The answer is NO.  Initially you might think that's surprising coming from someone in the industry but there's an important distinction between:

  • Home Automation
  • Connected Home
  • Intelligent Home
  • Smart Home


The idea of Home Automation has been around for a long time and at its simplest means something like turning on a light on when a motion sensor is triggered.  That's easy to understand but not much use - sitting still whilst watching TV is a nuisance for example and then you get dragged into deciding well let's leave the light on for 15+ minutes from each motion-sensed and other ways of logically deciding behaviour.  

These ideas stem from the idea that technology is a labor-saving device so mitigates the 'effort' of turning the light on/off which frankly really isn't that difficult.  So it's not automation that I'm looking for.

The term Connected Home comes next.  Arguably a large proportion of the Western World are now 'Connected' even if we complain about not always being able to stream Netflix.  Having things Connected is just the first step – what matters is what you do with the connection and that needs to be more than connection just for the sake of connection – internet-enabled baby monitors aren't all that relevant when really you are probably in the home, or at least within low-range wireless distance to be able to react to a crying toddler. 

The Intelligent Home is a more useful term although we're probably all fed up with the promise of AIl and things trying to "learn" about our behavior and not get it right – the Learning Thermostats for example are never going to be right with our hectic lifestyles so those that instead Monitor for location are probably going to be more useful.

It becomes more interesting to start to combine these different elements of Automation, Connection, Intelligence.  A home alarm system is automated – an alarm panel arms/disarms the system, a motion or door sensor causes a siren and annoys the neighbours.  If it's Connected, then that can originate a call to the police or a security monitoring firm.  If it's Intelligent, it'll be able to provide more information about which sensor was triggered and use a camera to record the action. 

The home security system evolves into being a Service to the homeowner – it's not the action of a siren being triggered that has a benefit.  Similarly, the home has other services provided to it – energy, insurance, telecoms, safety, maintenance/servicing.  A butler doesn't quite sum it up but comes close.

The term Smart Home is the all-encompassing definition – it's the combination of automation, connection and intelligence.  In the example of home security, the event of being broken into can be pre-empted by making the home appear lived-in, making the home react wildly if it is broken into and the service can combine security management with the insurance proposition.  But insurance covers not just security but also fire damage, water leak damage or appliance warranties and so the Smart Home can accommodate those areas too.  The Smart Home is a complete set of scenarios able to span all sorts of services to the home.


Blog by: nCube Home

Sponsors - NEC