The smart home finally accessible to all

DomoticsLong announced, the democratization of home automation is under way. But obstacles persist.

smart home

Controlling all the parameters of your home (light, heating …) remotely from a smartphone is the promise of smart homes.

Little by little, the smart house is nesting. Many times announced, the advent of connected objects is becoming a reality. According to various studies, the number of these devices connected to the Internet should increase from 15 billion today to over 50 billion in 15 years. From the ranges that count the calories absorbed to smart watches, to the mattresses that send a daily report of the night, there is something for everyone. “We have been talking about the potential applications of the Internet of Things for several years,” says Dominique Genoud, professor at the HES-SO Valais and specialist in the subject. But now, technology makes all those old dreams come true. ”

Above all, new players are breaking prices to accelerate the democratization of these systems. This is the case of the brand Devolo, which offers, for a few hundred francs, to transform your home into a real smart home. “Until now, existing home automation systems were very expensive and therefore only adapted to the premises of the companies in which they managed lighting and heating or air conditioning,” explains Jean-Claude Jolliet, sales and marketing director at Devolo. We wanted to offer similar products at affordable prices, so that the smart home is within everyone’s reach. ”

A true democratization

In practical terms, these systems offer a range of solutions that simplify life at home by enabling remote control of objects over the Internet. With Devolo objects, for example, it is possible to trigger the heating of his house from his place of work, using his smartphone (see our test). Useful when you have a chalet in the mountains and you do not want to spend the first hours of your weekend skiing frozen under a plaid. Security level: motion, smoke or humidity detectors can warn you in real time, by email or SMS, if they notice an anomaly. And, in terms of consumption, smart plugs can be used to evaluate electricity consumption and improve it.

Features that should appeal to customers. “We started selling the Devolo Home Control in Switzerland in October,” says Jean-Claude Jolliet. And sales are above our expectations. People particularly like smart plugs and security systems. The democratization of the smart home is under way. ”

Nevertheless, some pitfalls remain to be overcome. “It will take time before smart homes become a mass market,” says Georgios Lilis, a researcher at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL). The main obstacle is the diversity of available objects. Each brand builds devices in its corner, without worrying about compatibility with competing devices. This hampers the development of this market, especially as the solutions offered can be quickly overcome by new technologies. ”

In the EPFL laboratories, Georgios Lilis focuses on the development of “middleware” or middleware, to ensure communication between old and new connected objects.

Decrease consumption

Another problem: technology sometimes has the annoying tendency to complicate our life, whereas it should simplify it. “In practice, smart homes are still too complex to be accepted,” says Georgios Lilis. To turn on a light, for example, simply press the switch. If you have to take your smartphone out of your pocket in your smart home, it does not make sense. ”

Energy savings could be the real gateway to home automation in homes. “These systems help regulate its consumption, confirms Georgios Lilis. But in Switzerland, land of tenants, people have no financial interest in investing when housing does not belong to them. And the owners either, since it is the tenants who pay the bill for electricity and heating. “According to the expert, home automation could reduce by about 20% consumption.

Another thorny issue is data protection: “Home automation still suffers from an image problem linked to the security of information on the Web, notes Georgios Lilis. For the moment, this problem has no solution. ”