The era of «smart home» it’s here. The determined commitment of the technological corporate giants to smart speakers and the needs detected in homes during the long months of confinement have given new impetus to a business that anticipates its great definitive leap forward with the massive deployment of 5G.
The smart home is synonymous with safety, comfort, energy efficiency and energy management. And something that is sometimes forgotten, financial savings. “The first thing home automation does is to make your life easier, but it is proposed so that your house can give you money,” he says. Guzman Navarro, director of the Master in Home Automation at the University of Malaga (UMA). Smart homes are homes that have home automation, that is, their automated systems are integrated. «It is the technology that scares but everyone wants. And today we know that it is necessary to have it combining the concept of home automation to that of energy efficiency, “he points out.
This intelligent control of homes is a technology whose use and application is on the rise. According to the most recent data from the market study that the Spanish Association of Home Automation and Real Estate (Cedom) the turnover of the manufacturers of control and automation systems for homes and buildings in 2018 amounted to 79 million euros, 40% more than the previous year.
Energy, comfort and safety
The most demanded functions are those related to Energy management (climate control, ventilation, lighting, consumption monitoring), followed at a distance by those related to the comfort. Thirdly, the functions related to technical alarms, access controls and security. “It is observed that the systems that integrate all the functions are gaining weight in the market, since many of them are modular or scalable”, he indicates Jordi Sabaté, technical secretary of Cedom.
Home automation is a transparent technology adaptable to the aesthetics of any building, and that provides multiple benefits. Among them, allows efficient use of energy achieving annual savings in energy bills of up to 30%; it provides both preventive security, through presence simulation, and action, through alarms connected to remote control panels; the system can be controlled both locally and remotely and facilitates maintenance by detecting faults immediately. «With the incorporation of a consumption monitoring system, the user can become aware of energy consumption and modify habits to reduce expenditure», Says the technical secretary of Cedom. The services can be integrated through indoor and outdoor communication networks, wired or wireless that can be controlled from the home or from outside.
With confinement we spent more time at home, something that showed on our electricity, heating and cooling bill. “Thus, many families have chosen to implement home automation and control systems that, in many cases, do not require major works», Emphasizes Jordi Sabaté. According to Professor Guzmán Navarro, «nowadays it is cheaper to mount home automation than not, you save on materials and labor. It’s a shame that this is not carried over to the user, but it will end up being standard. He also directs the Institute for Home Automation and Energy Efficiency, and in it they are conducting various lines of research for low-cost installations “because this is not just for the rich». It is regretted that architects do not have training in Home Automation although at their university they have managed to make it a subject for all Engineering.
Edward suller, director of the Master in Intelligent Architecture at UCAM, also believes it necessary to turn around when talking about home automation, “stop serving luxury houses and develop solutions for what is needed.” Believe that there is still a long way to go in the field of home automation starting with having «trained teachers and centers with spaces for internships. A revision is needed, and it is a very broad subject that must be well studied ».
When designing houses, he used to say to young architects that “technical knowledge is very important but often they need their brains.” There is still a change in culture. “The developers sell houses with luxury finishes but basic facilities. On the other hand, the client demands that the car have all the automated systems incorporated and we are not surprised to buy a house where the blind is raised by hand. There is a long way to go, ”Suller reflects. Trust that over time home automation will improve the comfort of the elderly at home. «The pandemic has allowed us to see the existing digital divide. Work is being done so that the elderly can benefit from telemedicine or video calls on television. Home automation can help them improve their lives ”, he points out.
Experts point out that the great balance ahead for connected homes will come with voice technology, increasingly implemented in our lives through different devices. “This technology is the most natural interface for human beings”, he highlights Nacho de Pinedo, CEO of the Higher Institute for Internet Development (ISDI) from which a study on its use in Spain has been promoted.
The results suggest that 54% of the population already uses voice technology, although at the moment the most common use is “listening to music, listening to the radio and looking for information”. Smart speaker penetration is still limited to 15%. The report highlights the growth opportunity that this market has, but calls for a value proposition around this technology.
As Nacho de Pinedo points out, “the logic of the voice is different from the logic of the keyboard or the screen, a different algorithm is generated”. That is why he believes that both companies and consumers “must understand how they work to be present and not be left out.” believes that new technological devices such as Alexa will appear and that the normal thing will be to “centralize everything in mobile technology.”