Jun 22 2020
Teresa van Dam

Problems with current “smart” homes

For a truly smart home experience, home automation is needed. Home automation allows your home to do things for you automatically, based on your desires. So why do we need home automation and how is this possible?

A truly smart home

Some of us have heard hundreds of possibilities to switch or dim lights via an app on our smartphone. However, the use of the smartphone can actually slow down stuff. Why? Well, first of all you need to grab your phone, then unlock it with a password, some digits, drawing pattern, or your beautiful face. After this, you need to look for the given smart home app, open it, and then look for the room and/or light(s) that you wish to turn on/off or dim, and finally you tap that “magic” button in the app to accomplish your goal. Yay!? That doesn’t sound smart at all right? The same problem occurs when we use a virtual assistant instead. At the end you have to switch the lights yourself, or you have to tell your virtual assistant to do it for you. Another example that shows us that our home is not really smart is when we add some fancy color lights that are said to be “smart”. However, the magic comes to an end when our normal switches do not work anymore.

Of course the situations mentioned above are not showing what a real smart home is about. For that, we need to include home automation. This means that among other things, our house needs to be able to turn the lights on/off by itself according to our preferences and only when some conditions are fulfilled. This is possible to do when we use a home automation scenario.

Scenarios for home automation

You can automate your home, by creating scenarios. A scenario can be seen as a recipe for your house. It is a set of rules that your house will follow and react to. Such rules are very simple to create. You only need to do this once and will benefit from them for years! Each of us have different desires and needs. For example, some people like to be in a room with bright lights, nice music in the background and at a temperature of 18°C. However, some others might prefer a more quiet room with less bright lights and at a warmer temperature. There are four factors that your home needs to make it a truly smart home: Your preference combined with a specific time, place and presence. Those four factors together create a scenario.

Nowadays, there are many devices available that can help you with the first ingredient: preferences. If we want to buy some fancy lights or some color lights for our parties, then we can search online and see an enormous range of possibilities. That’s not a problem, of course! For the second ingredient, the time, we can think of it not only as an exact moment (i.e. at 6:00 am, at sunset, on Mondays, in the weekends…), but also as a trigger event. For example, when saying: “Hey Google, do this…”, “Alexa, do that…”, or simply by getting our phone to manually turn on/off something. Here, we see already a contrast with automation. To perform an action through a voice assistant is more cumbersome than the lights turning on automatically when it is getting dark.

Now, let’s go to the third and fourth ingredient: place and presence. Think about turning on the lights in a room only if someone is present, or turning off the lights in a room when no one is in there. For this we might have heard of some motion sensors that turn on the lights when movement is detected, but here comes a problem… If no further movement is detected, then the lights will turn off. Keeping moving is not always possible when we are under a warm blanket watching TV or peacefully reading a book, or for instance when we are doing our needs in the bathroom, and especially if the sensor is at a certain height which is not possible to reach even if we extend our arm as much as we can… I know it sounds worrying, but let’s keep calm because Crownstone has the solution for this!

A truly smart home

How does Crownstone contribute to home automation?

Crownstones have the ability to detect when someone enters or leaves a specific room, or when someone is or is not in the house. This is possible because of Crownstone’s secret ingredient: indoor positioning, which means that Crownstones can immediately react upon your presence. Thanks to this unique characteristic, you would be able not only to turn on and off your lights by entering or leaving a room, but also to switch off energy-hungry devices automatically when you leave a room and they don’t need to be on. This is what is called home automation: when the user does not need to press a button of a remote control to turn something on or off, when the user does not need to create the perfect atmosphere every time with an App on his smartphone, or when the user does not need to tell the virtual assistant every time to turn the lights on when entering a room and it is dark outside.

Creating a scenario for your smart home

Imagine that you are on your couch reading a book. After some time of pleasant reading, the light of the sun won’t be enough for you to be able to go further with the next pages. In a “dumb” home you would have to interrupt your reading, and get to the wallswitch to turn on the lights. In a “semi” smart home you would have to either grab your phone and open an App to manually turn your lights on or say something like: “Hey, Google turn on the lights in the living room” or “Alexa, turn on lights”. However, in a real smart home, you don’t have to do that! You can just simply create an scenario such as the following:

  • Preference: turn on the reading lamp at 80% and the other lamps at 50%
  • Time: 1 hour before sunset
  • Place: in the living room
  • Presence: if someone is in the room

Good, welcome to home automation! That is how scenarios can be created specially for your home. In the previous scenario each and every element is vital for it to work. You can clearly see that without the presence factor, it does not have the same effect, why would your lights be turned on if no one is in the room? Of course it doesn’t make sense! In home automation, the conditionals based on presence are the key for the success of many scenarios. Those conditionals let you finetune your scenarios so they work exactly how you want to.

A truly smart home

Conclusion

Home automation is the key for a truly smart home experience. There can be many products out there that claim to provide you with that experience. However, the real experience cannot be achieved without Crownstone’s secret ingredient: indoor positioning. We just saw how important it is to include the presence awareness when making a scenario for your smart home. Crownstone provides you with the ability to create a scenario with the four characteristics: preferences, time, place and presence. It doesn’t matter if you are just starting to look for smart home solutions or if you already have some experience in the field. Crownstone will always help you with creating the scenarios you need to provide you with a truly smart home experience.

22 June 2020

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