The concept of a smart home

Live smart

The concept of a smart home is no longer the stuff of science-fiction. In fact, the shift towards automated living has gone mainstream with wider acceptance among consumers. Read on…

Archana Das, a Charted Accountant, welcomed home a beagle a couple of years ago. However, he didn’t seem too happy with his new home. “After work, when my husband and I would return home, he would continuously bark at us; not eat well; be in an irritable mood and not sleep soundly,” Das mentions. So what could be the reason behind such behaviour, Das wondered. She soon launched a probe to find an answer to this question. “My caretaker did not take optimum care of the pet, and at times, would lock him in the house alone and go off for her own recreational activity. Hence, when we used to return home, he would bark at us,” she adds. Though Das immediately fired the caretaker, what worried her more was the fact that such an instance could happen again. So, how does she keep a track of the activities of her pet and ensure he is safe when she is away for work or even travelling? The question was a daunting one indeed, but she soon found an answer. “We installed closed-circuit TV cameras at home as it would help us not only keep a tab on the activities of our pet, but also ensure that he is safe and well-taken care off,” adds Das. Thanks to constant technological advancements, Das now lives in a ‘smart home’.

What is a smart home?

Smart homes are homes, which are powered by computing devices and information technology that connect various gadgets and instruments in the house to provide enhanced comfort, convenience, security, and entertainment to residents in a sustainable way. In the Indian context, it is one of the fastest evolving markets expected to grow at 30 percent Y-O-Y.

Evolution of the smart home market:

The factors that have contributed to the growth of smart homes in India are as follows:

1. Increasing penetration of internet and mobile technology;

2. The affluent, young and well travelled middle-class who is seeking a better lifestyle and high standard of living;

3. To reduce and possibly eliminate the component of human error in safety and security;

4. A change in the spending and saving pattern of the people.

What is driving the acceptance of smart homes?

According to Chetan Bafna, Founder and CEO, Lockated, a smart home in the current times is primarily being used only for three purposes:

Social prestige;

Convenience;

Safety and security.

Hence, in search for a better quality of life, people are now increasingly adopting smart solutions and technologies that help them stay connected even when they are away to make life more convenient, comfortable, controlled and healthy.

Not a domain of the rich anymore:

Every product goes through a typical lifecycle: early adaptors > influencers > inspirational > mass adoption. Today, since everyone has access to computing technologies and internet, yesterday’s luxuries have become today’s necessities. Hence, though there was a time when smart homes were the prerogative of the very rich – it is no longer the case.

Technology taking big strides:

A smart home is a concept that is finding greater acceptance on account of changing lifestyles across urban India. And with urban living getting more and more complex, the threat to safety and security has also increased. “Smart homes allow residents to have control over their homes and belongings even while they are not present physically in the house. The most popular device used is home surveillance and security systems. These are especially popular with working parents of young children who are either left home alone or in custody of nannies,” says Ashutosh Limaye, Head Research & REIS, JLL India.

Also, due to an increased awareness among consumers, products with a focus on data analytics and remote connectivity are getting popular.

“Home automation features such as curtain controls, mood lighting and auto load shut off are extremely popular among the HNWIs and millennials. We are also seeing a wider adoption of technology for lighting management systems, as well as wiring devices, circuit protection, cable management and air purifiers for a healthier, energy-efficient and cleaner home environment,” says Sudhir Pillai, General Manager, homes, Honeywell Home and Building Technologies, India.

In short, with convenience, comfort, control, health and well-being no longer considered a luxury but a necessity, people are increasingly adopting smart solutions and technology to meet these demands.

Upgrade to a smart home:

– Shrinivas Chebbi, President, Partner and Eco-Buildings, Schneider Electric (India)

Starter kit for affordable homes: You can install a basic video door phone and convert the existing modular switches to smart switches.

Performance kit for high-end homes: You can further add lighting controls (dimming, mood/scene control); motorised curtains, air conditioner control and even multimedia and TV.

A luxury kit for independent villas: Luxury kits primarily include a camera integration, air-conditioner control, AV projector/screen controls, time scheduling controls, garden sprinklers, garage door automation. The controls can be extended to include fountains, landscape lighting etc.

Shehzin Shaikh, Times Property, The Times of India, Chennai