What Makes A 'Smart Home'?
We have broad view of what a smart home is and the functions it needs to support:
- Safety and peace of mind.
- Security and access control.
- Energy efficiency and reduced environmental impact.
- Comfort and well-being.
- Convenient and efficient interaction.
- Intelligent and proactive interaction.
- Entertainment, gaming and fun.
- Quality of life and lifestyle.
- Reliability and resilience.
- Assisted living, health and fitness.
Based on this scope we think a smart home can be defined by all of the following:
- It must meet the needs of all family members and in all the roles they need to fulfil.
- A smart home must solve everyday problems, improving efficiency & convenience, whilst making life simpler and supporting the right behaviours.
- It provide efficient (typically minimise) human interaction and use the preferred interface of each family member to provide a personalised experience for each specific task and location.
We don't like the 'sustainable' word because it is so over used but, it's the only word broad enough in meaning to cover this aspect of our smart home:
- A smart home should sit well within its location and environment, using local materials where possible and minimising its impact on its surroundings.
- It must not pollute in any form (chemical, noise, light, visually, etc.).
- It should minimise the use of resources (both man-made and natural) used in construction and in use. Renewable resources and recycling should be a primary design focus.
- It should be a positive contribution to the local wildlife, encouraging new and more diverse habitats.
- It should aim to be energy efficient and ideally a net positive energy producer.
One further goal of our smart home is to extend its reach and impact through this website.
- A smart home should be easily configurable, extensible and future proof. It must be possible to replace older technology and update existing components, with minimal impact.
- It should be familiar and intuitive, with the required exposed elements being stylish and elegant.
- It must be cost effective, through the use of the 'right' technology and each component being used for multiple functions (where practical), e.g. temperature sensor used for HVAC and fire detection.
- It must be accessible for all family members and guests as appropriate.
- A Smart Home needs to protect itself, its contents and its occupants by taking direct and appropriate action when required.
- It needs to accurately interpret events, to identify and prioritise possible threats and must also react to explicit information (e.g. a panic button being pressed).
- It must inform the relevant parties in a timely and appropriate manner based on an accurate assessment of the threat level. This must encompass all types of foreseeable threats (e.g. burglary, darkness, extreme weather, fire, smoke, carbon monoxide, and via comms networks).
- It needs to collect and store information securely (for both real-time or off-line access) to enable analysis of threats, behaviours and actions.
- It needs to be extremely reliable and resilient to external factors (e.g. mains power failure, adverse weather, etc.) and aware of the wider environment it sits within.
- A Smart Home needs to automate mundane, repetitive or time-consuming tasks in an intelligent manner.
- It must accurately predict user needs and take appropriate and timely action to meet them.
- It must learn and adapt to changing user needs over time.
- It must also respond and interact intelligently and this is why we have integrated artificial intelligence into our smart home.
- It must be a fun place to live and work.
- It must support both mental and physical development of its residents.
- It must support quality communication, collaboration and sharing.
- It must support the discovery, download & storage, management and access to quality entertainment in all its forms (games, films, TV episodes/series, video clips, music, etc.).
- It must support quality playing/viewing of content around your home on a wide range of devices and in any location(s).
A smart home should also be extensible and able to support more specialist functions. Assisted living is an inherent part of the smart home in our view and telecare and even telehealth services are a logical extension to the functionality.
Our view is that a smart home needs be about much more than just technology. Above all, it must improve quality of life. Many aspects of a smart some are based around the simplest of design decisions (such as materials used). In a truly smart home, the application of technology is incredibly subtle thing, adding to the foundations that are cast through intelligent design.
Where technology is used, it needs to be easy to install and use a combination of the most appropriate wired and wireless technologies. Although not essential, we think a hybrid technology solution is the best approach and the use of technology abstraction make installation and use a much simpler process.
It's an ambitious set of goals for our next home but, one we think is achievable. We are simply aiming to build the world's smartest house and are a long way down the path to doing so. Let us know if you think we have missed anything.