Technology has drastically changed the way we work, why shouldn´t it affect the way we live? The age of smart homes has dawned and we are about to embark upon the journey of smart living.
You leave your home for a weekend getaway yet spend your much-deserved holiday wondering if you have locked the door properly, switched off the lights or put off the stove knob. Now imagine a scenario wherein you simply take out your smartphone and double check if everything in your home is safe and sound. Amazing, isn´t it? Welcome to the age of smart homes!
Technology is all set to transform the way we live and interact with our home, both from inside and outside. Conventional prosaic homes are being replaced by smart and intelligent residential spaces, with highly automatic systems for lighting, cooling, entertainment, security, cooking and even bathing. These functions can communicate with each other and can be controlled remotely.
Convenience, comfort, entertainment, security and conservation of natural resources are the buzz words in these smart homes. A host of innovative gadgets make it all possible such as lighting controls with dimmers, mood lighting and motion sensors, finger touch locks, a parenting monitor, a plant monitor, a sensor that detects and alerts water leaks, hands-free faucets, a refrigerator that catalogues its contents and suggest menus, and a security system with motion sensors that detects unauthorized movement and notifies the user.
Many of these remarkable solutions are gaining popularity in India too, albeit at a slow pace.
According to Allied Market Research, the global home automation market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 29.5 per cent from 2013 to 2020, with Asia Pacific the fastest growing market at around 38 per cent CAGR. The smart home concept is evidently moving centerstage and demand for wireless devices and ´connected homes´ is growing world over. According to market observers, in 2013, sales of wireless embedded smart home monitoring devices, including contact and motion sensors, smart thermostats and smart plugs, grew to 17.23 million, almost double the shipments in 2012. By 2018, more than half-a-billion wireless smart home monitoring devices will be deployed in homes around the world. In 2013, the US had 1.48 million households with smart home systems, and is expected to escalate to 15.03 million by 2019.
´The global market is witnessing a significant growth due to an increasing demand for enhanced home security and energy efficient solutions,´ reveals Prasenjeet Bhattacharyya, Business Head-Security and Mobility, Panasonic India. ´Some of the key drivers for this growth include the increased penetration of portable devices, which is also a major enabler for smart home appliances, leading to a drastic increase in digital access technologies. In addition, leading players in the telecom sector, utility service providers and appliance manufacturers are also providing smart home devices´
According to industry professionals, the home automation market in India is also growing with applications such as security, lighting and energy management playing an important role in the growth.
´The key factors that are influencing this shift are evolution of the consumer mind-set, rise in disposable household income and an increased tendency to spend. The Indian consumer has evolved over the last few years to not only be more conscious of the environment, but also be cognizant to the impact of good lighting. They are now open to adopting new technology and making expensive purchases that are value for money, even over a period of time,´ says Naveen Saxena, Country Head, Opple Lighting India.
Less dependence on domestic labour and demand for applications that save time, pro¡vide comfort and security are cited as some of the reasons behind smart home solutions gaining ground in India, though the demand is confined to metros like Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru and Hyderabad. Lack of awareness, high implementation costs, complexity of systems, reluctance among non-tech savvy segment of the population are factors inhibiting the market growth.
Some reputed developers are also exploring the market particularly for their projects in the high end segment including names like Raheja, Sobha, Lodha and Hiranandani. ´Smart homes are slowly but surely gaining momentum in India. A sharp rise in disposable income, coupled with growth of nuclear families and rising aspirations are driving the modern home buyer to spend extra for safety, security, comfort and style. Indian consumers are conscious about international trends and have a penchant for sophisticated features in their residences,´ avers Prashant Mirkar, General Manager, Marketing, House of Hiranandani, who has smart home properties in Egattur in Chennai, and Devanahalli, Hebbal and Bannerghatta in Bengaluru.
Mirkar elaborates on the smart home features provided in these projects: ´We used Fibre to the Home Technology (FTTH) for the first time in India in our Chennai project and later deployed it across all our projects. This is a broadband telecommunications system based on fibre optic cables and associated optical electronics for delivery of multiple advanced services such as telephone, broadband, Internet and television. Fibre optic cables ensure high internet speeds, support next generation services like IPTV, video on demand and home automation´. The FTTH technology also ensures skin-tight security to our residents. We have installed a tablet PC in every household to access services such as hospitals, school records, games and video calling within the campus.´
Conservation of natural resources is a vital feature of smart homes. Many home devices control and monitor energy consumption. A smart home can double up as an energy management system to enable power and cost savings.
