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IoT in Home Automation

If you are waiting for the next cutting-edge technology outbreak, IoT in home automation is already at the top of customer requests. Recent changes to remote-based businesses and focus on personal convenience are the major causes. Certainly, the first idea of automation was to upgrade the usefulness of home features. But, the most compelling thing is that smart homes using IoT save you not only time but also money. 

So, are you sure that all your home preferences are satisfied? Is the security level high enough? Maybe the utility bills have risen dramatically? Our article will help you find answers and discuss many of the technical aspects. 

Step by step, starting with home automation basic definitions, you will gain a better understanding of what LoT in the home is all about. As expected, the innovative home product range includes all the stages from hardware development up to full software support. Hence, this process consists of developing numerous sensors that measure different parameters and transfer the data to a primary storage unit. Also, using the Defigo case study — IoT-based smart apartment access, you will understand how it looks. 

So, let's get down to the details.  

Smart Home Automation: What It Is And How It Works

IoT-based smart home automation systems are designed to monitor and control the attributes you want to manage. For example, a range of Wi-Fi devices collects and shares data via Internet protocols. In turn, each device has sensors or detectors reporting to a central home automation hub. In such a way, sensors transmit and receive commands to one or several hubs to further communicate the output to the cloud network. The presented architecture allows personal devices to be part of this system remotely.  

 This way, users have access at all times and from any location. Using a smart app, they can manage the wireless appliances from anywhere or set up their workload entirely automatically.    

Automation of future facilities depends on individual consumer choice: from lights, essential home appliances, cameras, climate regulators, switches, and items linked to access and alarm control systems. The specified list covers all the common features that are in the public eye. Accordingly, recent trends are showing a rising level of smart home popularity.

 

 

  

The survey data below allows users to compare individual expectations with current homeowner insights. 

Today, more and more households are joining the growing band of IoT-based home automation users to enjoy the advantages to be had.         

Example of Using IoT in Smart Home

Let us further introduce our high functionality Defigo product. The original product idea was derived from the requirements of business owners and residents of apartment buildings in Norway. As a result, the need for intelligent office personal access or managing third-party service providers' work was met instantly. 

Now, you are probably interested in preliminary product design? 

Imagine, an interactive screen and administration panel are represented in two forms of an intelligent doorbell: one for residential buildings and another for offices and business buildings. An IoT-based automation system is in charge of its functionality. Users, with the help of personal devices, can manage the Defigo doorbells remotely. 

Soon, the product gained popularity and user requests increased in number. Since the main aim of our products is to maintain high quality and platform stability, the impressive experience in all related areas of the LANARS team helped to handle particular issues promptly. Thus, professional testing approaches were incorporated to present the most appropriate technical solutions. And the reaction was immediate. 

At present, the expanded range of app features, the most suitable hardware and software equipment, updated device interfaces, relevant tools, and improved operation tasks are a direct result of field research and strict regulations. Find out more about the Defigo project here. We are proud to share the details of this one-year process with you. 

     

Home Automation Components

Moving to the technical part of the article, the smart home automation IoT constituents are outlined below. In general, the structure of a home IoT platform can be perceived differently. However, the fundamental components are the server, hardware interface module, and software package in a basic sense. So let's find out the details. 

End devices are the sensory organs of the household., e.g., switches, sensors, lights, locks, etc. Their primary function is to provide flexibility to the user's control. In normal home circumstances, the most suitable devices respond automatically. Their primary function is to follow the pre-established rules and send alerts to a user's mobile phone or browser app.    

Then, with the help of Connection Devices, the multiple end devices transmit or receive commands from their central controllers — hubs, or route the data through an IoT gateway. As mentioned earlier, hubs are responsible for smooth data transmission between single or multiple end devices. 

Considering the factors of supported communication protocols, configuration, modularity, or security — the option of a perfect gateway is the ideal solution. You can either create the gateway using an existing Raspberry Pi hardware prototyping stack or Intel Edison and so forth. Any IoT ecosystem requires a connected gateway to move the massive amounts of data from any device to the cloud or vice versa.

        

As IoT devices generate data packages that need to be stored, this task is achieved using a Data Storage element. In addition, any platform should be reliable to ensure the high performance of home IoT security.    

Today, IoT connected homes apply the concepts of widespread wireless networks based on Wifi, Bluetooth, Z-wave, and Ant technologies. For instance, compared to commonly known Wifi use, solutions made based on Bluetooth are rare. 

Z-wave wireless systems are more widely adopted as their protocols permit easy tracking of smart devices like light bulbs, plugins, or thermostats. This wide popularity is often associated with a reliable security rating.  

