The Future of Home Automation
We take a look at some predictions for the home tech industry in 2020.
Technology is an integral part of our daily lives. When electronics and computer science enter our homes and begin to actively control its functionalities and simplify complicated operations, we are referring to automation or, more specifically, home automation.
The term “home automation” is well known and is still widely used to generically identify “robotic” situations in the home environment. However, few people can identify the specific conditions that qualify a home as “automated”. The majority of people interviewed on this subject have expressed concepts like these: A kitchen that could prepare dinner automatically or a coffee machine that can pour on its own in the morning.
To this today, I haven’t programmed a coffee maker yet!
Home automation is something more important than those things. It is a complete set of electronic devices that is designed perfectly, custom-wired to exact demands, installed in suitable rooms and places, then programmed by experts in the field. These devices interface with systems like lighting, temperature control, blinds, audio-video, and intrusion detection, on top of allowing user control through interfaces like touch screens, handheld devices, and smart phones.
In other words, the user can use a single computer interface to send out simple or complex commands. For example, they can turn on a light or raise a shutter. Or, the user can invoke a certain scenario. For example: in the event of leaving home, the audio-video devices shut down, the blinds are shut, the lighting is altered, and the intrusion detection is activated. These “automated” operations, programmed in the electronic brain of the central processor, define a perfectly made home automaton system.
The concept of the scenarios or macro-scenarios, which is overlooked and many times not realized in the installation phase, is truly the pillar of home automation’s future. Home automation is not a “remote control”, but it is an intelligent system that manages all the articulations and vital functions of the home.
A processor analyzes data that comes from the remote and central units. It also analyzes the feedback, adding it to the user’s possible requests and to the prefixed settings, working to create an optimal state of well-being. This processor does not contain these instructions initially. It needs to be programmed during the system’s designing phase. It would also make the time of day, weather, and intensity of external light factors for scenario decision making. Imagine a night scenario that processes all these variables along with the personalized requests of the owner in order to optimally manage the lighting, temperature, shades, and intrusion detection.
This is the result of the correct installation and configuration of a home automation system. The user does not know the background of these processes, but sees their results. It should be noted that the graphic control interface used should be simple, intuitive, rational, and uniform- in terms of its fixed and portable panels.
The user should be able to directly customize the macro scenarios, breaking the embryonic bond that is inevitably created between the system programmer and the owner. Assuming that the hardware used for the installation is dependable and of high quality, it’s clear that a successful home automation system depends exclusively on the staff that offers, designs, installs, configures, and programs the system.
At the beginning of my career, one of my teachers told me, “Your software’s success is determined exclusively by the one who uses it. When you satisfied all his needs, having made simple that which was formerly complicated, you will be able to say that your work is finished.”
Automation’s success and growth depends on this very basic concept: end user satisfaction.
The team should offer the product commercially, properly designing it with the client, installing and programming it, not only pointing out choices that the market dictates, but other ones that are based on subjective and objective functionalities. Professionalism and experience establish the relationship of trust with the user. This bilateral trust relationship stimulates business growth. The foundation for automation’s solid and prosperous development is based on these conditions.
Today the user that turns to the home automation market does not know its potential or the right solution or what would give the best results. If to this we add the factors of inexperience and amateurism of the people involved in the phase of project realization, the results can be disastrous. Also, the important method of word of mouth is being used less in this field, and a brand, whatever it may be, suffers heavily from this trend. This phenomenon disadvantages the field of automation because any negative publicity about home automation affects every operator in the sector, not just a select few.
I see a future full of new technologies and changes in the residential field of home automation, provided that today we can highlight the importance of professionalism of the businesses involved in the installation. The vision for 2020 is full of expectations. I see that finally we could really obtain a “green” load management, devices that can help the elderly and the disabled, and the standardization of rules for correct results like certifications as there are in other fields. I would like to be able to give vocal commands. I also want our homes in 2020 to be able to truly autonomously manage their selves. This will happen only if we raise the level of quality of the sector today by involving all the parties involved…even the client.
In Italy like in other countries, we should not fall into the trap of skipping technological steps , chasing after more advanced nations that have managed the sector for years, dominating the its development and dictating the rules. These steps should commercially prepare for a future that will contain an explosion of requests that are less sectoral and always more targeted toward mass use.
We are at beginning of automation’s infancy, even though this kind of technology has been offered for years. We are setting the foundation for a healthy future that is full of satisfaction. This success depends completely on us, who work in this field. We have one vision: to satisfy the needs of those who use our systems.
Raffaello Maria del Re is a Crestron authorized independent programmer and creator of the Crestron Framework.