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This is what your smart home can do

Control your home heating system with your smartphone, close your blinds while on-the-go… those are just two out of many examples of what a smart home can do. There are plenty of smart home solutions out there, but which ones are really practical?

Imagine switching on your washing machine and turning on the heating just before leaving work, so that when you come home it’s nice and warm and your cloth are ready to be hung. Sounds good, right?

Well, that no more science fiction. All you need is the right equipment. From connected smoke detectors to intelligent lighting solutions, there are so many applications on the market that it’s hard to list them all.

Read on if you’d like to discover how all this works out.

In most cases, there is one wireless remote that communicates with all devices. You can then control via app the settings.

Security

The real challenge happens once the individual devices work together. Right now, most solutions focus on just one aspect, for example your home’s lighting or video surveillance system. If, however, they work together new opportunities start to appear. When away on holidays, lights could be programmed so that they switch on from time to time to fake presence. With connected video surveillance / connected cameras you can check on your smartphone if everything is alright at home, presence detectors and window sensors can send you a text message when a door changes status from “closed” to “open”, and so on… All this do the rest to really discourage potential burglars to enter your home. So, instead of investing in an expensive alarm system, you can save a lot of money by making your home not only safer but also more convenient via smart home features.

Smart home technology is therefore very useful to save money, very popular thanks to its convenience aspect and can make your home safer. Especially in the winter season smart lighting solutions such as Belkin WeMo , Philips Hue or Lightify from Osram are very popular amongst consumers.

However, it can go much further with connected rain and wind sensors, which could automatically close the blinds when a thunderstorm is approaching.

Cost Savings

As already mentioned, smart home technology can help you to save you real money. Heating control devices will reduce your monthly heating bills. Those are often linked with door and window sensors which automatically close once heating is turned on.

But there are even more sophisticated ways to save money, for instance with smart outlets, which measure electricity consumption and propel them to your smartphone. Like this, you are able to identify which devices use the most electricity and which ones, eventually, can be replaced with more efficient ones.

From light controls to heating and security systems, it’s important that your smart home technology is easily understandable, easy to install and ideally inter-connected.

 

 

 

Want to automate your home’s lighting? – Read the pros & cons of smart-bulbs & smart-switches

Many people like yourself think about switching to a smart home, and sooner or later, smart homes will become standard. Until then, a lot of research has to be done, as there are plenty of different way to do it.

Smart-lighting has many advantages. A very obvious one is energy efficiency, but often we underestimate the convenience and security aspects. Image you come home late from work, and the lights automatically get on when you come in, or when you go on holidays and the lights go on and off (depending of the time of the day/night) so that everybody thinks you are still home.

The easiest and simplest form of smart-lighting would simply be to switch regular bulbs with smart-bulbs, or you could also plug your lamp into a “smart-plugs”.

So… What are smart bulbs?

In essence, smart bulbs are bulbs with integrated wifi radios or bluetooth. They have the advantage that you don’t need any hub device, as they can communicate directly with your smartphone or tablet. Then there’s another, a bit trickier, option: ZigBee. Some manufacturers use this signal to communicate between devices (such as Philips Hue), so if your smartphone doesn’t know ZigBee, you’ll have to install some kind of hub or bridge to act as “translator”. Bear in mind that smart-bulbs can also be a costly measure, the cheapest bulbs start at 15$/14€ (but you’ll find most of the around 30$), so it would be fairly expensive to set up your whole house with that.

Other options would be to buy a starter sets with included hub.

To summarise, setup is relatively simple with the bulb approach, and it’s easy to move a bulb to a new fixture if needed. With many of your options, the cost of scaling up and adding lights to your setup is fairly low. With a little increase in your investment, you’ll get feature-rich bulbs that change colors, track motion, stream audio over Bluetooth, or double as connected cameras.

On the downside, smart-bulb options are A-shape bulbs with standard-size E-shape screw-in bases. If you have another system… bad luck 🙁 The smart-bulbs might also have some compatibility issues with built-in dimmers, causing the bulb to flicker. The options, so far, regarding brightness and color temperature are also limited.

Now you might ask yourself, what else is there?

The answer is… Smart switches

I hope that you’ve got some basic DIY skills, because this requires some basic knowledge, as you’ll need to install the smart-switch into the wall. With this option, you don’t automate the bulb itself but the on/off switch.

