Smart Homes – AI powered IoT

Imagine this:

It’s Monday morning, the alarm goes off at 7:30 a.m.because it knows you have work, so it crafts out the necessary amount of time you need to get ready and be on time. You are reluctant to get out of your warm, cozy bed, and the first thing you do is reach for your phone. With a few taps, you scheduled your coffee to start brewing so that it can be ready before you leave for work. As you crawl out of bed, the lights turn on automatically to a low-intensity level and your shower starts running at the exact temperature and pressure of your liking. The thermostat adjusts itself to a comfortable room temperature as you begin your day. “Hey Alexa, play my morning playlist on Spotify”.

As you leave the house, the lights automatically turn off, the thermostat adjusts to energy saving mode, and your (iRobot) Roomba begins its daily vacuuming routine. You start your car, and it instantly maps out the best route to get to work. From your office, you can monitor your home via your phone and get immediate notifications if there are any gas or water leakage.

This is a snippet of what living in a modern smart home feels like.

smart home

Let’s quickly differentiate between AI and IoT

Internet of Things (IoT) evolved from machine-to-machine communications, enabling an ecosystem of interrelated of physical devices, sensors, network, platform, and services to transfer data that can provide insight and drive improvements. Smart devices are objects that can enhance the interaction both people and other Smart Objects. 

iot.pngIn smart homes, your devices communicate with each other and with you. For example, when your car arrives outside the garage, it will communicate with the garage to open the door. IoT collects terabytes of machine data, but it can’t process it. So what’s turning the gigantic amount of data into action? Artificial Intelligence.

 

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a branch of computer science that aims to create intelligent machines.2 Machine learning (ML) is a part of AI that “trains” machines to become more intelligent by feeding it huge amounts of data. For example, Roomba, a popular robotic vacuum cleaner, is powered by AI to scan the floorplan of different living spaces. For the first few times using Roomba in a new space, you’ll notice that it will keep bumping into walls and other objects, but it will quickly identify the obstacles in the room and remember the most efficient route for it to maneuver the space.

What’s so great about AI is that machines can then make their own decisions. In this case, after Roomba scans the size of the room, it will determine how many times it should clean it. When it’s low on battery, it will bring itself to the charging station.AI

AI is the brain and IoT is the body

Data is beneficial, but it’s useless if it cannot provide insight. IoT collects data based on physical interactions with the external environment. AI processes the endless amount of data streamed in from smart devices, analyze it, identify and understand the patterns, then makes an informed decision through real-time feedback so that the devices can implement quickly and efficiently.

Let’s use Nest Lab’s home automation devices as an example. You can control the Nest thermostat from your smartphone, but the device will eventually pick up your temperature preferences during different times of the day so that it can automatically self-adjust without your interaction. It will also adapt to your work schedule so that it can turn down the energy use. Nest products use sensors and algorithms to learn about you. They also communicate with each other to protect you and your home. For instance, if Nest Protect senses carbon dioxide leakage, it will signal the Nest thermostat to turn off the furnace, which may have caused the leakage, and tells the smart light bulbs to flash red lights so it can warn anyone who’s in the house.

ai and iot.jpg
Pros and Cons

Smart homes powered by AI and IoT are great because it makes your home life a lot easier. Systems that control the temperature, stoves, and lights in the house can cut down energy usage and your bills that come along with it. You can customize your home and have it make some smart decisions around the house for you.

smart-home-chart

Unfortunately, the convenience of having smart devices also come with great cost. Quality devices cost hundreds of dollars each, and getting them installed by a professional also comes with a fee. Some devices may not compatible if it is not bought from the same brand. For example, all Nest products are compatible with each other, but if you buy an item from another home automation brand, then it may not sync up to the same system. It is important to note that all these devices are heavily dependent on your wifi router. Their performances may lack or they may completely shut down if there is a poor connection.

The most common concerns regarding smart homes are privacy and security. Device manufacturers have access to data on homeowner’s personal living preferences and their daily routines. That same information can be accessed by hackers due to security flaws in the systems. They may breach the system and break into your house. However, as the demand for smart home devices continues to grow, companies are improving their devices to increase security and performance to build consumer trust.

