IBM (NYSE:IBM), STMicroelectronics (NYSE:STM) and Shaspa have announced a collaboration to use cloud and mobile computing to enable consumers to manage and interact with their homes’ functions and entertainment systems. Together, the companies are using multiple user interfaces such as voice recognition and physical gestures to “create a smarter home“.
A ‘smart home’ brings networking functions together, developing a gateway that connects a television, computer or mobile device with smart meters, lights, appliances, plugs and sensors within the home as well as services from outside. Analysts Parks Associates forecast that more than 8 billion devices will be connected on the home network by year-end 2015.
During the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), the three companies demonstrated a TV linked to ST’s Home Gateway, running software from business partner Shaspa, and connected to the IBM cloud. Through sensors, the system can monitor home parameters such as temperature, carbon dioxide level through a wireless or ‘batteryless’ IPv6 network. It can also monitor human motion within the home.
The data can then be communicated to a smartphone or tablet via a wireless router. In this way, the homeowner can offload much of the home management to the cloud, and interact with the system using event and time-based preset scenarios.
The companies anticipate that this initiative could allow consumers to use any device capable of running apps to manage a variety of personal activities such as viewing their home’s energy consumption; controlling security, heating and lighting systems; activating home appliances such as washing machines; monitoring health and assisted living conditions; or engaging in e-commerce. For example, a person with limited mobility could gesture to the TV to unlock the front door, turn up the heat or check vital signs. This project represents the future of electronics technology, as sensing devices and equipment respond seamlessly to user needs and requests, emulating the way humans sense their environment.
“Thanks to emerging cloud services we are entering a new era in which the role of the personal cloud is expanding into daily life and the smart home to improve energy efficiency, health and wellness and home entertainment,” said Bruce Anderson, general manager, Global Electronics Industry, IBM. “This collaboration is a great example of how cloud computing can be used for business and industry innovation versus solely for IT efficiency purposes. In the future, cloud-enabled electronics will sense what people want, evolving from seeing-to-noticing-to-remembering personal needs and histories.”
In this project, ST’s Home Gateway and Shaspa’s embedded software act as a bridge between the home and cloud services provided by the IBM SmartCloud Service Delivery Platform, which gives electronics manufacturers a cloud platform to manage smart devices and rapidly introduce new consumer services. The gateway, based on a STiH416, provides the physical connectivity, provisioning and management middleware, application protocols, and interfaces for connecting and controlling the Internet of Things. The connected home System-on-Chip runs software including Linux and a service management system compliant with the OSGi industry standard.
The infrastructure for the gateway-cloud service operation is provided by Shaspa’s graphical user interface (GUI) and application software. IBM Worklight, in combination with the Mobile Interface of the Shaspa embedded software, is the mobile application platform that enables end users to control and manage their homes from their personal devices. The mobile platform is used to build the application, connect the app to all the sensors within the home, and manage all events that take place. IBM software such as MQ Series and Worklight helps transmit the data to mobile devices. Data captured in the cloud supports the discovery of new insights through advanced analytics.
“Smarter buildings are an essential part of the journey towards a sustainable world, and this building-to-cloud system shows that connected living is becoming possible today,” said Oliver Goh, founder & CEO of Shaspa. “This secure, scalable offering will be the enabler for ecosystems, enabling the fast creation and deployment of value-add services.”
The idea of an intelligent home that uses technology to enhance the lives of its occupants is far from new; it was a major theme in the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair. However, the partners say that they are now in a position to realise the intelligent-home dream with systems that feature scalability, interoperability and security built in from the start. This requires collaborations among leading players across the ecosystem.
“The smart home is a key part of the smarter world we need to address important global challenges, including energy saving and more affordable and accessible healthcare, and many different technologies and skills must be brought together to accelerate its development,” said Alessandro Cremonesi, group vice president and general manager of Advanced Systems Technology, STMicroelectronics. “This demonstration confirms that ST’s solutions, from sensors, low-power microcontrollers and communications devices to home gateways, combined with our unrivalled track record in successful partnering, can contribute significantly to making smart homes a reality.”
Mobility is fundamentally transforming the way people live, work, play and make decisions, says IBM. As the first new technology platform for business to emerge since the advent of the Web, mobile computing represents one of the greatest opportunities facing organisations. IBM has helped thousands of clients adopt cloud models and manages millions of cloud-based transactions every day, assisting clients in banking, communications, healthcare and government to build their own clouds or securely tap into IBM cloud-based business and infrastructure services. (www.ibm.com/smartcloud)
Shaspa, is a provider of a service delivery framework for smart building projects. An end-to-end framework allowing personalised automation and control solutions for residential, commercial and specialised properties. Founded in 2007, the company has built a platform and set of services that blends emerging services and technologies to manage environments. Shaspa users can improve energy efficiency, manage their home when away from home and support independent living in an unobtrusive way.
ST is a global player in the semiconductor market serving customers across the spectrum of sense and power and automotive products and embedded processing solutions. From energy management and savings to trust and data security, from healthcare and wellness to smart consumer devices, in the home, car and office, at work and at play.
 Parks Associates study: Service Providers and the Connected Home, 2011, http://www.parksassociates.com/whitepapers/parks-serviceproviders-wp2011
 While carbon dioxide isn’t generally dangerous, monitoring CO2 levels is useful so that environmental systems can adjust ventilation to suit the number of occupants in a room. Knowing how many people are in a room can save energy; fewer occupants produce lower levels of CO2 and, therefore, ventilation levels can be set lower.