The protocols of Ant wireless technology are popular for adaptability to sports and fitness applications but can also be suited for other residential and commercial purposes as well. Low-powered sensors are possible using their capabilities. On that account, the precise solution of a preferred wireless system depends on the home automation concept as a whole.    

Several internal communications options are available through the usage of Network Protocols — MQTT, HTTP, CoAP. By evaluating the standards of protocol performance, the choice will always be made on the level of efficiency. Various types of IoT system requirements will help to choose the most reliable option. 

As a result, IoT cannot entirely rely on a single standard messaging protocol like HTTP (HyperText Transport Protocol), used for the Web. Thus, the alternative MQTT (Message Queuing Telemetry Transport) protocol is frequently seen as being the oldest Machine-to-Machine (M2M) communication protocol for IoT systems, mainly suited for large networks of small devices. On the contrary, CoAP (Constrained Application Protocol) offers more functionality by allowing clients and servers to evolve separately even if new devices are added.            

Home Automation Architecture

Following up on the subject of home automation technical specifics, the whole architecture underlies the best topology design.

The topology is associated with identifying new nodes in the network along with messages passing from one node to another. When considering IoT-connected networks, Mesh and Star topologies are the most popular ones. 

 

 

The primary distinctive feature between them is that Mesh topology delivers more flexibility by exchanging the messages between devices. Saying that, each device in a smart space would need multiple connections. However, it may be too excessive for such simple devices as plugs to achieve. At the same time, a mesh network will provide better positioning accuracy and coverage if one of the nodes fails to communicate.  

Meanwhile, Star topology does not require each device to communicate with all the others, making it easier to install or replace. Instead, the primary parent node is the only one to receive the information, so rules out further steps. But, a central master device has a much heavier workload to coordinate all nodes. 

In both cases, the preferred topology relies on the initial network requirements.

 

Home Automation: Which protocol is the best?

Earlier, smart automation system components were mentioned. Let's return to identifying the best automation protocols for them. In simple terms, they aim to perform communication between devices. Such leading protocols as Z-Wave, Zigbee, 6LoWPAN, and Bluetooth have proved their compatibility.

It would be easier to operate with similar variables to conduct an accurate analysis of the pros and cons. Such variables as area coverage, power efficiency, data bandwidth, frequency band, topology, and alliance reveal both beneficial and unfavorable features.   

Z-Wave

Pros:

  • One standard of the Z-Wave ecosystem allows cooperation with all devices — meaning that compatibility is guaranteed; 

  • Using the above requirements — it is possible with a mesh network topology. As we already know, it leads to better coverage and connection reliability with devices; 

  • Operating in the spectrum of 0.9GHz enables the data to be transferred over a greater distance;

  • Power-efficient; 

Cons:

  • The limit of up to four hops in the mesh prevents packets from traveling through more devices — as a result, it restricts the speed and amount of data that may be transferred in the future;   

  • The high implementation cost of what is an essential feature;

  • Compared to other protocols, the data bandwidth is the lowest.

 

Zigbee 

Pros:

  • The open standard of this protocol provides the opportunity to transform the implementation settings;

  • Also based on the mesh network topology, offering the same advantages;

  • Unlimited number of device hops leads to an increased communication speed;

  • Embedded security measures facilitate the development process;

  • The frequency band is 2.4GHz;

  • Power-efficient;

Cons:

  • Compatibility is not guaranteed;

  • The open standard can lead to interference if there are multiple networks close by;

  • Short transmission distance; 

 

6LoWPAN

Pros:

  • Works on an open standard;
  • Ultra-low energy usage;
  • Will connect to the smallest devices of the IoT ecosystem;
  • Provides a high level of scalability due to mesh routing;

Cons:

  • Contrary to Zigbee, this protocol has a lower level of security;
  • Less susceptible to interference than Bluetooth protocols;
  • Supports short communication range;

 

Bluetooth

Pros:

  • High data bandwidth;

  • Enables lower power consumption;

  • Available at a lower cost;

  • Enables wireless data transmission;

Cons:

  • Lack of appropriate security level;

  • Has limited signal quality;

  • Only supports short communication range;

As you can see, each protocol’s positive and negative characteristics can be controversial. So, the best option will be based on your automations needs.       

Home Automation Programming Language For Smart Home Developers

In a home automation space, programming languages are guarantors of cohesive work. Today, the dominant choice of professional developers belongs to C/C++, Python, Lua, Node.js, Java, Delphi, and shell-script.    

