Ram Dixit (India) - Smart Home Hub: Digital Convergence (Part 2)

In the final part of his two-part series on smart home technology, Ram Dixit explores the ways that tomorrow's connected home can be enabled.

In part one of this post, published here, I explored the smart home technologies that are becoming more desirable and more widespread across India and the world. This final part of the article looks at how we can enable these technologies in our homes.

There is a need for a standardized smart home hub, associated smart home STBs and smart home apps (software), to save duplicate functions across many devices and gadgets. Further, by leveraging mobile gadgets, the overall number of devices in the house can be reduced.

A smart home hub and associated STBs and apps would implement digital convergence of communications, infotainment, security, and control functions of a connected home. It would help save money with reduced power bills, reduced water bills and reduced communications and infotainment bills. It also improves convenience for users. It would reduce the number of gadgets and devices by optimally utilizing the extensive functions of mobile devices. Overall a smart home hub and associated STBs and apps may have following capabilities:

•    Smart grid: Utilize UV solar panels, store power in lead acid batteries, and then through inverters, voltage stabilizers and spike busters, supply uninterrupted power to the house leveraging low power LED lamps, help consume less power from mains supply.
•    Solar water heater control: Automatically control electric geysers on cloudy days when there isn’t enough hot water from solar water heater.
•    Water pump control: Monitor and control amount of water drawn from public supply by leveraging water harvested from rain, bore-well and control the pump that supplies water to overhead tank.
•    Filtered water control: Ensure enough drinking water is available by automatically operating water filter and filtered water storage.
•    LPG gas cylinders control: Monitor usage of cooking gas and switch on back-up cylinder when main-cylinder gets empty and order next cylinder automatically
•    Home surveillance: Monitor house from external and internal cameras hidden at vantage points. Users can monitor the video (real-time or recorded) on their smart phones away from home. Using secured doors and windows any attempt to break into the house can be monitored and alarmed, directly to home owners and optionally to police control rooms.
•    Appliance and lights control: Automation as well as remote control of certain appliances like air-conditioners, exterior lights, passage lights, etc.,
•    Wi-Fi LAN: Provide Internet connectivity anywhere in the house to Wi-Fi enabled devices.
•    Cordless phone system: Land-line calls can be received anywhere in the house.
•    Digital storage system: Music, video, photos and documents can be centrally stored for access from anywhere.
•    Digital recorder: Programmed/remote recording of TV and FM radio programs.
•    Home broadcast system: FM radio, DTH TV as well as on-demand content stored in digital storage system can be consumed over Wi-Fi LAN within the house.
•    Home server: Intranet web applications and smart home apps can be served over Wi-Fi LAN within the house or accessed over Internet if required.
•    Printer/scanner control: Transfer files and initiate printing/scanning wirelessly.
•    Charging bay: Charging of mobile devices and batteries can be centralized here.

With a smart home hub, associated STBs, apps, and smart mobile devices with Wi-Fi connectivity, the number of devices can be reduced to minimal and convenience of accessing functions across the house can be improved. For example there is no need to buy separate UPS, home PC, water pump controllers, cordless base station, ADSL modem, Wi-Fi access point, DVRs, and many other futuristic controllers. Savings of power and water can be accomplished and security of the house can be enhanced.

Just like when we set up a new home, we are used to buying a TV, phone, UPS, etc. We would then buy a smart home hub, with associated STBs and apps for better convenience and savings around the house. There is a huge opportunity for technology companies to design, develop, manufacture and introduce standardized smart home hub, with associated STBs and apps for the Indian market.

By Ram Dixit, principal architect with technology, media and entertainment group of Mahindra Satyam.