The Online Butler – the new face of smart home applications

Cees Links

There is a lot of chatter about the Internet of Things and the Smart Home but not a lot of agreement, says Cees Links of GreenPeak Technologies, about what it is and what it should be.

GreenPeak thinks that the smart home is more than a bunch of connected things with web-based remote control and monitoring. Instead, we see the future Smart Home as a collection of services that are dedicated to making our lives safer, more secure and a lot more comfortable. In fact, we think the term ‘smart home’ should be replaced by the term ‘Online Butler’.

The Online Butler is an ecosystem of Sentrollers (sensors, controllers and actuators), wirelessly connected to each other and the internet, with cloud intelligence to collect and analyse the data, and online dashboards to control and monitor the system – via smart phones, laptops, tablets, etc.

The actual components of the connected automated home have been around for decades but never talked to each other. In the last five years or so, some additional intelligence and connectivity has been added so that users can now access their home systems via a web connection and can control them remotely. However, this is not yet a smart home because it is still dumb! It still relies on a human to assess the conditions, make decisions and tell it what to do.

The really smart automated home or the Online Butler not only senses what is happening in the home but makes decisions and takes appropriate action. Suppose you come home after a hard day at work. As you get close, your house senses you are near, turns on the lights, opens the garage door and unlocks the door. The house, knowing your preferences, starts the automatic coffee maker and tunes the music system to your favourite tunes. The HVAC system activates to bring your house to the right temperature. When you go inside, as you go from room to room, the system automatically turns on and off the lights as you move.

The Online Butler recognises you, as well as the other members of the household, and configures and fine-tunes the house’s systems to the right preferences. IE – when the kids come home, lights are on and music is loud. As you drive up the lights get a bit subdued and music changes to your adult preferences. You are the parent after all!

Smart HomeSuppose you are interested in improving your health? Nowadays you may have some kind of wearable health monitor on your wrist that tracks blood pressure, steps taken, calories burned, etc. However, it relies on you to make correct choices. Instead these wearables should be part of a Lifestyle Coach system that not only tracks what you do but provides guidance throughout the day to improve your health. Accessing your online health records, it can provide guidance regarding what you should eat, whether you need to exercise more, whether you need to get out of the sun. Always connected and always working for you, it can also provide alerts to your family and healthcare providers if you are having some kind of life or medical crisis.

What makes this application so special? Intelligence – the ability to learn many different aspects of a situation, and then to take action without having to have a human in the middle. That is why butlers are hired. They know what to do. They don’t require micromanagement of their daily activities.

The cloud-based, web-connected and smart Online Butler will be our servant, taking care of us, and making our lives more efficient, safer and more secure.

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