 

A majority of the U.S, population are heavily reliant on WiFi. We are becoming more and more dependent on technology for the convenience they bring to our daily lives. It’s both creepy and cool to know that machines can now think for us and tailor our lives better than we can.

Sources:
https://www.techemergence.com/artificial-intelligence-plus-the-internet-of-things-iot-3-examples-worth-learning-from/
https://www.homeadvisor.com/cost/electrical/install-or-repair-a-home-automation-system/
https://www.forbes.com/sites/andrewweinreich/2018/02/08/the-future-of-the-smart-home-how-homes-powered-by-artificial-intelligence-will-know-care-for-you/#6b8482489749
https://www.securitysales.com/research/wifi-routers-smart-home-hubs-increase-dependence-connectivity/
https://www.wired.com/insights/2014/11/iot-wont-work-without-artificial-intelligence/

 

8 thoughts on “Smart Homes – AI powered IoT

  1. Nice post. Thanks for introducing the idea of IoT. I agree that more and more people will use the smart home system in the future. With the smart home system, people’s lives can become much more comfortable, and people will spend less time worrying about housework. However, what I’m concerning is the data that the smart home system will collect. Home is the most private place for humans, and the smart home system can collect all the data from it. When the company is doing machine learning with the data collected by the smart home system, some unexpected and creepy results may occur.

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  2. Really interesting blog! I have always been fascinated by smart homes since watching the movie Smart House. I believe that many people will trade in security concerns for comfort and ease in the home, as is the trend with many other technologies. It is interesting the importance of the smart product’s brand in communicating with other parts of the house. First mover advantage will play a large role in the success of smart home companies. I am excited to see more and more smart home tech and definitely want my future home to incorporate it! Thanks for sharing!

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  3. Captivating blog post! I loved the opening to your post of describing a smart home, and to me there was definitely a utopian feel! I learned about the IoT in a communications class I took last year, and was easily engaged by the concept. Smart homes definitely border the creepy/cool line in my opinion, since smart homes seem to know just about everything about you. I do also wonder about the idea of relying even more heavily on WiFi, as you touched on in your closing comments, and the dependency this will create.

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  4. Great post! I would absolutely love to wake up in a smart home like the one you described to open your blog. Your point about compatibility is really important in my opinion, as I don’t think we’ll be able to have great smart homes like the one you described until it is truly seamless and easy for the average, non-tech savvy consumer to set up and use these features. However, I think that as millennials age, just like Wayfair expects more people to buy furniture online, many will design their new homes with these technologies in mind. The future is bright for the smart home!

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  5. I think one of the big downsides is not only the data, but the actual ability to “look inside” your homes in real time. I actually got an Echo show, but will only keep it in the kitchen and will cover up the camera.

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  6. Great post, Angela! It was helpful that you introduced and compared AI and IoT before diving into the idea of smart homes! This topic reminds of the Black Mirror episode, where the character sacrifices a bit of herself in order to get more comfort and luxury. It is crazy and scary to think that in the future, our homes will essentially know our routines and track our every moment. The products that fill our homes (and the companies that made them) can tailor everything to our needs, but it also takes our data with them.

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  7. Great post, Angela! The scene you set to introduce the blog seemed so luxurious, but is definitely on the creepy cool line since almost all aspects of the morning routine are controlled my technology. As technology continues to infiltrate everyday life in the near future, we will look back and realize how archaic our lives are today. I really enjoyed the piece on Nest thermostats because I worked at a clothing store that used Nest thermostats over the summer, but had no idea what was going on with the technology behind the scenes. Thanks for sharing!

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  8. I read the first two lines of this post and was immediately hooked on the idea of a smart home. I liked how you distinguished between IoT, AI, and Machine-Learning because I think those jargon terms can get confused. I’m wondering about the key players in this space. I’m sure Amazon is already churning out plans to create all these smart home-devices that work seamlessly together to fit to your needs. But I’m wondering if companies would produce devices that would fit into a smart home or have real-estate companies and architects design a smart home altogether as a unit. Amazon Homes? That’s crazy, imagining Amazon going into real-estate industry for smart-homes.

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