March 22, 2017 | Written by: Karen Lewis
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Are you interacting with your home as a person? By 2022, 500 smart devices will be present in a typical family home.  Interacting with a machine can be very human and personal. When you interact with a smart home, you are interacting with something that can detect your moods, is capable of looking out for you, and that knows your rhythms.
The intelligent machines around us
It’s happening already with products in the home – where smart homes have eyes and ears. You can walk in through your front door and speak to it. Remarkably, because of IoT connectivity, it responds to what you ask, but more than that, it can use contextual information to make adjustments to lighting, music, and temperature – all of which can impact the experience of a home’s occupants.
A smart home is equipped with eyes and ears
The smart home is equipped with human qualities – it senses and uses voice, sight, touch, even a sense of smell. The home can very much emulate its owner’s personality –be distinct from other homes – using traits and characteristics that can develop as your home interacts with you.
For some of us who have grown up with technology, we are very quick to adapt to new technology, and to install and use it to our advantage. But for other people, adoption and continued use of new technology is dependent on the perceived value they derive from the experience. How willing a user is to give up their data in exchange for a specific capability, service or convenience is relative to how much they find using the new technology.
Simplify and improve experiences
Integrated rooms, devices and services in the home can simplify and improve the life of residents. Whether in the connected, cognitive kitchen, living room or garage, residents can better manage their home and family life with IoT.
An intelligent home can make us happier. If you are able to walk into a room where lighting is triggered by weather or your mood, it can make a difference to an individual’s well-being. If a child awakens in the night, rather than waking in the dark, a soft light could be triggered to come on, either to reassure them after a disruptive dream, or to ensure when they shuffle off to use the toilet they aren’t bumping into furniture.
There are devices which can be customized for each member of the household – lighting that allows children to choose their favourite colour – that glows when they enter a room. A child might be sitting near a lamp using a colour they selected. Seasonal disorders can affect many people – the lack of lighting in winter months can cause distress, and disrupt natural circadian cycles. Intelligent lighting can be used to assist that person who suffers from lack of UV lighting.
Health and wellness
Connected home sensors, data and alerts can improve the health and wellness of residents, and equip caregivers, health providers and concerned family members with the tools they need to monitor and care for residents.
An instrumented home can see and sense patterns in our behaviour. An elderly parent or grandparent experiencing cognitive decline, or a change in a daily routine can be detected simply because we are able to monitor typical actions they might take on a daily basis. It doesn’t need to be an invasive monitoring using cameras – it can be as simple us monitoring the use of the kettle, or how many times a toilet is flushed.
The ability to detect anomalies in use of everyday items can signal something has changed. A sensor can be installed in the toilet to detect if it has been flushed too little, or too often. Changes in normal routines could mean something is amiss. If an aging parent habitually makes a cup of tea every day before 10 am, then suddenly it doesn’t happen, a notification can be sent via text message to alert someone to call and check if things are alright. In a non-intrusive manner, the instrumented home can give us insight into how we can keep our elderly parents in their home living comfortably, by using IoT as an assistive technology.
Energy and cost management
The connected home uses data to provide residents with greater transparency and the ability to analyze their consumption of energy and other home services or resources. The connected home can even make recommendations to help residents conserve resources and manage cost.
In the instance of utilities monitoring – whether it’s heating, water or electricity – monitoring home use can indicate where savings can be made, or indeed, where problems could occur in future. Spikes in electricity could indicate issues with electrical components in appliances – not only could this mitigate risk of fire or damage, it could also help to identify which appliances are not running optimally.
Risk, safety and security
The connected home combines capabilities such as video and audio, biometric sensors, presence detectors, leak detectors, and smoke, fire and air quality sensors to reduce risk of accidents or security problems. The connected home can even alert residents, first responders and insurers if an adverse event does happen. The value of the data coming from the instrumented home can be used in commercial settings too – with data and insight shared with insurance organizations in order to make more accurate assessments of risk.
Data in context provides opportunities for more accurate pricing for organizations like insurance companies. For the individual who chooses to share that data with the insurance company, they may benefit from lower premiums. By looking at patterns in terms of windows and door locks and access; monitoring appliances for use – did the washing machine really flood the bathroom floor, or was it the tub – risk management from a distance can become more accurate.
The Smart Home Webinar Series
To help you realize the potential of the smart home by understanding and acting on data from the Internet of Things, Intel® & IBM® have teamed up to run a Smart Home Webinar Series.Join Intel® & IBM® for a three-part webinar series focused on the hardware, software and security requirements for basic smart homes and communities.
IoT Introduction: Smart Home basics with Intel® & IBM®
Now available on demand!
Devices in and around our homes are becoming more connected, resulting in smart homes that can lead to smart communities. See a practical, smart home demo and learn how IoT technology from Intel® and IBM® can lead to an environmentally friendly community.
Smart Home Data Analytics with Intel® and IBM®
Tuesday, March 28th, 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM PST (1:00 PM – 2:00 PM EST, 5:00 PM – 6:00 PM GMT)
Building on the smart home fundamentals presented in the first webinar, Intel® and IBM® experts will guide you through collecting sensor data and analyzing the data in order to determine when a sprinkler system should run.
Introduction to IoT Security with Intel® and IBM®
Tuesday, April 4th, 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM PST (1:00 PM – 2:00 PM EST, 5:00 PM – 6:00 PM GMT)
Smart homes and the individual devices in them allow for new efficiencies by connecting data previously held in disparate locations. Unfortunately, because of this connectedness, these same devices also open users up to new privacy and security risks
Register to attend the Smart Home Webinar Series
Here’s how to register for new webinars, and find the on demand webinars from the series too.
It’s easy to take Watson IoT home
Not quite ready for the webinars? With IBM Watson IoT, you can enhance the customer (i.e. resident) experience, improve operational performance, develop new business models, and increase environmental sustainability.
Please take a few minutes to explore how IoT and cognitive solutions are changing everyday lives. Download 10 ways cognitive is shaping the future of smart buildings
 The Future Smart Home: 500 Smart Objects Will Enable New Business Opportunities, Gartner, 2014.