The home of the future
How sensor fusion will shape the Smart Home.
By Cees Links, CEO, GreenPeak Technologies
The evolution towards the smart home and the day when sensors truly integrate intelligence with your house and your smart phone is well on its way. This process has been in progress for many years and can be broken down into three phases:
The Connected Home, The Smart Home, and The Really Smart
and Intelligent Home.
The Connected Home has been around for years. Dominated
by DIYs, and system integrators, this sector consisted of a wide
range of home automation devices that didn’t talk amongst themselves, used individual remote and management solutions, and
required a good level of technical expertise to make the system
The Smart Home is happening now as various systems providers roll out solutions that can monitor and control a variety
of in-home sensing and control systems via a connection to the
internet and a smart phone. These include home security, health
monitoring, lighting, energy and environmental management
(heating and AC), and many others.
The Really Smart Home — the intelligent home — is when intelligence links together the network of sensors. That essentially
enables the house to learn how the inhabitants live and respond
to it without a human being in the loop to make decisions. The
recent Google acquisition of Nest is a good indication of that
Currently, most homes have about ten Wi-Fi devices in them,
including laptops, smart phones, streaming TVs, gaming devices, tablets, etc. In the near future, we expect to see a hundred or
more sentroller devices in each home — these include the actual
sensors, as well as controllers and actuators that activate devices.
All of these sensors can connect to the internet via a local hub
and can be monitored, programmed, and controlled by a web
connected device (i.e. a smart phone or tablet.)
Imagine the house full of sensors — motion, temperature,
position — all talking among each other and having intelligence
to make decisions. For example, when the home is empty during
the middle of the day, a movement might activate a motion sensor. Realizing that no one should be in the home, it sends out a
security alarm. However, in the late afternoon, as the residents
arrive home, the sensor knows this motion is appropriate and can
activate the right environmental system, like turning on the heat,
and activating music and entertainment systems. In the middle of
the night, recognizing someone stirring from their bed, this very
same motion sensor turns on lights, safely guiding the resident to
the kitchen so they can get a midnight snack.
Suppose you are on a trip with your family, and you suddenly
realize that you may not have locked the back door. Yes, there are
some connected and Smart Home technologies that enable you to
check the locks and remotely lock the house. But wouldn’t it be
smarter for your house to recognize it was empty and lock all of
the doors and windows?
Family Lifestyle Systems
A Smart Home Family Lifestyle System is a network of sensors
connected to the internet that can be monitored and controlled
from within the house or remotely via a smart phone. A cloud-based application connects all the sentrollers, regularly collects
all of the data in the home from each device, and then learns the
normal patterns in the home.
The system can learn things. For example, when do people get
up in the morning? How much energy are they consuming, when,
and from which appliances? When do the residents leave and
come back? Where are the people in the house and do they need
The list is endless. The Family Lifestyle application learns what
is “normal”, and also recognizes what is not normal.
In a way, a Family Lifestyle System is also a social media application. It can inform family members and friends about your
whereabouts, or send alerts for specific or concerning situations.
It can create a social environment where people feel safer and
more secure, because their physical life is seamlessly interconnected with their social media life and communications.
A Family Lifestyle System includes an app on the smart phone
that integrates the capability of having the phone’s owner inter-
The new Really Smart Home ecosystem includes a network of controllers talking to one another via ZigBee, other communication technologies (like Wi-Fi and Bluetooth), a connection to the web and cloud
based intelligence, and smart phones to monitor and manage the
system. (Image Credit: Greenpeak)