M2M - The Industry

In Part 1 of this post, we will focus on:

- How "smart homes" have evolved

- Some unique smart home applications

- How your coffee maker talks to your alarm clock


One of the biggest potential growth areas in the world of M2M has to do with the concept of a "smart home".  Initially when we started to hear about this, there seemed to be a strong focus on optimizing the "utility" usage of the home (namely reducing water and electricity consumption).  This concept initially started a long time ago, when homes started to introduce items such as programmable thermostats that allowed people to lower down electricity and gas usage by having the home hotter/colder (depending on the season) in times when there was either no one home or most people were sleeping.  The "smart home" takes this to a whole new level, as it allows for much of the optimization to be done without having the user to pre-program a schedule, as it has the intelligence to reach to certain environments.

Some examples of unique applications of "smart home" are:

Intelligent windows  
Sensors are placed on the windows to detect the amount of sunshine that is hitting a particular window.  During the warm months, the windows will darken temporarily to block the extra heat, while they will lighten in the cooler months to let in heat.  What makes these systems more advanced than many sunglasses that do a similar trick is that they also work in conjunction with the heating/cooling system to place extra heating/cooling in the areas that need it most, based on the warmth of the sun.  This reduces electricity/gas usage while providing a more uniform temperature for the home.  That really is intelligent...

You have a message from your Sump pump  
Depending on where you live and the age of your home, you may or may not even know what this is.  However, if you have ever come home during a power failure (with an accompanying rainstorm) and found your basement flooded, you won't soon forget the importance of this handy little device working all the time.  One of the best new inventions that I have seen for the home (for a so called "old school device") was when text messaging alerting functionality was added to sump pumps, allowing the homeowner to be notified that the power has been lost to the pump, and that there is an increased chance of basement flooding.  While you still have to be there to fix the situation, getting home early may reduce the amount of times you have to carry buckets of water up the stairs...

I'll close that for you  
I noticed that one of my neighbors had left their garage door open the other day, something that I am sure that most homeowners have done at some point.  I sent him over a text to let him know.  A few minutes later, I noticed that his door was closed, so I assumed that someone in the home closed it.....which was odd since I didn't think anyone was home in the daytime.  I decided to text him again, and he told me that he had closed it with his smartphone.  Apparently, the garage door opener had a short-haul wireless technology built in (I assume Wi-Fi) and there was a smartphone app that allowed for the status of the door (open/shut/stuck) to be reported as well as an output switch to change the status.  It would also notify him if the garage door was left open for a pre-set amount of time (or opened during a time that it was not supposed to be open), which he had not set up yet.  As well, there was also an auto-shut mode if the garage door was left open for a pre-set period unattended.  This not only reduces the chance of unwanted entry / theft, but can also lower down your heating/cooling costs for the home.

How could a typical morning look if M2M was everywhere (thanks to Rogers for this example)

  • While you are sound asleep, there is a major accident on the freeway on your way to work.  In the world before M2M, this could make you very late.  For those like me that work from home or live very close to the office, please just play along  =)
  • Since you have an intelligent alarm clock, it knows the route you take to the office and it knows to check the traffic report for you.  It checks the traffic sensors (another great M2M application for municipalities) and realizes that that current delay would create a 15 minute longer drive than normal.  So, it resets itself to wake you 15 minutes earlier.
  • Since it knows that you like a warm car, it tells your intelligent car to be ready 15 minutes earlier, which means that it speeds up its charge....I assume if you are this nerdy, you must have an electric car!
  • As a connoisseur of fine coffee, you like to set your coffee to be at the optimal temperature exactly when you want to drink it.  Knowing this, your alarm clock also notifies your coffee maker to start its precise process 15 minutes early.

In Part 2 of this blog, we focus on some of the obstacles that have to be overcome to make smart home more of a reality in the coming years.

As always, let Novotech know how we can help with your M2M needs, such as antenna selection.  You can visit our web page @ www.novotech.com.  As well, feel free to reach out to me directly ....larry(@)novotech.com.  You can also follow us on Twitter (@NovotechM2M) and you can follow me personally as well (@LBNovotechM2M).