Most smart switches use, similar to the smart-bulbs, wifi or ZigBee signals. Agains, the wifi systems can connect directly with your smartphone and tablet, while ZigBee will require a “translator” device.  Smart-switches are also a little more expensive, usually ranging along 50$ for 1 switch.

To sum up, with that option you can use whatever bulb you want, so that’s ideal if you are sensible about light quality, or if your fixture requires bulbs of a particular size, shape, or style that’s incompatible with smart bulbs. It’s also good for people with a “standard routine”, as in most cases your scheduled lighting changes will still run even when the switch is turned off.

On the negative side, installation is more time consuming and also more costly. In addition, if you want to change the programmed lighting times, you’ll have to get your hands dirty and get the switch back out the wall.

Not satisfied with either option? Check out smart plugs and outlets

With this option, you can automate anything with a plug on it, or turn it on and off remotely using a smartphone app. Most smart plugs are designed to work with whatever you plug into them, but some are lamp-specific, with built-in dimming controls.

If you want the full comfort option, you’ll pair your smart-plug with a motion sensor, so whenever you wake up in the middle of the night to go for a loo, lights will illuminate your way. Newer plugs such as the iDevice Switch are also compatible with iOS, which means that you can give voice-controls to Siri. Best of all, you can also automate other electronics such as coffee machines, which could start making your coffee every morning when you wake up.

Smart plugs are definitely my favorites as they are easy to use, especially if you are not the most skilled DIY type of person. Smart outlets are also a very good option, they look quite cool and there are a lot of different options to choose from.

On the downside, smart outlets are a bit trickier to install and off course, they only work (that’s also the case with smart plugs) with electronics that can be plugs into somewhere – so no fancy wifi / bluetooth stuff.

 

Top Notch – GreenPocket presents new Smart Home-Software

Just in time for this year’s IFA, GreenPocket, a platform-independent Smart Home provider, presents new opportunities with its user-friendly Smart Home software. The software allows for  individual colored light control (based on the OSRAM Lightify technology), a dimming function and the independent control of devices.
The functionalities of the software are displayed directly on new smart home video of GreenPocket.
As an extension of its Smart Home software, which among other things is compatible with the QIVICON platform of Deutsche Telekom, GreenPocket smart home users for the first time the possibility for perfect color lighting management in their own home. By the color of the living room lamp, which family member has just entered the home or whether a window with rain warn you is still open? Thanks to intelligent rules, smart home users can be informed easily by light colors upon entering of user-defined events.
Annoying routine tasks such as shutting down the shutters or turning off the lights can be run automatically? With the new, based on the astronomical calendar twilight function GreenPocket Smart Home software also offers the optimum solution for.
Also new and also extremely helpful is the performance-based device control, which allows the automatic shutdown of devices. Be via smartphone notified as soon as the washing machine has finished the cycle, and no longer need to turn this myself? This rule can be set up by innovative and intuitive operation within a few seconds.
GreenPocket Smart Home software can using Responsive Design on all devices (smartphone, tablet, desktop) to be used and enables simple the easy monitoring and control of home. Highly flexible rules and automations enable the creation of exciting and varied scenarios, eg through automated presence detection of geofencing, which, inter alia, the heater automatically adjusts when a resident is on the way.
The focus is GreenPocket to audiences utilities, telecommunications companies, equipment manufacturers, electronics dealers and security companies, which make using the GreenPocket white label solution, the functionality and design of the smart home application itself and can select the appropriate hardware in cooperation with selected partner companies. Large utilities like Vattenfall and RheinEnergie are already using these new ways of GreenPocket Smart Home software.
Visitors of the IFA will have the opportunity to use the GreenPocket booth (Hall 11.1, Stand 2) to experience and try out yourself. In addition, Dr. Thomas Goette, CEO of Green Pocket, during his lecture “Energy Management Meets IoT” (Tuesday, September 8, 2015, 11:00 am clock in IFA TechWatch forum) interested listeners gives an overview of the new opportunities and possibilities, which opens up the Internet of Things, for energy management.

About GreenPocket
GreenPocket (www.greenpocket.de) is a software specialist renowned for its user-friendly and modular applications around the Internet of Things as well as consumer engagement and energy management in the Smart Energy sector. GreenPocket provides energy suppliers and service providers with both standard software, which is continually being developed, and individual development opportunities. With than 100 successful projects among 45 national and international clients in 10 countries, GreenPocket is the market and innovation leader in Germany and one of the leading providers in the European Smart Energy market.