2.1 Smart Home Architecture The officialdefinition for a smart home, according to the UK Department of Trade andIndustry, is: “”A dwelling incorporating a communications network thatconnects the key electrical appliances and services, and allows them to beremotely controlled, monitored or accessed.” ( http://www.sersc.org/journals/IJSH/vol9_no4_2015/21.pdf) Therefore, to be considered SHT, a device or appliance should be able toconnect to the internet or to other devices, have a certain level ofautomation, and be able to be remotely controlled – or at least monitored – viaa device such as smartphone or tablet. This definition, however, does not cover devices and appliances that donot have access to the internet or the cloud, but are still considered smart,as they can be set up to work autonomously without the need for user inputafter the initial setup, or just minimal input – eg remotely controlled cookeror washing machine. A smart home is anetwork of inter-connected parts – smart devices, each of which plays its partin providing the user with their intended functionalities.
Such functionalitiesmight be: a) Detecting or sensing things likemovement, temperature, visual and audio triggers. b) Processing information.c) Responding to user input or asituation. “A” is the mostcommon. Once a device sensor receives input from surrounding environment, itthen either carries out a task in response to this event, or sends informationto another device, known as an actuator, in order for it to react to the event(or both). For example, lights can be set up to turn off as user leaves thehouse, if the thermostat senses there is nobody in the house.
Most of these products use Bluetooth andInternet connectivity to interact with each other, send data to the cloud, and allow its users to remotely access and control them.Wi-fi and Bluetooth are thought to be the most popular technologies forconnectivity between devices within smart homes, however not the most efficient– Bluetooth, for example, can only work in smaller areas. Wi-Fi has replacedEthernet connectivity due to being more convenient, and other communicationsprotocols include ZigBee and Z-Wave, which use radio waves for communication betweendevices. A network called Insteon, in fact, uses both wired networks as well asradio waves.
Most modern systems also include a convenientcentralised smart home hub, also known as “bridge” or “controller”, that acts acommand centre to every single devicethat is connected to it, regardless of the protocol they use. Most popular hubshave the ability to turn signals from different protocols into a Wi-Fi signal tobe understood by the router, which means that a very diverse range of devicescan be controlled via said hub. Any device connected can be controlled via thehub’s software or a 3rd party application on one’s smartphone ortablet; or, if using a voice-activated speaker like Amazon Echo, by issuingspecific voice commands directly to the hub. The hub will then send theinformation to the actuator device, prompting it to complete the specified task.The hub can also be setup to do completely automated tasks, like turning acertain device on at a certain time, or making devices perform multiple tasksat once when a certain pre-programmed scenario is activated – for example, by programmingand then activating a certain routine that the hub recognises.
However, users can increase the potential oftheir devices by taking advantage of IFTTT – If This Then That, a service that enableslinking smart devices and appliances to increase convenience and add functionality.It allows for certain actions or events to prompt other actions within the establishednetwork of smart devices. It can then be followed by even more actions, thatwill have triggered – for example, sending an e-mail of a shopping list thatAlexa saved, or programming for the coffee maker to turn on via a smart plug assoon as user’s Fitbit senses that they are awake. 2.1.2 Outro Most SHT devices can be interconnected to increasetheir efficiency and add new functionalities. For example, Nest systems includeheating control, flood sensors, smoke and carbon monoxide alarms etc, which canalso be connected to the Philips Hue lighting systems – which will sound alarmsif Nest detects smoke, that will in turn make the Hue lights flash for emphasisedalert – which is also extremely useful for people with disabilities.
Indoor andoutdoor surveillance systems can be used to keep an eye on one’s home to ensure it is safe from intruders, or toverify if a system is sending a correct signal to the smartphoneapplication – eg if a Nest smartphonenotification has been received that it senses smoke, to ensure it is not afalse alarm – or to keep an eye on children or elderly family members outsideof home. (risk analysis of shas) . 2.2 Smart home technology uses andusers 2.2.1 Convenience and resourcemanagement One of the first “smart” things that havemade their way into user’s homes were smart meters.
In order to be able totrack energy consumption, and reduce their energy consumption – and bills – as aresult, homeowners switched their old energy meters for smart ones. However,smart meters are not the only devices that can potentially help their userssave money. Devices like smart plugs and switches, smart lighting systems, thermostatsand others can assist smart home owners with the task, and can be controlledvia a smartphone or tablet application, or via a smart voice-activated speakerhub. SmartplugsSmart plugs allow users to remotely controlthem, and as a result, potentially save resources – for example, when the TV isleft on when leaving the house.
Depending on the model, a routine can be set upfor the plug to turn off the device that is plugged in, and turn it back on rightbefore it is going to be used. Some smart plugs have the capability to also track energy consumption of the device that isplugged into it, and, just like the smart meter, can help track energyspenditure. SmartthermostatsSmart thermostats, while playing an obviouspart in setting up comfort in a home, can also help save energy. They can learnheating habits, adjusting the temperature to suit user’s preference, and canalso be controlled via a smartphone – meaning it can be turned off remotely, controltemperature in different rooms, or even setup to turn off when the house isunoccupied.
SmartlightingSmart lighting systems, such as Philips Hue,among many other functionalities, allow users to set routines to turn lights inthe house – or outside – off and on depending on users’ preference, as well ascontrol the lights remotely – which in turn can save money. These lights can beprogrammed to change color when a social media notification is received, orwhen another device sends a signal – for example a smoke alarm – making it moreconvenient to keep track of important events. They can also add to the comfortin the home, as well as convenience – especially when using a voice activatedspeaker hub to control them. In most instances, popular smart lighting systemsare very easy to set up and work with a hub, which, among other benefits, hasmade them very popular. Voicecontrol system and specialised devicesApart from acting as a command centre forall of smart home devices, such as controlling heating, lights, voice controlsystems or smart speakers provide users with many other capabilities. They canplay music, read books, inform users of local news, weather and events, order takeaways,as well as make and receive phone calls.
Most importantly, it can do it all withoutany physical input from the user, due to being voice-activated. Devices likeWithings Aura, similarly to voice control systems, combine connectivity tolight, sounds and other systems, in order to help users with their sleepingpatterns. They do so by establishing an appropriate atmosphere by controlling thosedevices, such as playing calm music and turning down the lights. However, unlikevoice control systems, it is not voice activated. 2.2.2 Security Best home securitysystems consist of a set of entry sensors, motion sensors, alarms and surveillancecameras.
Some of these systems and standalone devices can even contact an externalagency or emergency services should an even such as break-in occur – these,however, usually require a subscription fee. Whichever option is chosen, thehouse can usually be monitored via a portable device via Wi-Fi, as well as allowingthe user to respond to events when they occur by notifying them via a phonecall or a notification. However, this list of security-related devices is notexplicit – many different smart hometechnology devices can contribute to one’s safety and security.