A refrigerator that senses when you need groceries.Lights that turn on or change colour at your command. A thermostat that learns your schedule and just how warm (or cool) you like your home. A camera-mounted doorbell and lock system controlled by your phone.
There are lots of examples of intelligent smart home technology. So many, in fact, that Microsoft predicts the 30 million or so devices we’ll connect to our homes by 2020 will generate upwards of 50GB of data every day. But before we can call them truly “intelligent” or “smart”, there’s just one gap we need to fill in.
Sure, smart devices aim to make our lives easier and richer. Convenience is a huge draw for smart home adopters, as is security, sustainability, and even entertainment. That smart fridge certainly saves you time and effort on grocery day. But it only senses the stuff inside the door. It doesn’t fully understand you, where you are, and where you’re going.
Same for those lights and that thermostat. They get to know your schedule, and they learn what you like, but they can’t tell when you’ve entered a room. You still have to tell them what to do.
While we’re well on our way to having truly smart homes and spaces, we still need to plug human context into the equation.
ADDING THE HUMAN INTO THE EQUATION WITH WIFI MOTION™
At its most basic, a smart home system contains two parts: sensors that pick up stimuli from the environment around them, and actuators that make something happen in our places and spaces.
When we link those sensors and actuators together, we get closer to achieving a truly smart home. And when we add the ultimate trigger – where you are physically in your home – well, now we’re on the right path.
Most devices out there are actuator-heavy and sensor-light, though. And for those that have a sensor system, it tends to be a complex one with lots of arrays, a high up-front cost and a whole process around installation and maintenance.
It turns out, most of us have something in our home already that provides sensory coverage that other devices can link to, and we use it every day: our wireless routers. And by detecting changes in the radio signals that happen as we move through our homes, it can do a reliable and robust job of sensing us, providing that context our devices crave.
WHY HUMAN CONTEXT MATTERS
Adding that layer of intelligence and context is what we’re all about at Cognitive Systems, as the creator of WiFi Motion.
The ultimate trigger in a truly intelligent home isn’t what you program your devices to do, or even what you tell them to do. It’s your presence.
It’s one thing to have a lighting system that brightens and dims on command; it’s another to have one that knows when you walk in the room and learns what to do when that happens.
It’s one thing to tell your voice assistant to play your favourite podcast while you’re cleaning; it’s another for that podcast to follow you as you move from room to room.
It’s one thing to install a series of security sensors to detect when a door or window has been breached; it’s another to monitor every inch of every room and understand what’s happening (with no additional hardware on top of your router, to boot).
It’s one thing to tell your smart thermostat to crank the air conditioner when you walk through the front door on a hot day; it’s another for your home to know what rooms it needs to heat or cool based on who’s in them.
We could go on – the possibilities borne from smart systems that sense us as well are many and varied. Suffice it to say, the end result is a home that isn’t just about the neat things you can do when you connect your toaster to your snooze button (although that pre-made morning toast sounds pretty good), but also about understanding us and our surroundings to make better decisions and take relevant actions.
Only when technologies like WiFi Motion provide that added awareness, learning and personalization that come from our presence and movement will we be able to say we’re living in a “smart” home.