Connected Devices for Smarter Home Environments

Internet of Things data bolstered by Informix database embedding advances connected devices at home

Informix Product Marketing, IBM

Connected devices at home services are growing at a rapid pace every day, and the Internet of Things—which excludes personal computers, tablets, and smartphones—is growing even faster than one can imagine. This explosion of connected devices and the plethora of data they are expected to collect and send represents tremendous challenges for individuals and organizations. They will need to make sense of this data to make it actionable. According to Gartner, by 2020 there will be nearly 26 billion devices on the Internet of Things, and the number of smartphones, tablets, and personal computers in use will reach about 7.3 billion units.*

Home-based appliances and devices can capitalize on sensor-derived Internet of Things data to dramatically change daily domestic lifestyles and enhance home environments for consumers. Consumers are then able to make smart and accurate decisions related to home security, personal health of family members, and energy utilization of appliances, to name a few.

A different level of control

Several organizations such as Shaspa have partnered with IBM in an effort to equip homes with technology that enables the occupants to use a single device to control all electronic devices and appliances. The Shaspa Smart Home Kit is one example of its solutions that focus primarily on environmental monitoring, energy management, assisted living, comfort, and convenience.

The Shaspa Smart Home Kit is an open platform that employs a network of intelligent sensors to provide information about the state of the home. These sensors monitor systems such as energy generation and metering; heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC); lighting; security; and environmental key performance indicators. Utilizing the Shaspa Bridge—SmartGate—solution, this information is processed and made available through a number of access methods such as touch screens, mobile phones, and 3–D browsers (see figure).

Connected Devices for Smarter Home Environments – figure

Integrated equipment and appliances through the Informix-embedded Shaspa framework

This technology—based on IBM® Informix® database deep embedding—is intended as an IBM Smarter Planet® initiative that helps people manage diverse and interactive data beyond what was previously possible. And home appliance providers can combine the technology with business analytics applications to not only enhance the end-user experience, but help end users make the right decisions.

Home appliance manufacturers are also realizing the importance of collecting data from home locations to help occupants analyze conditions that might indicate a problem. For example, usage information can be collected from a washing machine connected to the Shaspa Bridge to know when new supplies and accessories such as filters or belts may be needed. And even the detergent dispenser can have a sensor linked to the Shaspa bridge to indicate when it needs to be refilled.

When alert conditions are detected, the connected devices at home service notifies customer support to proactively reach out to the home’s occupant, or they can automatically dispatch repair personnel. In addition, historical analytics can be performed on an ongoing basis to determine potential upcoming repair needs and an appliance’s operational effectiveness. This operational information can be correlated with the asset repository to generate a work order for any necessary maintenance or repairs, which is then dispatched to the appropriate repair technician through a mobile device. This process helps reduce the number of truck rolls per repair, and helps ensure that technicians are properly equipped in advance.

Not only does this process assist the home’s occupants, but it also supplies meaningful insight to the home appliance company for making better and faster decisions than they could make for traditional homes. It also provides valuable information for developing new products.

Efficient home environment management

The Shaspa framework embeds Informix database software for its smart home solutions. Informix incorporates design concepts that are well suited for the data volume challenges that the Internet of Things presents. And advanced database capabilities can help deliver high levels of performance and availability, robust data replication and scalability, and minimal administrative overhead.

Please share any thoughts or questions in the comments.

*Gartner Says the Internet of Things Installed Base Will Grow to 26 Billion Units By 2020,” Gartner newsroom press release, December 2013.