Various brands of Integrated Home Systems (IHS) began appearing on the market about 15 years ago. They offered the possibility of executing actions inside the home, but triggered from a distance using a standard telephone line (fixed or mobile). They also offered the ability to check whether certain power consumers were connected.
In that same period, speech recognition technology was coming into prominence. It was thought that we would be able to operate all functions inside the home using voice commands. This turned out to be a bridge too far. Hence, this possibility got passed by with the advance of smartphone capability.
Today, virtually all IHS manufacturers have developed solutions that enable the remote management of every power consumer or function inside the home. Let’s take a look at the possibilities, and see if there are some which you may need.
Initially, the Graphical User Interface (GUI) was mainly meant to facilitate IHS management via the home computer that was in turn connected to the LAN home network. In most cases, we could execute certain operations or check the status via floor plans of the home or via photos depicting the lighting, the heating and the shutters.
This GUI was considered more attractive cost wise than the possibilities offered by the large wall-mounted touchscreens. At that time, no connection from outside the home was possible.
Smartphones and Tablets
Smartphones and tablets have changed the possibilities of remote control. Now, you can have your entire home in the palm of your hand, inside as well as outside the home. Even when we’re not using our home, it has found its way into our pocket or handbag.
Courtesy of Niko
Occasionally, a GUI is still used for tablets, because they have bigger screens. Most of the time however, the various functions are categorised into groups. You select a group, for instance lighting, or a room for which you want to trigger a certain action. Through a menu structure of multiple screens, you can manage any power consumer inside the home.
When you decide to leave work early to go home, you can switch on the heating or air-conditioning. When you get home, the house has already reached a comfortable temperature.
Via a connected video control unit at the front door, you not only see who is at the door when you are not home, you can even start a conversation if you wish. This appears the same to the visitor as if you were at home and using the indoor video unit. Even opening the door from a distance is possible. This comes in very handy when you need to admit the grandparents coming over to watch the kids when they come home from school, or when you want to let the cleaner in. In both cases, you don’t need to hand out any house keys, which makes it altogether safer.
You’re already at work, but you are not sure that you or the kids remembered to switch the heating to night-mode, or switch off all the lights when leaving the house. No need to worry: an ‘all-off’ command is easily sent to the home.
The IHS apps can also be used inside the home. For instance, it is possible to isolate certain functions that you don’t want others to operate. You simply make them controllable via your smartphone instead of a wall-mounted switch.
Then there is the feedback regarding your energy consumption. Studies have revealed that regular checks of your home’s energy consumption result in a 15% reduction of your consumption. This is now also integrated into IHS apps.
Certain functions, which you need to be executed right away, are better not installed on your smartphone or tablet. When you want to mute your sound system because you want to talk to someone, or when the doorbell rings, going through a menu structure of multiple screens may take too much time to carry out comfortably and stress-free.
Something for You?
You need to decide for yourself which of these possibilities will be useful to you. However, take into account that this type of remote control not only functions outside the home, but also inside. When you want to verify whether your child has switched off the lights in their bedroom after bedtime, you no longer have to go upstairs to check and risk waking them if they’re already asleep.
Do you have irregular working hours? Or do you have a second home that is often used by others? In these cases, it might come in handy to execute certain actions from a distance, in order to check that everything is switched off when nobody is around. The choice yours!