Smart Home

Controlling your home by voice, automating domestic tasks and controlling how objects in your home work in real time without even being there might all have seemed like the stuff of science fiction just a few years ago. However, they're now part of our daily lives thanks to the smart home concept. The smart home is very much a reality: there are more than 8 billion connected objects already in use and according to predictions by the US research firm Gartner, there will be more than 20.5 billion by 2020.

The beginnings of the smart home: home automation

Looking back, the first home automation applications emerged at the start of the 1980s. Right from the beginning, the goal was to make people's lives easier by automating small everyday tasks and controlling the start-up of various devices. Although the idea was already to improve domestic comfort by fostering interactions between objects and their environment, getting the various components of a home automation system to communicate with each other required elaborate wiring that was difficult to set up and expensive. This is undoubtedly why it didn't really take off.

Until the internet came along, home automation was based on a three-part system: a central computer for managing automated scenarios, sensor-triggers and actuators that start up the devices included in a scenario. Each of these components communicated with the central computer through cables or via radio waves, infrared or magnetic fields.

Although these connections are still used today, they have largely been replaced by new technologies. As such, the internet and in particular Wi-Fi have led to the widespread popularisation of home automation and the Internet of Things, while app-based management on a smartphone or tablet has gradually replaced other types of controls. Discover all our products

The smart home within reach

One of the big new developments of recent years has been the Internet of Things, or objects and devices that can be remotely controlled using the internet via an app and Wi-Fi. This wireless technology allows you to control various smart devices on a computer, smartphone or tablet. With a smart home system, you can control each of these connected objects separately or all together. The ease of use of new technologies has revolutionised home automation: whereas only technicians or ardent enthusiasts used to be able to manage a home automation system, anyone can now control connected objects using their smartphone. This is why the smart home is sometimes referred to as home automation 2.0.

The other big new development in the smart home universe comes from another recent innovation: voice assistants. Software interfaces like Google Assistant, Amazon's Alexa and Apple's Siri use cutting-edge artificial intelligence technologies that let you control your smartphone using your voice and have gradually entered our homes through smart speakers and devices: Google Home, Amazon Echo, etc. It's estimated that more than 700 million people used this type of interface in 2017, a figure that looks set to grow exponentially over the coming years. Given the size of the market, every major group (Amazon, Google, Microsoft, Apple, etc.) is competing to connect as many apps and services as possible.

The smart home: comfort, security and energy savings

Today, the smart home allows you to control a whole range of services at home using your fingers or voice: switching on the heating, putting on some music, closing the blinds, dimming the lights, turning on the alarm, switching off the TV, etc. Generally speaking, the smart home is developing around three core areas of innovation:
  • Energy savings, including optimised heating management
    * Security, with smart cameras, locks and alarms
    * Comfort through air quality management, entertainment and cutting the amount of time spent on tedious tasks (organisation, housework, etc.)
The smart home is both big business for companies that develop smart solutions and an opportunity for users to improve their domestic comfort. The number of products concerned will continually grow and the competition between various companies will foster constant innovation in these technologies. The market intelligence firm Tractica puts the number of voice assistant users at 1.8 billion by 2021.

Thanks to artificial intelligence, it's likely that the smart home will progress even further in terms of innovation in the coming years. The idea is that the voice assistants of the future will become proactive and suggests changes to users' environment: completing a shopping list and ordering missing products from a smart fridge on the internet, opening the windows when the level of CO2 or particles suspended in the air becomes too high, etc. It's also likely that in the near future every apartment building will be equipped with all of these services to manage security, heating, lighting or energy consumption, and that every home will have its own virtual home assistant to provide everyone with personalised solutions.

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