On the 3rd of September 2023, we as INC had the opportunity to present ourselves at IFA Berlin. Here, our colleague Patrick Kabasci talked about “Harnessing the Power of IoT in Smart Homes, Buildings, and Cities”.
It is not in the distant past that the concept of "smart home" or a "smart city" have emerged bringing futuristic gadgets in our everyday lives. The evolvement of technologies like IoT Devices, Automation Systems, Voice & Motion Control are being applied to make the device ‘smarter’.
Take voice-activated faucets, for instance. You can verbally instruct the faucet for a cup of 55°C water. But they continue to dispense water until it reaches the desired temperature, resulting in a significant water wastage. Or there are toasters that can be controlled through a phone application and show the timer for your toast to be ready. We need to ask ourselves – are such applications really helping us?
And there are also some solutions on the market that really bring us value in the form of enhanced time, effort, and convenience. Most people are using at least some smart home applications like vacuum robots or Alexa to play videos on their Smart TVs. And we are also looking at standards for interoperability of smart devices like Matter so that the users do not have to download 100s of applications on their mobile phones to control each device.
However, is this slight convenience truly indicative of a smarter future? The market requires more substantial applications for these advanced technologies. Up until now, corporations have entered this industry with the ambition of being pioneers in introducing new, flashy gadgets, engaging in a race to be the first to market. Sales expectations have typically been modest. Nevertheless, this marketing perspective is undergoing rapid transformation.
This transition from gadgets to smart applications is very crucial to drive solutions that have a deeper impact than mere convenience. We should harness the power of smart homes, buildings, and cities to build an intelligent, sustainable future. Consider the example of circular economy, where resources are used efficiently, and waste is minimized. Use of IoT for collecting data from household to understand how much waste a household, building, or city is likely to generate can support in optimized recycling and upcycling. Consider another example where residential buildings, not just individual homes, can become much more energy-efficient with cross-unit control. A centralized energy management system can adapt energy consumption based on fluctuating energy prices or data from smart meters. Predicting consumption can help in optimizing heating, cooling, and lighting across multiple units in a building, ultimately benefiting both the environment and tenants.
But to bring this into reality, the challenge of unifying different stakeholders and ensuring a seamless experience for end-users still exists. Different stakeholders in smart homes and cities have distinct goals and face unique challenges. Investors seek high returns with minimum risk, facility managers aim to ensure operability with minimal effort, and renters desire ease and safety without bureaucratic hurdles.
How do we accomplish this? The answer lies in solutions that invisibly enable:
- Data Governance and Secure Data Sharing: Ensuring that data generated by smart systems is used responsibly and ethically, with secure sharing mechanisms between stakeholders.
- Circularity: Providing material information throughout the lifecycle, to support the circular economy.
- Consumption Prediction: Predicting consumption patterns to reduce waste across the entire production, supply, and selling cycle.