´I compare a smart home with the Passivhaus (German term for passive house) in Europe. This is a drive towards creating a home that is totally energy efficient. The aim is to actually be a negative energy user, i.e. produce more energy than what is being consumed. Fenestration plays a key role in this. Here you would need to use thermally efficient frame materials, intelligently designed window systems and the right glazing material to give optimum thermal performance,´ states Maja Hoellrigl, President - Marketing & Operation, Encraft India.
Lighting control is one such system that plays a vital role here says Sameer Saxena , Vice President - Sales & Marketing, Legrand India. ´Lights that switch on and off on sensing movement and use of dimmers help save energy. Monitoring lets you know your power consumption on a daily basis and adjust the usage accordingly.´
The energy saved by adopting smart solutions can be significant reveals Manjul Trehan, Country Head & Director Sales, Lutron Electronics India & SAARC. ´An average household can save up to 60 per cent of lighting energy and 10-30 per cent of heating and cooling costs by adopting vari¡ous strategies such as occupancy sensing, daylight harvesting, personal dimming control, automated shading, plug load control and time scheduling. The running cost is substantially lower compared to the conventional systems. Dimming your lights by 25 per cent can save 20 per cent energy. Automated shades can help block harmful UV and solar heat gain, thus lowering energy consumption by air-conditioners.
A home automation system with total control of electric light and daylight will create a comfortable environment and save energy and money, while contributing to a greener planet.´
Smart homes no doubt offer interesting possibilities and can revolutionise the way houses are built and made to function. How far and how soon they will catch on in India remains to be seen.
Text: Janaki Krishnamoorthi
Sameer Saxena ,
Vice President - Sales & Marketing, Legrand India
The initial need for automation arose from security concerns largely for young kids when simple door phones were introduced in multi-apartment buildings. This has evolved into an IP door phone with a video and voicemail facility. Later automation extended to lighting associated with mood-lighting and energy saving. So, the trend changed to encompass both comfort and value in a balanced proportion.
Designing Doors and Windows
Maja Hoellrigl ,
President - Marketing & Operation, Encraft India
The latest trends in doors and windows in smart homes are focused on energy saving and optimum thermal performance. A variety of digital options are available for frames internationally, such as security alarm systems built into the frame, remote opening and closing, either programmable or via rain and heat sensors. Blinds within the sealed unit are a fashion internationally, too. Locking systems or security systems that can be controlled via a smart phone can be built into the frames and the cost of this is of course far greater than using standard locking.
General Manager, Marketing, House of Hiranandani
The luxury of seamless connectivity of devices, appliances and the possibility of control from a common point is what the global Indian consumer is aspiring for today. However, installing these smart systems is bound to increase the final cost of such homes by 8-10 percent depending on the brand and the applications used. Smart homes are a great option for people who are tech-savvy.
Country Head & Director Sales, Lutron Electronics India & SAARC
The ever-increasing demand for energy and increasing electricity costs have laid a solid foundation for energy-efficient solutions, even in home automation. Hence the move towards ´green-technology savvy homes´ has been predominant in the recent past. However, India is far behind due to poor awareness levels. Most home consumers still use light switches and are not aware of the advantages of using dimmers and energy-saving occupancy sensors. Many are still using manual shades instead of motorised ones, or integrated control system for lighting and shades. Integration with other systems like AV, HVAC, fire and security are uncommon.
Head - Brand Marketing India, Bosch & Siemens Home Appliances
Factors that make a kitchen smart are appliances that can tackle more than one household chore at a time, optimum utilisation of space and energy efficiency.
Jitender Pal, Director, Rudrabhishek Architects and Designers
Although the adoption of smart home concept is slow in India, the market has huge potentials. As new generation Indians are inclined towards technology, it is being predicted by experts that smart homes might become as popular as smart phones in India. An ardent upper middle class is creating the major demand. However, the concept is more focused on security and monitoring. Security related concepts and devices like fireproof designs, automatic detection, security cameras, alarm systems and automatic voice response are common in modern homes. Many developers are also integrating these features in their projects. However, a next generation experience such as customisation according to changing moods is gradually trending.
