Taking Smart Home Concepts to a Larger Scale

A trend that cannot be ignored by hospitality industry

Ever since the foundation of the ubiquitous computer, the concept of ambient and smart technologies has fueled intense work in areas such as mobile applications, engineering, and computer science. Today’s language of technology is massively impacted by the notion of ‘smart’: smart-phones, smart-watches, smart-grids, and finally, smart homes

Despite the fact that the last decade has seen an increase in properties with embedded smart home technology, connectivity in home devices (e.g. utility meters, sensors, advanced lighting systems, security cameras, TVs, etc.) continues to be regarded as a high-end novelty. But as we move into the future, this notion will be rendered obsolete. Analysts predict that the house of the future will contain over 15 connected devices, ranging from vehicle charging infrastructure to solar panels and motion sensors.

Even though we are just beginning to understand the possibilities of smart homes, it’s not too early that we take the concept to the next level.

Among the main topics to be discussed at the Light + Building Trade Fair, this year, are Smart Homes and Smart Powered Buildings. 

“In view of the increasing worldwide demand for energy and the climate-protection objectives, it is important that the energy-saving potential of buildings be exploited to the full. An important prerequisite for this is interaction between energy supply and the intelligent building.” Source: Light + Building

Numerous exhibitors present their latest solutions in areas such as advanced lighting systems, digitized systems, security systems, and smart home automation solutions and discuss their applicability in luxury residential housing and the hospitality sector. It has already been demonstrated that the concept can be deployed on a large scale.

Many hotel owners such as Starwood, Hilton and Wyndham, who understand the importance of sustainable development, are already pioneering with controlled lighting solutions, audio-visual software and automated security systems. The next step for them is to bring all these application under one roof, through automation.

Mobile connectivity will play a crucial role in the deployment of ‘smart’ technologies on a larger scale, as they will be the ones to support remote device monitoring, data management, and firmware updating for larger constructions. 

Examples of Hotels that are Already Using Smart Technology:

- Starwood Embraces Technology with Dozens of New Amenities

- Enabling Smart Room Technology for the Ultimate Hotel Experience

- America’s 10 Highest-tech Hotels

- Smart Hotel Guest Room Management System

 

Smart Home Technology: What’s Available?

Understanding what is available in the smart home market will help project owners consider a breadth of possibilities when deploying the technology to larger commercial developments whether they are luxury hotels and resorts or high-end residences. 

A smart home uses electronic networking technology to integrate multiple appliances, devices, and building environment systems, making it possible for them to be controlled centrally, or remotely, by a single application. 

 

  • Smart home automation systems enable the user to control heating & cooling, security systems, smoke/fire alarms, video cameras, lighting, media devices, doors and gates. Many systems integrate with third-party technologies, which means that you will have the freedom to choose the home solutions you prefer. Out of the 10 home automation systems reviewed by TopTenReviews, the top contenders are Control4, Crestron, and HomeSeer.

 

  • Light occupancy sensors can also be used to save money and increase energy-efficiency. Another solution would be to connect all the lighting systems in your house to a home automation system and turn them on/off as needed. 

 

  • Smart grid ready appliances can be operated remotely to perform desired functions. They can also communicate user information to energy companies, thus helping you save money during peak hours. 

 

  • Smart thermostats have self-learning capabilities that enable them to manage temperature control. There is a particular thermostat that received worldwide recognition for its functionality: the Nest Thermostat. This nifty little device can run the home temperature all by itself and help home owners save hundreds of dollars on energy bills (50% of energy bills go to heating & cooling). Furthermore, the Nest can sense the owner’s presence in the home and check weather forecasts to adjust temperatures accordingly. 

 

  • Smart lighting systems are designed to maximize energy efficiency. Most advanced lighting systems have automated controls that make adjustments according to the user’s preferences, daylight availability and occupancy. Philips has come up with a series of interesting products including dimming kits, lamps, light strips, and the incredible Philips Hue. This web-enabled LED home lighting system uses an advanced API that works with IFTTT (If This Then That) to improve home security and control lighting automatically. And this is just the beginning. 
The Ninja Sphere is a home automation systems that couples wireless environmental sensors with its software to remotely switch lights on or off. 

The Ninja Sphere is a home automation systems that couples wireless environmental sensors with its software to remotely switch lights on or off. 

 

  • Renewables. The smart-home of the future will, most definitely, use renewable energy systems. The first solutions that come to mind are solar energy and wind energy. However, there are also lesser known renewables, including geothermal and wave energy that can produce electricity and heat spaces on a large scale. 

 

  • Smart home security systems will help you keep an eye on your home, even when you’re away. There are several automated security systems already, including Netatmo Welcome, Nest Cam, Canary, and Piper, which can be used remotely. 

 

The Benefits of Large-scale Smart Home Deployment

Courtesy of Starwood Hotels

Courtesy of Starwood Hotels

Achieving Ultimate Energy Efficiency

One of the most important goals of smart home systems is achieving ultimate energy efficiency. All the sustainable technologies described above, and many others, will greatly reduce energy costs. 

“Electricity generation and consumption can be harmonized better using smart-meter technology. Through the visualization of consumption data, the user can work out how to achieve greater energy efficiency, which is then managed by the building-automation systems.” Source: Smart-meter technology is key to energy-efficiency

Address Human Well-Being: Human Centric Lighting

The main purpose of technology is to make life better. The major innovations of the past decade have helped improve the quality of life, start on a path of sustainability, and reduce the cost of living. In the lighting industry, technology is moving towards human-centric lighting (HCL) - a concept that aims to match lighting qualities with circadian rhythms and give users more control over light usage.  It is believed to be truly integrating energy efficiency with human well-being.

Improve the User’s Experience

When all the elements of technology are geared towards improving the experience of the end-user, it’s impossible to go wrong. The word ‘home’ is no longer synonym with shelter. It encompasses a plethora of qualities such as comfort and luxury. Smart home solutions, controlled lighting, attention to detail, automated heating and cooling systems have a huge impact on the way that a home, or hotel, is experienced. 

Solid Long Term Investment

The upfront costs of smart technology aren’t huge. Despite the fact that the implementation of smart solutions may require you to stretch your budget, the money you save on the long run and the experience you will be able to provide to your customers will more than make up for it.

 

Challenges in Large-Scale Smart Home Deployment

The guiding principles of smart homes can be deployed on a large scale, for luxury residential housing as well as hotels, but there are a series of challenges that must be addressed:

1. Solutions to mitigate the visual impact of technology on the feel of the space, particularly for retrofitting situations. 

2. Strategies to integrate data coming from disparate sources such as smart-phones, wearables, environmental sensors, lighting systems etc. 

3. User interfaces that can be accessed without inconveniencing users. 

4. Smart home automation systems that can be deployed by non-specialists on a larger scale.