Home automation and monitoring: fad, fud or future
Home monitoring and automation seems to be everywhere at the moment, with thermostats monitoring your house temperatures, Cameras streaming to mobile phones and even light switches remote controlled from an app. Additionally, there is lots of chatter about the proliferation of IoT devices allowing you to monitor and control more every day devices and get alerts no matter where you are.
In years past, automation and monitoring technology used to be the realm of the true techno nerd, those people who had networked houses and home servers. Now however WiFi is the norm, the price of smart devices is coming down, and devices are available to the mainstream consumer in their local supermarket.
Of course there are issues (the FUD or Fear, Uncertainty or Doubt) with lots of scaremongering in the press about security, and more accurately the insecurity of these consumer devices. And it is true that making devices simple to set up, with weak default passwords (1234 for example) does make them easy to â€˜second guessâ€™ and access. But if users are made aware of these risks and given the ability to lock them down this risk is reduced. If configured properly the benefits outweigh the dangers.
The growth of home monitoring is not just a fad. Devices are getting cheaper and energy although currently stable in price is only going to get more expensive, so keeping an eye on your heating whilst you are out of the house, or ensuring the children are turning off lights is easier and more convenient than ever before. Implementing monitoring and automation technology is becoming more cost effective every day, but what are the other advantages which you should consider before jumping in?
Awareness: Monitoring increases the awareness of what is happening within and around your home. Through security cameras and sensors you can actually gain more awareness than if you were there. For example, understand when your fridge is open or when someone walks through your back garden gate.
Efficiency and cost savings: The use of connected thermostats and remotely controlled lighting allows you to take control of your energy bills, turn down the temperature whilst you are not at home and turn out lights when they are not needed. You can even set them up so that when a window is open the radiator in that room automatically switches off.
Security: IP camera technology is now very discrete and affordable. They can often be connected to cloud storage and used to record constantly, or only record when movement occurs. Connected door locks allow you to control who comes in and out of your home and know when people enter or exit. Additionally many modern home alarm systems can send sms messages, or have their own apps.
Safety: Automation allows you to monitor your energy usage, but also switch lights on and off and set timers. Automated lighting can ensure you have a safe walk up to your house and that lights are on when you get home. Plus as above IP Cameras can help protect your home and young ones.
What is the future?
All the above features are just the tip of the iceberg. IoT devices will allow even more remote control. Imagine a situation where your connected fridge tells you that you are low on milk, so you can buy some on the way home, or that it is getting too hot so you know the door is open. A situation where your IP camera picks up that your dog is distressed so you turn on your stereo to calm it or you finish late at the office, but itâ€™s no issue because you can turn your oven on to cook your evening meal, when you are on your way back. OK we may be able to remember the milk without a call from our fridge but the security and energy saving benefits of the Smart Home are with us here and now and can only become more widespread as prices come down.
Mutiny has been producing monitoring solutions for industry since 2000, producing devices capable of monitoring thousands of devices simultaneously. Although Mutiny is overkill in a domestic setting, the cloud based monitoring systems allow IoT developers to trap outbound information from their installed devices, providing an extra layer of protection against hacking.
We will be watching with interest as the devices improve and looking at ways in which Mutiny can support IoT vendors and their customers to get the most from their devices and keep them secure.