Home automation or domotics is building automation for a home, called a smart home or smart house. A home automation system will monitor and/or control home attributes such as lighting, climate, entertainment systems, and appliances. It may also include home security such as access control and alarm systems. When connected with the Internet, home devices are an important constituent of the Internet of Things (“IoT”).
A home automation system typically connects controlled devices to a central smart home hub (sometimes called a “gateway”). The user interface for control of the system uses either wall-mounted terminals, tablet or desktop computers, a mobile phone application, or a Web interface that may also be accessible off-site through the Internet.
While there are many competing vendors, there are increasing efforts towards open source systems. However, there are issues with the current state of home automation including a lack of standardized security measures and deprecation of older devices without backwards compatibility.
Home automation has high potential for sharing data between family members or trusted individuals for personal security and could lead to energy saving measures with a positive environmental impact in the future.
The home automation market was worth US$5.77 billion in 2013, predicted to reach a market value of US$12.81 billion by 2020.
Early home automation began with labor-saving machines. Self-contained electric or gas powered home appliances became viable in the 1900s with the introduction of electric power distribution and led to the introduction of washing machines (1904), water heaters (1889), refrigerators (1913), sewing machines, dishwashers, and clothes dryers.
In 1975, the first general purpose home automation network technology, X10, was developed. It is a communication protocol for electronic devices. It primarily uses electric power transmission wiring for signalling and control, where the signals involve brief radio frequency bursts of digital data, and remains the most widely available By 1978, X10 products included a 16 channel command console, a lamp module, and an appliance module. Soon after came the wall switch module and the first X10 timer.
By 2012, in the United States, according to ABI Research, 1.5 million home automation systems were installed. Per research firm Statista, more than 45 million smart home devices will be installed in U.S. homes by the end of the year 2018.
The word “domotics” is a contraction of the Latin word for a home (domus) and the word robotics. The word “smart” in “smart home” refers to the system being aware of the state of its devices, which is done through the information and communication technologies (ICT) protocol and the Internet of Things (IoT).
Applications and technologies
Home automation is prevalent in a variety of different realms, including:
- Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC): it is possible to have remote control of all home energy monitors over the internet incorporating a simple and friendly user interface.
- Lighting control system: a “smart” network that incorporates communication between various lighting system inputs and outputs, using one or more central computing devices.
- Occupancy-aware control system: it is possible to sense the occupancy of the home using smart meters and environmental sensors like CO2sensors, which can be integrated into the building automation system to trigger automatic responses for energy efficiency and building comfort applications.
- Appliance control and integration with the smart grid and a smart meter, taking advantage, for instance, of high solar panel output in the middle of the day to run washing machines.
- Home robots and security: a household security system integrated with a home automation system can provide additional services such as remote surveillance of security cameras over the Internet, or access control and central locking of all perimeter doors and windows.
- Leak detection, smoke and CO detectors
- Laundry-folding machine, self-making bed
- Indoor positioning systems (IPS).
- Home automation for the elderly and disabled.
- Pet and baby care, for example tracking the pets and babies' movements and controlling pet access rights.
- Air quality control (inside and outside). For example, Air Quality Egg is used by people at home to monitor the air quality and pollution level in the city and create a map of the pollution.
- Smart kitchen, with refrigerator inventory, premade cooking programs, cooking surveillance, etc.
- Voice control devices like Amazon Alexa or Google Home used to control home appliances or systems.