Internet of Things (IoT) is leading us to a comfortable and convenient life. We can now have automatic systems in our homes to take care of routine tasks and ease our lives. An IoT based Home Automation System is equipped with multiple applications such as controlling lighting, HVAC, safety and security, energy monitoring and control of home appliances. The home automation system lets users to remotely control their homes via smartphone, PC or tablet.
A basic home automation system requires sensors, gateway, communication protocol, software and cloud server. The IoT cloud platforms being used for home automation applications include AWS, Azure, Thingworx, Konekt and IBM Bluemix. The IoT gateway (such as CoAP, MQTT and HTTP) allows the sensors to be connected to cloud server. At the same time, it is important to select the optimum communication protocol (eg: Zigbee, BLE, wi-fi, 6lowpan and ANT), which will allow for better device integration and network capabilities.
A smart home has sensors to monitor various parameters like temperature, humidity, occupancy, luminosity, air quality, vibrations and energy values which are transmitted over Internet for analysis and subsequently, control of home devices. The sensors also monitor interactions with the home appliances and this data is transmitted to cloud for analysis and to detect patterns. A user can then, control these appliances via remote control in a smartphone app or automate certain functionality – all being operated over a cloud platform. For instance, an IoT based automation system for homes can detect entry/exit of people and occupancy inside a home to control the heating and cooling requirements plus, take care of energy savings. Some systems even monitor air quality to control HVAC in a home environment.
One of the home automation systems include Wi-fi module - which is used to send and receive signals from the internet and power on/off the loads, using only TRIAC and optocouplers. The TRIAC and optocoupler eliminate the need of a microcontroller based control device in such a system.
Another application of home automation system for security and surveillance purpose involves installing cameras in homes and feeding the video stream to intelligent system to detect suspicious activity and alert the home owner on their smartphone or other device. This system implements computer vision to apply intelligence and analytics to the video feed to detect familiar and strange occurrences.
Since, internet has penetrated our lives to a greater extent and is allowing us to connect all existing devices over a network, the advent of smart homes is set to grow in near future. The upcoming market is witnessing home assistants to control home appliances. Embedding intelligence to home automation systems can lead to numerous tasks being automated, however, security remains a concern when it comes to integrating multiple devices and sharing sensitive details.