The future of the connected home

I have a connected light bulb in my living room, says Sachin Mahajan. Whenever India plays a cricket match, it turns blue, telling me to switch on the TV and kick back.

If I wanted to, I could have the bulb flick on and off a couple of times every time somebody tags me in a photo on Facebook, or BuzzFeed uploads a new article on technology that interests me. I’m also thinking about buying a connected lock for my front door. It would send me a text message when somebody knocks on the door, so I’d know about it even if I was on the other side of the world. Thanks to a small video camera at the door, I could use my smartphone to see who it is, and to unlock the door if I wanted to let the visitor in.

I can do all of this thanks to machine-to-machine (M2M) technology and an industry of really cool apps that’s growing by the day.

Home security

M2M home security has been around for a while. You can have a system installed professionally, or you can do it yourself. Cameras can be activated by motion, sending images to your smartphone or tablet so you know what’s happening inside your home. You can be alerted if something unexpected takes place, and you can check visitors at the door. It’s up to you how much you are able to control.

You can even extend it to personal security inside the home, say for seniors. There’s an app that will alert you on your smartphone if your 80 year-old parent has fallen, or if there’s been no activity in their home for the last 18 hours.

Automation

This is where the really cool innovation is happening. Take the connected lock I described above and imagine how realtors could use it. Today, many realtors still hang a dropbox with a key in it on the front door of a house they’re selling. Often, they use the same combination for all their dropboxes. That could be a security nightmare. But with connected locks, realtors could simply use their smartphones to check every prospective purchaser at the door and decide whether or not to open up to them.

Energy management

There’s already a plethora of devices that can do amazing things. For example, there’s the Google Nest. It’s only about $250 and you can easily install it yourself. It learns your patterns and preferences and automates them, controlling the furnace (boiler) or air conditioning just the way you like it, and saving you as much as 20% on your energy bill. I paid over $700 for electricity last year, I could have saved $140!

The great thing about the Nest is that it also understands hand gestures. So if you’re cooking something that you know is going to be smokey, you can wave your hand and Nest will switch off your smoke detector for the next 20 minutes.

What’s next for the connected home?

You wake up in the morning and put on your slim biometric bracelet. It identifies you by your heartbeat, which is as unique as your fingerprints so nobody else can pretend to be you. Your thermostat registers that you’re awake and quickly adjusts the temperature to your preference.

You go through your morning routines and prepare to leave for work. The front door unlocks as you approach it and locks itself behind you. You walk up to your car and unlock it with a wave of your hand. Along the way, you stop for a coffee, wave your bracelet over the cash register and the cost of your latte is debited directly from your bank account.

At the office, your desk lamp switches on when you enter and your computer boots up and logs you in. You finish early because you’re leaving on a business trip, wave your arm again and everything switches off.  Later, at your hotel, you wave your arm at the TV set and it starts up, ready to resume the Netflix show you were watching the night before, at the exact spot you stopped it.

Actually, this isn’t a prediction of something that may happen sometime in the future. The technology for everything I’ve described here is available right now . And it’s all thanks to the magic of M2M.

The author, Sachin Mahajan, is the Director of Machine to Machine (M2M) at Telus.

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