. Lutron, known for en­ergy- sav­ing, wire­less light­ing and shade con­trol so­lu­tions, of­fers cus­tomis­able so­lu­tions (`2.5 lakh on­wards) that al­low you to con­trol the light­ing, blinds and HVAC (heat­ing, ven­ti­lat­ing and air con­di­tion­ing) in your house at the click of a but­ton.

SMART PLUG SOCK­ETS: It’s not easy to re­place lights, ther­mostats or home ap­pli­ances just for the sake of an ad­di­tional fea­ture of con­trol­ling them through smart­phones; the costs at­tached to this are high. But there are in­tel­li­gent so­lu­tions, such as Belkin’s WeMo (`4,306), a Wi-Fien­abled smart switch (de­signed as per in­ter­na­tional spec­i­fi­ca­tions) that plugs into the tra­di­tional socket avail­able in the mar­ket. Con­nect­ing your de­vice us­ing WeMo (which con­nects to a home Wi-Fi net­work), al­lows you to con­trol (on/off) it through the WeMo app. It even mon­i­tors elec­tron­ics and sends en­ergy us­age de­tails on the smart­phone. It can pair with ACs, TVs, wash­ers, dry­ers and lights. D-Link’s DSP-W215 (`2,845) is also a home smart plug that works on sim­i­lar lines. Its ther­mal sen­sor helps pre­vent the plug from over­heat­ing. Oak­ter and Pert, both In­di­a­based, pro­vide sim­i­lar so­lu­tions. Oak­ter of­fers a kit (`10,000) com­pris­ing Wi-Fi Hub, 6-AMP and 16-AMP plugs, a smart ther­mo­stat duo with plug for AC and a wire­less switch­board. Pert, priced at `5,999, uses your home’s wire­less net­work to give you com­plete con­trol over switches and ap­pli­ances by au­tomat­ing the switch­board.

SE­CU­RITY: With the help of IoTen­abled watch­ers and home so­lu­tions, you can mon­i­tor your home and fam­ily when you are away. You can have an in­di­vid­ual cam­era mounted on the front door or a multi-cam­era sys­tem in­stalled. In­ter­net-en­abled se­cu­rity so­lu­tions not only no­tify you of un­usual move­ments, but also al­low you to watch a live stream on

smart­phone or desk­top. Mo­torola has a range of home mon­i­tor­ing sys­tems of which the Fo­cus85 (`8,990) is a Wi-Fi-en­abled out­door unit that sends mo­tion alert and comes with in­fra-red night vi­sion. It can cap­ture im­ages as well as videos, and can re­mote-pan, zoom and tilt. Us­ing the Hub­ble app, one can also mon­i­tor the cam­era on a smart­phone, tablet or com­puter. The com­pany of­fers Wi-Fi-en­abled baby mon­i­tors, too. Evoxyz Evotag (`1,399) is a Blue­tooth track­ing de­vice that works with a com­pan­ion app in­stalled on your smart­phone. It sends an alert on your smart­phone on de­tect­ing a se­cu­rity in­tru­sion and helps in lo­cat­ing keys, lug­gage and pets.

HOME AP­PLI­ANCES: The Con­sumer Elec­tron­ics Show held in Las Ve­gas saw quite a few smart home ap­pli­ances be­ing launched. Sam­sung launched a smart re­frig­er­a­tor with em­bed­ded cam­eras that alert you when some­thing is about to get spoilt. LG launched the Twin Wash wash­ing machine that en­ables two sep­a­rate loads at the same time, and is Wi-Fi and NFC-en­abled. Maid, launched by start-up Sec­torCube, is a smart mi­crowave oven that knows what to cook and how. Con­nected to a siz­able recipe store on the In­ter­net, it learns your calo­rie re­quire­ments and de­liv­ers per­son­alised recipe sug­ges­tions. While none of these are avail­able in In­dia yet, we are surely catch­ing up.

Blueair’s Sense+, a smart air mon­i­tor­ing and pu­rifi­ca­tion sys­tem avail­able in In­dia for `39,990, elim­i­nates air­borne germs, chem­i­cals and other harm­ful par­ti­cles. It can be con­trolled and mon­i­tored via Blueair’s Sense+ app. The Wi-Fi-en­abled pu­ri­fier col­lects data from mul­ti­ple sources in each city and, de­pend­ing upon the us­age, sug­gests when to change the fil­ter. Video­con, too, had launched a range of 5-star BEE-rated Wi-Fi split ACs in In­dia (`35,990 on- wards) and cre­ated cus­tom soft­ware that al­lows ACs to be op­er­ated us­ing the An­droid App. Its ‘Away Mode’ tracks the smart­phone’s cur­rent lo­ca­tion and turns the AC on/off au­to­mat­i­cally. Its weather feed fea­ture tracks the am­bi­ent tem­per­a­ture and sets the AC tem­per­a­ture ac­cord­ingly. Vac­uum clean­ing com­pany iRobot is launch­ing Roomba 980, priced at `69,900, which is Wi-Fi en­abled and can be con­trolled and pro­grammed us­ing the Roomba mo­bile app. LG, too, has launched its Rolling Bot – a home mon­i­tor­ing and pet en­ter­tain­ment sys­tem – in In­dia. Most print­ers avail­able in the mar­ket from HP, Ep­son and Canon sup­port wire­less print­ing – you can print wire­lessly by email­ing the doc­u­ment to be printed to the printer di­rectly. Even speak­ers are turn­ing smart. Ac­ces­sories such as Chrome­cast Au­dio (`3,999) can con­vert your good old tra­di­tional speaker into a wire­less one.

There are a few other ad­vanced so­lu­tions that have been launched abroad. Ama­zon’s Echo, an Alex­aen­abled (cloud-based) hands-free speaker that al­lows voice con­trol, is one such. Echo con­nects to the Alexa Voice Ser­vice to play mu­sic, pro­vide in­for­ma­tion, news, sports scores and weather, in­stantly. It can con­trol light switches as well as or­der a pizza for you. Google Home Speaker is be­ing built on the same lines. Sam­sung’s Smart Hub and Ap­ple Home Kit, too, are fo­cused to­wards IoT-en­abled smart homes. Ama­zon Dash, a small, wire­lessen­abled but­ton, is an ex­am­ple. It makes shop­ping and re­order­ing stuff sim­ple. When con­nected de­vices run low on sup­plies – for in­stance, if your wash­ing machine is low on de­ter­gent – Dash will au­to­mat­i­cally or­der them from Ama­zon. An­other ex­am­ple is that of MESH, a DIY kit com­pris­ing small, wire­less tags that can be at­tached to any phys­i­cal ob­ject to make them smarter, us­ing the MESH app.

Belkin WeMo

Mo­torola Fo­cus85

Blueair Sense+ Air Pu­ri­fier

Philips Hue

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