Homes in Mumbai, Pune and Bengaluru are going the e-way, making life easier for the occupants. Hemant Datta gives you insights into a relatively unexplored facet of home safety
Visualise this. You are holidaying on serene beaches of Maldives and suddenly you realise that you might not have switched off the air-conditioner of your house in Mumbai properly. What will you do? If you are ‘smart’ enough, you can just move your fingers on your phone to ensure that everything is all right.
Yes, this can happen if you own a smart home, which will help you to use your phone not to call anyone but manage it to check whether all is well with your dream home.Some years ago, some people used to say that these kind of automation homes were meant only for IT and software executives. But, with the advent of smart phones, once the luxury for the elite has now become the necessity for every home buyer. Nowadays, the techno savvy home buyer is not only looking at extra space, garden, swimming poll, club house and parking, but also at what kind of automation features he gets. As the name suggest, it’s a smart way of living where a click gets things rolling and you can save your valuable time.
What is a smart home?
A smart home essentially involves security, convenience and comfort. Numerous automation features can be accessed through a wireless network using smart phone. These features can be divided into different categories -- light control, safety features, temperature control and entertainment. Lights in an apartment can be automated to turn on as soon as one is home and turn off in case a room is unoccupied for a certain period. They can also be programmed to turn on at sunset and off at daybreak. From the security point of view, residents can receive email alerts in case a window is left open or the apartment is not locked properly. You can have a finger identification door, or a camera to photograph all visitors.
Even if you are away, you can keep an eye on the flat through Internet protocol cameras. The entire house can be locked with a touch on the touch screen monitor on the wall, and all security features can be accessed from a configured mobile phone. Inside the rooms, window shades can be programmed to adjust for maximum energy efficiency based on the time of day or outside temperature, which helps save some energy.
More power to you
The total energy consumption of the house can also be monitored. The interface allows the residents to see real-time energy use as well as current costs, and projected monthly costs. The technology has advanced so much that you can keep an eye on your kids playing outside by just sitting inside your home. Smart homes also considerably reduce the dependence on servants as much of it is taken care of automatically.
Some years ago, only a few companies had the expertise to deliver smart homes but today the number of manufacturers and service providers has grown, thereby softening the prices to an extent. This has brought in a level of affordability for smart homes although the segment buying such homes still remains niche. The popularity is definitely growing due to more exposure and as a result of more awareness.
"In the past, they were largely luxury offerings, and there was a considerable premium attached to homes with ‘smart’ features which varied according to how many ‘smart’ features were included in the project. Today, however, many of the developers catering to this segment have successfully right-sized and right-priced their projects, thereby managing to draw a much larger demand," said Kishor Pate, CMD, Amit Enterprises Housing Ltd.
Pate also added that smart homes tend to have higher resale value both because of their locations and features and can make life simpler for those who know how to exploit these features.
Individual vs society
Interestingly, more societies are going in for complete home automation. This is definitely far more beneficial than implementing it in individual homes.
It’s a point of view with which Vijay Jadhav, a Pune resident agrees. “Individually it’s a very costly affair to go in for a smart home, although people are doing it,” he says. “But a society approach gives more justice to implement the concept of smart homes and also proves more economical and beneficial. Individual homes also limit the scope of implementation of smart devices. In a society, from entry-exit to lobby, car-parking, solar water heaters, landscaped gardens, smart card access and many other facilities can be implemented. So, a society gives more scope to accommodate technical advancements, also easing the cost structure,” Jadhav explains.
How smart homes can enhance security
Monitor front gates/doors, pool/spa areas with low light security/surveillance cameras and digital video recorders.
Single-key illumination of all indoor or outdoor slights.
Heat or smoke detectors that activate security and lights, while turning off ceiling fans and exhaust fans to slow fire.
Detailed reporting to central monitoring station.
SMS reporting to your mobile phone as well.
Safer low voltage wiring to home automation wall switches in bathrooms, kitchens and other damp areas.