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CIO Review >> Magazine >> August - 2013 issue

'The Internet of Things' and Home Automation


Incorporated in 2008, Silvan Innovation Labs is a solution provider for home automation and an emerging player in the security industry.

The Internet of Things (IOT) has been a buzzword for a while now, yet it still is a mystery to most. The Internet of Things does exactly what it says: connect 'things' through a network. It is essentially the interaction and exchange of data between machines and objects connected over the internet without human intervention.

From a home automation context, the IOT processes data to sense, command, and control, and decipher everything at home making life more safe, secure, comfortable and fun.

Almost every home now has smart devices other than a computer like smart phones, iPhones, or tablets. Apart from performing their inherent functions, these devices can also be used to control your home, even when you are away. As long as your device is connected to the internet you can use it to interact with all the gadgets, appliances making your home an active partner in your life. Basically the "connected things" communicate with each other and begin to work on their own without one acting as a messenger and telling them all the time what to do.

So how does this work?
IOT works with the help of two kinds of devices:
• Interacting devices
• Sensing devices

Interacting devices are ones which have the potential to interact via a network and behave accordingly (such as phones, lights, fans, sprinklers, music system, coffee maker and others).

Sensing devices are ones which receive and respond to a signal and are capable of communicating with external devices. These sensors measure motion, orientation, and various environmental conditions and then send messages to other devices to act accordingly. Some of the sensing devices are: door sensors, heat sensors, gas leak sensors, and temperature sensors.

A combination of these devices and a network makes your home 'intelligent' and it begins to function on its own by responding to external signals. Your home becomes an interactive partner of your life.

Consider the Following Cases:

• Motion sensors have a very unique characteristic - it acts by detecting movement. So, when you enter a dark room, the motion sensor feels your presence automatically and the lights are turned on and when you leave the room, the lights go off by it self. What can be better than after a long and tiring day when you enter home and your favorite music starts playing and the lights are set according to your mood? With motion sensors this can be made real and it relaxes your mood for the evening.
• Motion sensors can also provide an additional layer of security to your house. They are also used to alert the homeowner of motion in or outside the home, when it is detected. This can be made possible by having a monitor at the entranceway which detects the face of the visitor and alerts with his/her picture on your phone or any other smart device. Even if there is any unwanted presence in the house, the sensor detects the presence and sends alerts on your cell phones. You can see who is at the door and even open the door for him from your office or anywhere.
• Imagine it is very hot and you are lying on your couch in the drawing room and you are too lazy to get up and search for the remote to turn on the air conditioner. By installing temperature sensors this problem can be solved. Temperature sensor senses the heat outside and when the room gets too hot, it turns on the air conditioner automatically.
• Sensors enable gas leak, smoke or fire detection which can help in the timely corrective action to prevent damage to your property and save your loved ones.
• If someone attempts to break into your house through a door or a window – immediate detection, loud alarm and SMS alerts can protect your home. His presence is detected and alarm/SMS alerts are raised even before he touches the door. The motion sensor also detects the presence and the lights are switched on automatically preventing potential intrusion and loss. Thus along with sending alerts, the lights also switch on which can scare the intruder.
• Have you ever thought about how nice it would be to wake up to natural light as your curtains opened automatically in the morning, or how useful it would be if when it is too hot and the AC gets turned on and the curtains draw by it self? Along with the AC turning on automatically you even get the benefit of the curtains which works in coordination with the AC.
• The server in the house can be integrated with the cloud calendar. So if you are on a vacation you can schedule lighters and sprinklers on your calendar which trigger as per the requirement and you can go for a holiday without any stress.