Country Head, Opple Lighting India
The technological advancements have made it possible to develop highly efficient lighting fixtures and automated controls that make adjustments based on various conditions such as occupancy or daylight availability apart from other practical and aesthetic purposes. Given the growing power needs in India, the key feature that will propel the growth of smart lighting will be its ability to minimise power consumption with the use of automatic light control through apps, remote controls and messaging and use of sensors for daylight and occupancy sensing. All of this will save a significant amount of energy (over 30%) compared to a conventional lighting system.
Business Head-Security and Mobility, Panasonic India
The security system market has become huge worldwide, mainly due to rising crime rates. In India, the penetration level of security solutions in the residential sector is witnessing rapid growth. However, there is a prevalent hedge due to the high cost of homes, expensive integrated hi-tech security systems and limited awareness. Due to market fragmentation and limited existing consumer adoption, there is little mainstream awareness of what is currently available in the security segment.
You want to sleep in on a Saturday but the sun´s rays hit you in the face. You settle into your favourite couch to watch TV and realise you haven´t turned off the light. Shaking off your drowsiness to draw the curtains or giving up your comfortable couch to switch off the lights is the only option for you. Right? Wrong! You can simply command and the action will be automatically done. This scenario is soon-to-be a reality at Raheja Ayana, Gurgaon, a residential project by Raheja Developers.
First-of-its-kind in the world, this artificial intelligence home or talking home is based on the voice activated automation system. ´The home automotive system, now being used in India and elsewhere, is restrictive as it requires the use of smart phone or an app with which many are not comfortable. In our system, you do not need a smart phone or an app. All you have to do is talk to the house and the smart house, installed with intelligent systems including micro sensors, speakers and microphones will answer you and act as per your instructions. The system can also extract data from the Internet. So, if you want to know what is the temperature outside your home you have to pose the question and the house will give you answers,´ explains Nayan Raheja, Executive Director, Raheja Developers Limited. As of now the house will recognise commands spoken only in English with an Indian accent.
Awaiting patent, this technology has been developed by Raheja in collaboration with a multinational tech company. The first prototype has been created and tested successfully and soon a sample talking flat will be ready at the project site. The project will be ready in two years.
´Presently the cost of implementing the system is 5 to 7 per cent of the total cost of the apartment but in the next one to two years we will be able to reduce it to 2 to 3 percent. The technology can be updated from time to time and more applications can be added in the future,´ reveals Raheja.
Going forward the talking home will become a built-in feature in many of Raheja´s luxury and middle segment projects.
Smart products for smart homes
Sun Solo from XD Design One can now charge one´s electric devices û from phones, tablets, cameras and MP3/MP4 players with solar power and save on electricity. Thanks to Sun Solo from XD Design launched in January this year. A light weight, shiny ABS in oven shape with a front touch panel, it can be carried anywhere. During the day, fix Sun Solo on to the window glass using the suction cap. A green LED light will turn on indicating that the device is collecting solar energy, which will be stored in the internal 2500 mAh Li-poly battery. A white LED indicator will show the status of power in the battery.
Price : € 28,24. Available in India with Mint Mobiles
Tel: (0)90072 36666
Radar from Opple
Radar with its unique light mixing technique and optics design comes equipped with infrared motion and occupancy sensor technology and senses ambience light. Radar works at its 100 percent power when there is no ambient light and someone steps into the room. When there is no ambient light and no occupancy or motion in the room, it will work on its 30 percent power consumption only, thus saving energy and costs. With the right light density, Radar uses 80 per cent less energy as compared to CFL lights and is ideal for rooms where lights are accidentally left on, like the balcony, corridor and hallway. Price: Rs.1,550.
Evoz Smart Parenting Monitor
Whether at work, away on business or simply shopping, parents can now keep a tab on their children at home via their Smartphone or tablet by simply using the Evoz Smart Parenting Monitor. This sleek revolutionary monitor has a HD Wifi camera with audio only option, nightlight control, video recording, image snapshot and alerts - SMS, push, email and in app. Its advanced features include lullaby, audio book playing, cry alerts, sleep log creation, baby data tracking, expert content, scrapbooking and much more. With complete iOS & Android applications dedicated for phone and tablets, it can be integrated with other connected home products. Not available in India but can be shipped. Price: $199.
