Category: IoT Smart Home

What are Smart Home Systems?

Smart home systems refer to a variety of different and overlapping electrical and wireless systems that will enable a smart home or a smart house to function as a combined whole unit.

Central to understanding the nature of the systems is an understanding of the basis of what a smart home is and the various technologies that underpin it. The idea of a smart home has been around for a long time, in fact in many ways it is one of the oldest science fiction dreams that is on the verge of becoming a reality.

The typical scenario that shows the potential of a smart home normally involves someone driving home from work in their smart car. As they approach their home, their smart car communicates with their garage, and their garage doors open automatically as they arrive.

In addition, as they arrive home, their smart car will connect with their home, their lights will automatically come on within the home, their heating will come on and so will their appropriate kitchen devices, such as their oven waiting to pre-cook their dinner.

A further scenario includes their groceries being delivered at the exact moment they arrive home.

Smart home systems

This has happened because that smart refrigerator has realised that they are running low on certain items, has automatically contacted their local grocery store who have assembled the items and delivered them automatically to their home.

The grocery store new when to deliver them by accessing the drivers online calendar and working out the exact point when they would be home.

In addition the grocery store would automatically charge the amount of the groceries to the drivers credit card, which they have on account, and the amount on the credit card would be automatically debited from the drivers bank account through an online banking facility.

A few years ago, this scenario or these scenarios would have seemed far-fetched. Today they are the verge of becoming a reality for anyone who wants them. Quite literally billions of devices are being fitted with sensors that will allow them to connect to each other wirelessly over the internet, a scenario commonly referred to as the internet of things.

Smart home systems tend to be the various types of systems that would be used within a smart home such as an alarm system, a security system, a lighting control system, an audio system, a technology system and perhaps even a complete smart phone system.

In addition that will need to be a smart home management system both to coordinate all these activities, and to be able to manage them in the event of any one of them not working.  At the moment it is anticipated that the systems are will be controlled through an app or apps through someone’s smart phone, but this could well change in the future.

The push by the big tech companies to move to voice recognition technology seems to imply that this is their preferred mode of co-ordinating the mechanics of a smart home. What is perhaps being overlooked is the cyber security implications and risks inherent within any such system.

What is a Smart Home Security System?

Most people would probably give slightly different answer to the question of what is a home security system, let alone a smart home security system.

Any security system in a home is often thought of largely as an alarm system, possibly coupled nowadays with various types of CCTV cameras and other types of technology that can alert and detect intruders.

A home security system certainly can be that, but can also be a lot more.

The traditional method of securing a home has always been locks and mortar.

As time has gone on, technology has allowed more and more sophisticated devices to let people believe that home is safer.

A smart home, both now and in the future, is one where essentially all the systems and devices in the home can connect or talk to each other wirelessly, and can be centrally controlled either through a smart phone app or some type of voice recognition system.

Inevitably a smart home security system will consist of a combination of locks on windows and doors that can be controlled wirelessly, as well as a combination of burglar alarms, CCTV cameras and various other security devices.

Smart home security system

The proponents of a smart home security system will argue that the combination of all these factors, and the fact that they can be coordinated and controlled through a central wireless system makes the whole process of safeguarding and securing a home much easier.

That can certainly be debated, but to an extent misses the point.

While there certainly may be some advantages from a convenience view point of the ability to co-ordinate various connected devices, it does also leave someone’s home much more vulnerable to the possibility of being hacked.

The idea of cyber security and internet safety is one that most people are probably aware of, even if it is only the notion of computer viruses and computer malware.

Most people who have a PC or tablet in their home are likely to have some type of antivirus software installed, may or may not have a firewall activated and most likely don’t take the risk of being hacked to seriously.

The scenario changes significantly in the event of a smart home existing, and a smart home security system being the main or only line of defence against any intruder or unwelcome visitor.

There are already many anecdotal instances of baby monitor alarms being hacked by individuals who then use that device to say things and shout things that will upset or disturb the baby or child near the device.

Whilst these reports are certainly disturbing in themselves, they should also be disturbing to the manufacturers of these devices.

The vulnerability of these devices lies not only in the devices themselves, but in the continual upgrades they will need over their lifetime in order to keep them secure.

What is an IoT Platform

In order to understand an IOT platform, it is first necessary to understand what IOT means, both literally and in terms of its implications for the future world, both business and personal in the next five or 10 years.

IOT stands quite simply for the Internet of things.

This is a phrase that has been around for a long time, but is rapidly coming to fruition and is likely to dominate the way people, places and things communicate with each other in the future.

The internet of things is quite simply in a way the process of  how devices are wirelessly connected to each other, producing what is quite often referred to as areas such as a smart home or a smart car.

The scenario of a smart home has been around for a while in the realms of science fiction, but is now becoming a reality.

All household devices are being fitted with sensors that will allow them to be wirelessly connected to the Internet.

In addition cities are being fitted with sensors that will allow them to track cars, bicycles and all forms of  transportation.

The clothes that people wear, the food they eat, where they live, where they work, how they get to work, where they do their shopping, where they go on holiday, how they pay for their life etc will soon all be linked together online.

IOT PLATFORM

To many people this seems like a joyful existence, to many others a living nightmare. In either event the networked world will soon become a reality whether people like it or not, driven in large part by businesses and companies .

They will be to make huge savings by effectively automating a number of processes, and by ruthlessly mining  big data, which is essentially the information that will be generated by all these devices talking to each other.

And IOT platform is essentially a platform that will allow this to happen. There are currently estimated to be 3 or 400 IOT platforms, some proprietary, some open source and some big players such as Amazon, Google and Microsoft.

At the moment and IOT platform can mean different things to different people.

The development of these platforms has been compared to the growth of the Internet in its early stages, where Netscape and Microsoft tried to establish dominance of browsers and  Yahoo and Altavista tried to dominate the search market.

At the moment it is most impossible to identify specifically what an IOT platform is for this particular reason. As time goes on and devices develop, the infrastructure will inevitably grow around them.