Home automation is a fairly recent concept in India, (only about 40 years old) and in its infancy, was limited by a combination of wire-based technology and prohibitive cost. Nowadays, it is a fast-growing industry, fuelled by the exponential growth of smartphones, Wi-Fi capabilities and Apps that can control appliances, navigate systems and integrate devices seamlessly from within and outside our homes. Many firms and start-ups are taking advantage of this opportunity and offering affordable home automation solutions, while developers are using home automation as a lucrative marketing strategy, especially in premium projects to high-end investors. Smartphones are now ushering in an era of Smart Homes!
How It Works
Home automation allows owners access to systems and devices within their homes from their smartphones, anywhere in the world! Basic automation might involve only single devices, for example, the sprinkler system in your garden can be programmed to start at a certain time every day, or an alarm can be switched on when you leave your home. However, nowadays automation has become progressively integrated, and nearly everything in your home – lights, appliances, temperature control, alarm system, electrical outlets etc. – can be connected to and controlled from a single source – usually through a central device/computer in your home and an App on your smartphone working in tandem. All you need is Wi-Fi connectivity!
The advent of artificial Intelligence devices like Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home, will further transform home automation. These devices literally allow us to ‘speak’ to our homes and control their devices. In combination with Wi-Fi enabled appliances like refrigerators and AC’s, home security systems with motion sensors and video cameras, it will not be surprising if Alexa and Google Home takeover much of our home management in the future!
“Home Automation is a step toward what is called the “Internet of Things”, where everything has an assigned IP address, and can be accessed, monitored and controlled remotely”
Benefits of Home Automation
- Energy Efficiency & Cost Savings – The biggest advantage of home automation, and perhaps the most important, is the potential for conserving energy and therefore reducing costs. With automation, lights and appliances can be programmed to operate only during the time when they are needed and can be shut down when they are not. You can check for any lights or appliances left on mistakenly and shut them off remotely, all through an App on your smartphone! This can lead to considerable cost savings through reducing energy wastage.
- Applications in Home Security – Another major feature of home automation is its application in the field of home security.
- Security features such as video and motion-sensor surveillance, door and window locks, front gate security, garage door locks, appliance malfunction warnings, programmable alarm settings all serve to provide home owners with that much needed sense of security.
- With cameras as a part of your automation system, you can monitor your home in real-time, remotely from anywhere in the World!
- Automation systems can be programmed to send you a text or email alert whenever your security system registers a potential problem – from natural disaster to intruder alerts.
- Automation can also notify you of more routine but crucial every day events, such as, letting you know when your child gets home safely from school, and allow you to monitor them in real-time when they are home alone or being supervised by a Nanny!
- The same applies for the elderly who are home alone or under care – remote monitoring allows you to feel in control even when you are miles away!
- Appliances can be controlled from any location around the World, with Wi-Fi connectivity and programmed to respond to your moods. For example, mood lighting is a basic but popular feature!
- Scheduling certain routine events is easy with automation. Devices can be programmed to switch on lights and AC at a certain time of day, for example – on your way back home from work, and enable you to arrive in a pleasantly cool, well lit home instead of a dark, hot space.
- Nowadays, home automation products can be easily installed by a trained technician so that extensive home renovations are not required.
- Products integrate easily with the latest voice-controlled artificial intelligence devices like Alexa and Google Home, thus providing flexibility and ease in operations.
Future of Home Automation in India
For the moment, home automation is still a largely urban, metro-oriented industry in India. Although basic automation features such as control of electrical lights and appliances are becoming more affordable, and installation easier, home automation still remains out of reach of the average Indian middle class. It is still largely associated with premium projects, and the upper middle class, corporate investor. However, the industry is currently growing at the rate of 20% every year and is expected to reach Rs. 30,000 crore by 2020.