TwinSash windows from Encraft
TwinSash is a contemporary, energy efficient UPVC window providing superior protection against heat transfer and is also dust and sound resistant. It can reduce noise levels by up to 45 dB due to Encraft´s unique and cost effective CFGI glazing solution. Consisting of two sashes joined by a deep outer frame section, a unique concept in UPVC, it has design compatibility with the Casement range that allows the production of side hung Casements, which opens both ways to accept a full range of hardware in-line with latest European standards, integrated solutions for security grills and a choice of single or multi-point locking devices.
Vantage from Legrand
Vantage, launched recently in India, offers exclusive home automation experience through interfaces and integrated software solutions. Individual interfaces can control multiple functions like lighting, curtain, climate and entertainment propositions thereby reducing clutter on the wall and making interiors aesthetically appealing. It comes in multiple finishes. Vantage through Ekinoxe series of touch screens can control large residential projects through customisable interfaces.
LASER Nobilia kitchens from H&R Johnson
LASER the latest modular kitchen range, supplements the handle-less LINE N Nobilia collection with fronts that have a laser-welded edge resulting in zero-joint between the edge and the front MDF board and a seamless appearance. Thanks to this innovative development in the area of edging technology, loss of aesthetic quality due to dirt-catching joints has become a thing of the past. LASER is available in premium white, ivory, sand and mineral grey. Price: RS4,00,000 onwards.
Caséta Wireless from Lutron
With Caséta Wireless one can control the lights, shades and temperature in homes from anywhere with the Logitech Harmony Living Home remote and the Harmony App. One can create the perfect movie ´activity´ that dims the lights, closes the shades and starts the show with a single touch. One can also create ´recipes´ to adjust Caséta Wireless dimmers and Lutron wireless shades based on certain triggers, like ´if it´s sunny, close my shades´, or ´if I´m coming home, turn on my lights´. It also has a channel on IFTTT (IF This Then That). This will be launched in India in 2016
SensoWash From Duravit
SensoWash shower-toilet, is a discreet and attractive symbiosis of a toilet and a bidet designed by Philippe Starck . It has a stainless steel spray arm offering three different types of shower: the Rearwash, the Comfortwash that cleanses with the forward and backward movement of the spray arm or also with a pulsating water jet and the Ladywash, specially tailored to meet female needs. SensoWash is also equipped with a dryer and the desired wash or dryer function can also be selected by remote control. The seat is heated and the temperature can be individually controlled . The spray arm and nozzles are cleaned automatically before and after each use. Other features include a special LED night-light for orientation, a child-safety feature preventing unwanted splashing and a standby and power-saving mode.
Philips Hue Go
Spherical and translucent, Philips Hue Go is an iF Design Award-winning smart versatile lamp. When unplugged from the mains it becomes a wireless portable light, lasting for up to three hours in battery mode and can be moved anywhere in and around the house. It can be positioned to suit the need like facing a wall to wash it with light, as a centrepiece while dining or focusing on a desk while working. With a smart device or by simply pressing the control button on the product, one can set the mood with seven preset light settings ranging from warm white light, cool daylight to one of the five natural dynamic effects - Cozy Candle, Sunday Coffee, Meditation, Enchanted Forest and Night Adventure. Each dynamic effect has its own flow and mix of colours to suit any mood. It can also provide ´light notifications´ about a new email, weather changes, expand TV viewing or take gaming to the next level through third party app integration and much more. It is designed to withstand high-humidity, but is not waterproof or weather rated. Available in Europe and priced at Ç99.95, it is yet to be launched in India
Encraft India, New Delhi
Tel: 011-4160 9030 / 084477 57905
Opple Lighting India,
New Delhi. Tel: 011-4988 1888
Bosch & Siemens Home Appliances, Mumbai
Lutron Electronics, Gurgaon
Tel: 0124-439 0130
Panasonic India, Gurgaon
Tel: 0124-677 0400
House of Hiranandani, Mumbai,
Tel: 022-2576 3623
Legrand India, Mumbai
Tel: 022-3041 6200
Raheja Developers Limited Delhi
Tel: 011-4061 1111
Rudrabhishek Architects and
Philips Lighting Amsterdam,
Netherlands, Tel: +31 6 53 722221
XD Design Rijswijk, Netherlands
Tel: +31 70 31 99 906
Evoz Los Altos, California
Kohler India Corporation, Gurgaon
Tel: 0124-431 9601
Duravit India, Ahmedabad
Tel: 079-6611 2338
HR Johnson (India) Mumbai
Tel: 022-3064 7300