From the Editor’s Desk: September 2014

According to a United Nations forecast, 66 per cent of the global population will live in urban areas by 2050, and India is projected to add 404 million urban dwellers. Accordingly it is estimated that approximately 500 new cities will need to be built across the country to accommodate the influx of new urban migrants. These cities will be well planned and will have Information Technology as their backbone to manage their infrastructure and citizen services. This in fact, is already becoming a reality across the world and even in India. The Indian Finance Minister Mr. Arun Jaitley recently announced India would start building 100 smart cities this fiscal. These new cities will have smarter, safer homes.

Smart homes will deliver a connected living experience that uses home control and management set-up to create a connected lifestyle experience. Using the network as its platform, the solution architecture will enable the creation and integration of new services and even focus on community interaction. This will provide improved convenience, comfort, energy efficiency, and security.

Technically, today any device in a home that uses electricity can be put on the home network and can be at your command, whether you give that command by voice, remote control, tablet, PC or smartphone. Most applications currently relate to lighting, home security, home theatre, entertainment and thermostat regulation. However, soon technology may control even our refrigerators and what’s in them!

The futuristic vision of wireless domestic bliss that puts people and their smartphones or tablets at the centre of an ‘internet of things’ has become a key focus area of large technology giants like Google, Apple, Microsoft and Samsung. They have been engaging for an early mover’s advantage in the scramble to craft the internet-connected household, a market they expect to grow into the next multi-billion-dollar tech revolution.

To add innovation muscle to its smart home push, Samsung in August bought the US start-up SmartThings, which is developing apps to link up electric devices and household appliances, for a reported 200 million dollars. The move came after Google in January paid a whopping $3.2 billion for Nest Labs, which makes fire alarms and sophisticated thermostats that save energy and can detect whether people are at home or out. In India too, very soon we will see giants like Reliance Jio unleash its 4G network that promises blazing speeds on the internet delivering entertainment, communications, home automation, safety and security to modern homes. Last year some 17 million home automation devices were sold, according to analysts at ABI Research, which predicts their number will top half a billion units by 2018!

The demand in the home automation segment in India is being created by companies like Honeywell, Logitech, LeGrand, Crestron, Lutron, Schneider and AMX among others. The buyers invariably belong to the higher income groups, who see home automation as a fad. However, the middle income class has also now begun buying them for their energy saving features. But sadly, security and safety awareness still has a long way to go before people begin investing in home security systems for the right reasons. Perhaps, most unfortunately, rise in crime will become that reason.

Till we meet again, cheers and happy reading!

 

G B Singh

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