Internet of Things: Automate Everything In Your Home


When I bought my refrigerator from a retail outlet in 2016, I did not pay much attention to the seemingly insignificant ‘smart devices’ corner at that time because that portion of the display was small with a large price.

At the time, there were just a handful of Android/iOS compatible smart devices I could see — a fridge, three LED TV sets, and a vacuum to be exact.

Not anymore!

Visit any outlet or home improvement store and you’ll know. These products are now mainstream.

Thanks to the little Wi-Fi router in your house, in which multiple appliances are now connected, the era of home automation begins.

In this article, we will discuss IoT prospects for a standard home. Let’s get started.

How Does a State-of-the-Art Home Automation System Work?

The goal is to hold everything at your fingertips and automate domestic gadgets to run with minimal effort or use of power.

An elaborate IoT setup consists of three major components:

A. IoT-Specific Hardware

To build a smart home, the hardware components can be subdivided into:

1. Control Hub: Also known as a Gateway, the centralized control hub is a device that is connected to your network router. It is the brain of an IoT automation system.

All sensors (hundreds of them) are embedded in smart appliances that talk to the Gateway. It means that you will need to install a lot of sensors in your home so that they can send and receive operating commands (data) through the Gateway.

2. Sensors: You might be surprised to learn that there could be thousands of IoT sensors present in smart appliances or installed throughout your house according to customized requirements. The following types of sensors are common for most home automation applications:

  • Light (Lux) sensors
  • Temperature sensors
  • Infrared sensors
  • Voice/Sound sensors
  • Motion sensors and video surveillance
  • Vibrations sensors
  • Ultrasonic sensors
  • Air composition, smoke and fire sensors
  • Pressure and humidity sensors
  • Water sensors

When a sensory switch is connected to a centralized control hub in your house, the control application (software) can execute the commands itself and operate on devices based on pre-set instructions.

B. Wireless Connectivity & Cloud Network

It’s how all the devices (sensors, gateways) communicate with each other and store the reference data on the cloud.

The signals between controllers and smart sensors are wirelessly exchanged via a communication protocol installed in your home.

The cloud network gives you the flexibility to access the data from anywhere and then send the operational commands to the hub from any remote location whenever necessary.

The purpose of a cloud-connected gateway in any home automation systems is to:

i. Collect the data from all sensors for cloud synchronization

ii. Automatically run multiple devices by sending signals to the connected sensor/switches

iii. Send instant notifications to the user for unwanted events observed, act on user-guided directions in real-time, and even take remedial actions itself

C. Control Application/Firmware

At times, the need to program a customized firmware comes into effect while designing the blueprint of a ‘smart home’ by using adaptable computers like a Raspberry Pi.

If you are already aware of different frameworks to develop mobile and web applications, then it would be straightforward for you to understand that there are several dedicated frameworks available to develop a bespoke home automation application, i.e. control software for connected home products.

By now, I hope you have an idea of this triad — sensors, hub, software — to build an automated IoT system.

Latest Innovations in the IoT Industry

Consider the following functions that are being used for home automation:

  • Regulating heating, air conditioning, ventilation, and air filtering
  • Security and surveillance
  • Water quality
  • Gardening, irrigation, and lawn maintenance
  • AI-based voice assistants
  • Entertainment
  • Power saving and smart energy meters
  • Locks and switches

However, as I said earlier, I won’t portray how smart bulbs, fridges, and Wi-Fi-connected ovens work; this requires you to play around with several apps on your smartphone every other day.

Instead, let’s look at a few practical examples:

1. Imagine you step into your house and the lights turn on automatically. With intricate components like occupancy detection and sunblind actuators, smart switches can control lights and shading — just like in the movies!

But wait…

2. How come the house is already warm when you step in? Did you forget to power off the heating before you left? You are quite sure that you turned off everything before you left.

The mystery is in the newly installed system that can track your phone/car’s location. Whenever you are about to approach your home, it turns on the heating system 5-10 minutes before you unlock the door.

And in the case of having to turn your car around due to a sudden change of plans, the system is smart enough to comprehend these changes and act accordingly.

Isn’t that great!?

This type of climate control mechanism is just one aspect of an intelligent IoT home automation system.

Bonus point: It reduces your electricity bill as well.

3. Another example is a clever lawn irrigation system with smart sprinklers that can collect real-time weather data and water your garden itself based on surrounding dry and wet conditions.

4. The same system can also send you notifications if any window or door is left open in your home, trigger the alarm with networked smoke and gas sensors, or even make a 911 call and inform the emergency response team through a computerized message in case you are unable to answer that call.

Amazingly, these applications are just the start of IoT home automation products and services. In just five years, I am quite sure that there will be much more to come.

Moreover, I have listed some ready-to-use IoT home automation gadgets below that are making big waves:

  1. SmartThings Hub
  2. ecobee SmartThermostat
  3. Amazon Smart Plug
  4. WINK HUB 2

*Mentioned for educational purposes only. You may go through these products’ descriptions to learn more about their out of the box features and how the home automation works. I am not endorsing any products in this post.

Still Have Doubts? Why You Should Give Home Automation a Chance

Many ask themselves the question:

Is home automation really necessary?

Can too much reliance on technology become troublesome, considering our generation has the ‘reputation’ of smartphone/tech addiction?

Honestly, there is no harm in trying something new, at least to give it a fair chance. These reminders and notifications can save time and money. Additionally, I won’t have to rush back home to turn off the sprinklers or turn off a light if a smart system can take care of that itself.

Mankind is curious by nature. But it also makes us prone to the impulse when buying new things, even if we don’t need them.

However, more and more people are buying IoT automation products, and a lot of enterprises can’t seem to get enough. Overall, the scope of IoT-based home automation in the near future will be enormous. In fact, I think that phrases like “unplug” and “turn off” will become obsolete in the next ten years.

This UrIoTNews article is syndicated fromDzone