Home Assistant for Smart Home Development

All devices in a smart home space deal with the so-called “brain” of the entire system — “hubs.” The centralized hub is the connecting link between multiple home IoT appliances and the client’s requests. To be more precise, single or numerous hubs receive the data sent by the user over a cloud network. After that, they process the signal by triggering the intended sensors to perform the requested action. Further, the hub updates the status once the action is completed. As a result, the user is aware of all stages in this process.  

These home assistants are client beneficial, as everything is controlled through a single app. In the market for the latest home automation tools, the best hubs are easy to choose. In addition, their universal standards allow consumers to fit them to multiple network features.       

Blockchain in IoT for the Connected Home

The collaborative work of all IoT home appliances should block any unauthorized attacks. A system’s vulnerability may lead to threats to household objects, personal information disclosure, or even partial platform dysfunction. Hence, a blockchain-based system in IoT for connected homes is a feasible control scenario. 

In brief, the distributed ledger system is well-known for the block’s integrity. A digital ledger with recorded transaction data is distributed among other network nodes. The blocks with transaction information are chained. So, if there is an attempt to modify any block, it is difficult to change the whole ledger. Similar to IoT home design, connected appliances can distribute a shared key that permits secure communication. This technology architecture creates additional value that can be implemented into the IoT home space.  

The Blockchain standards are better utilized to control secure access. Its protocols offer partial access to specific areas. Security of the IoT ecosystem will be guaranteed.        

Essential IoT Home Sensors for Home Automation

The list of IoT appliances grows steadily. The next generation has gained wide popularity. So, let’s look at a brief description of each of them.  

Fire/CO Detection

The IoT-enabled sensor has a firefighting capability. Smart fire appliances serve to help consumers against fire accidents. Heat or Smoke Detection sensors detect the initial stages of fire. Next, they automatically generate a notification which is sent to the remote user while triggering actions to extinguish the fire with the help of a sprinkler system. As a result, home properties are safer. Contrary to standard building fire-protection systems, these appliances can be applied to more targeted spaces. Individuals can monitor the exceeded indicators of safety norms of rooms in real-time.       

Air Composition Sensors

Most of the sensors used to assess air composition have been developed to sense hazardous gas levels of NH3, NOx, Alcohol, Benzene, smoke, and CO, (Carbon Monoxide). In fact, they sense through their primary surface. Once a sensors’ surfaces are activated enough to reflect the accurate pollution level — other smart appliances come into play to resolve the issue.   

Also, it is also possible to monitor things like toxins, air pressure, and even dust. In cases where you have health concerns, sensor integration is the best solution.   

Water Monitor

The purpose of these sensors is to reduce water leakage damage or flooding in your household. Once the water detector is triggered, a smart water valve is utilized. For instance, an HC-SR04 ultrasonic sensor or LM1830 can be your option. Moreover, we can even go one step further. Some water detectors can even regulate water irrigation needs, (for plants or lawns), or monitor overall consumption.    

Access Control

Access control is an integral part of any well-constructed IoT platform. The security measures are capable of monitoring a diverse range of access point methods. Settings can allow access to occupants by scanning fingerprints, facial recognition or a password on a keypad. The automated method of verifying a match helps to check the credentials of someone trying to gain entry. Electronic access to door locks ensures restricted rights compliance.   

Motion sensors

Leveraging the use of motion sensors makes it possible to apply suitable security measures and become a convenient feature at night. A large number of various security apps can guarantee that safety is maintained. The basic idea is to trigger a light to turn on if someone enters a building and off — if a person exits.   

Sound sensors

In general, there are two kinds of sound sensors. Either the appliances sense high-pitched or ultra-low levels of noise — the system will react to each type of signal. It is widely applied to detect when a baby is crying and turn the lights on or pet sounds that will open the door.      

With the extensive usage of numerous sensors, it is also possible to maintain a healthy lifestyle. This will be based on your individual automation needs, that's a pretty compelling solution for sure.    

Bottom Line

All in all, the discussed aspects lean towards the probability of the number of connected devices surpassing the number of people. Its accelerating penetration into the household environment predicts obvious IT market acceleration. 

However, it is no trivial task to build an IoT platform within a short time frame that will oversee all potential development concerns. Hopefully, we've managed to simplify this process for you.   

Another way to capitalize on your opportunities in the home automation stack is to utilize the installation package based on future needs. Diverse instruments, technologies, tools, or network configuration options enlarge existing boundaries. 

Do not forget abundant opportunities for innovative solutions shape the reality you deserve to experience. 

 

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161923.06.2021
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