By Dr Andrew Dickson, CBI-electric Engineering Executive: low voltage (https://CBI-lowvoltage.co.za)
Smart homes are no longer a thing of the future, but a reality of the present, and soon they will be even smarter. Global spending on IoT (Internet of Things) products is predicted to reach $1.1 trillion by 2023 [i], coming out of the pandemic unscathed with more and more people wanting connected homes. As such, the adoption rate of smart home technology shows no signs of slowing down.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is becoming more and more ingrained in our daily lives and, as a result, becoming smarter. When it comes to our homes, AI can use information gathered from the grid, weather data and smart meters, along with energy consumption statistics, to analyze, improve and optimize the operational and energy performance of our homes.
The advancement of this technology means that smart homes will not only anticipate our needs and do so automatically, but they will also be able to detect health conditions, prepare our meals and even exercise our pets for us. In the future, all appliances, plugs and accessories will have an automation element based on our needs or schedules.
Overall, though, the smart homes of tomorrow will be more connected, aware and autonomous.
Today’s homes have been uplifted by a plethora of devices ranging from those for home intelligence and energy efficiency, to entertainment, access control and home comfort. But now, with more people working remotely, this has expanded to include devices that help with everyday tasks and connectivity. As technology advances, the more these devices talk to each other.
By doing so, smart homes will be able to learn more about their owners or occupants and anticipate their needs. This is the result of the data that these interconnected devices will be able to collect, analyze, share and execute, helping to transform the homes of the future from an array of interconnected gadgets and accessories into truly “smart” homes. Imagine, for example, arriving home with a packet of medicine delivered by drone, courtesy of the health sensors built into your bathroom, which detected signs of impending illness and automatically placed an order at your pharmacy via a health app.
Homes (and neighborhoods) can be powered by smart microgrids that use renewable energy sources. This could solve the current electricity access challenge across Africa. Properly designed and maintained, these systems can be sustainable in the future.
In Alabama, a pilot microgrid project was launched to test how homes can interact and become more energy efficient. Alabama Smart Neighborhood’s 62 homes were built to incorporate home automation and be connected to a microgrid. The technology used can predict the weather, predict the neighborhood’s electricity usage, and then make decisions about operating the microgrid solar panels, battery storage, or backup natural gas generator. Different objectives can also be defined, such as minimizing costs or reducing carbon production. In addition, the control system communicates with devices in homes and can adjust them remotely. However, each home within the microgrid can define parameters within which this software can make changes, such as maximum and minimum temperatures for heating and cooling.
Africa is still developing and deploying microgrid and smart city development concepts. However, to move towards sustainability, it is essential that small cell systems, which include smart buildings, become commonplace.
Seventy-three percent of homeowners say they use smart devices for convenience and time savings [ii]. While current technology allows users to control home appliances and systems from anywhere in the world, the features will be expanded for greater convenience in the future. We’re already seeing the rise of refrigerators that email recipe owners based on what’s inside, washing machines that send a text message when a load of laundry is finished, and virtual assistants that respond to a person’s mood based on what’s inside. in the tone of voice. We also have irrigation systems that only turn on when programmed if it’s not raining. Most of these smart home devices are controlled through apps, so having them all managed seamlessly through a single command center can give users the greatest convenience.
Smart homes will be the future. Life as we know it will be irrevocably changed for the better of consumers and the country at large. Start investing in tomorrow’s smart homes today.
Distributed by the APO Group on behalf of CBI-electric: low voltage.
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