Luxe Living Asia


Once the domain of super geeks and the super-rich, the ultra-smart home is only getting smarter, thanks to advancemen­ts in the Internet of things.


Your home is about to get a whole lot smarter

Each time you put on your AirPods to enjoy music streamed from Spotify or track your daily steps with your Fitbit, you’re tapping into the Internet of things, or IoT. On the home front, IoT is the increasing­ly common ecosystem in which web-enabled appliances and devices (the “things”) communicat­e with one another and the cloud to seamlessly carry out tasks that would otherwise need to be done manually. “Today, we can use a mobile app or smart-TV hub to set automated timers for our entrance foyer lights, set the temperatur­e for a bath or shut the window blinds. Homes can be equipped with smart irrigation, temperatur­e sensors, Wi-Fi-controlled light bulbs, voice-controlled thermostat­s that can even read the news, and home energy monitors that let you track your electricit­y and water usage in real time,” says Jeremy†Tay, co-founder and director of Singapore interior design studio Prestige Global Designs. “Home IoT enhances our living experience. As our smart products become more integrated, we’ll rely less on manual interventi­on.”

Flip a switch to turn on the lights, or start the day by turning on the coŠee maker? How mundane! Virtual assistants such as Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant allow you to control smart devices within the home via voice commands, which also replace online text searches‘ aŠordably priced Wi-Fi smart plugs easily allow “dumb” devices such as an old stereo to be controlled or automated via an app.

Automation, however, is just the beginning. The next level of IoT incorporat­es arti’cial intelligen­ce (AI), allowing smart home appliances to not only relieve you of manual tasks, but also learn your habits and preference­s, and eventually be able to perform tasks in anticipati­on of your needs. Products with AI already exist: the iRobot Roomba, for instance, can remember the layout of your home, create a map of the most e•cient movement patterns and return to its charging station when its battery is low.

AI also takes the existing “fuzzy logic” of washing machines to the next level. In September at the tech trade fair IFA 2019 in Berlin, LG announced timeand water-saving washing machines that can detect the load volume and clothing fabric type and, tapping into its cloud of big data, automatica­lly apply the best wash cycle to minimise damage to the clothes. The machines can also be controlled using voice commands or the LG†Smart ThinQ app.

Current smart ovens, too, can recognise food and automatica­lly apply the right settings, and come with cameras that let you keep tabs on, say, how that roast is doing. A new concept oven by Whirlpool will project recipe suggestion­s with video instructio­ns on the oven door based on family preference­s as well as how much time everyone has for dinner (it syncs with their calendars)‘ it’ll also reorganise recipe steps so diŠerent dishes can get prepped, cooked (on the appropriat­e oven shelf) and then plated at the same†time.

Gone are the days when you end up throwing out expired food because you bought more than the family needs. Smart fridges have inbuilt cameras to let you visually take stock‘ some track food’s expiry dates and even suggest recipes – and set other smart devices such as the oven –†based on ingredient­s inside the fridge. Samsung’s Family Hub Smart Fridge also retrieves shopping lists shared by diŠerent members of the family, and groceries and food deliveries are but a few taps on a touchscree­n away. Other bonuses: answer a phone call, converse with someone at your front door, and even mirror your Samsung TV on the fridge’s screen so you’re not left out if you’re cooking up a storm as the rest of the family catches the new episode of The Walking Dead.

With beacon technology, your smartwatch or smartphone, or a miniature Bluetooth tag that you can attach to, say, your bedroom slippers, enables high-level customisat­ion of a home’s spaces to individual preference­s – for instance, changing the setting of the air conditione­r, dimming the lights and turning on music when you step into a room.

What we’ll soon see more of at home, thanks to IoT, are applicatio­ns for healthcare and wellness, security, taking inventory, home-based learning and

sustainabi­lity. The 5G rollout will only accelerate the capabiliti­es, with faster connectivi­ty to handle the huge volumes of data from smart devices.

The innovative Allblanc Mirror Fit displays workout videos and lets you attend live ’tness classes. In wearable devices, AI-enabled biometric trackers and fall detectors can help give the elderly as well as patients with chronic diseases such as asthma – and their family members – greater peace of mind.

Home systems can send push noti’cations when the kids are safely home, or if a tap or device is left running (and allow you to shut it oŠ remotely). Existing smart sensors and microphone­s can alert homeowners – and their security ’rms or emergency services – to gas or water leakages and even the sound of breaking glass or smoke detectors going oŠ.

While predictive maintenanc­e is more widely applied in industrial contexts now, it’s only a matter of time before it becomes commonplac­e for manufactur­ers to monitor and analyse data regarding the condition of your home appliances. So, instead of servicing your air-conditioni­ng system every three months regardless of necessity, a house call will be arranged only as required. This helps prevent annoying breakdowns and cuts maintenanc­e costs.

Bosch has developed a BML100PI projection module that enables manufactur­ers to create interactiv­e smart shelves – whether in a fridge, a storage solution, a kitchen pantry or a wardrobe. With gesture and touch recognitio­n, and used with a digital-assistant extension, it can take an inventory of the contents, pencil in a supermarke­t run on your calendar or show online shopping options if pantry supplies are low, make out’t recommenda­tions based on the weather forecast, and so on.

A sophistica­ted, well-planned IoT-enabled home can also boost a property’s resale value. According to Hazriq Surattee, founder of smart home consultanc­y Digital Homes Group, anyone designing a new home should future-proof their properties by laying Cat8 instead of Cat5e/Cat6 cables. He also suggests including more Cat8 Internet cables to allow for future IoT expansion and scalabilit­y, adding that it’s crucial to ensure that all your devices from diŠerent brands can be controlled from a single home automation ecosystem such as Control4.

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