IoT and Home Automation: How Beacons are Changing the Game
November 9, 2015
Imagine! You come back to your home after a tiring day and are warmly welcomed with a cup of brewed coffee. Your home senses your presence. It switches on the lights as you enter and turns on the music system to your favorite Progressive Rock soundtrack. This is not a far-fetched idea, it’s iBeacon technology for home automation! Beacons have now forged their way into our homes to digitize our personal space after impacting various industries such as retail, events, museums, and more. Not surprising given how BLE Beacon shipments are forecasted to exceed 400 million units in another five years, according to a recent ABI Research.
Beacons allow consumers to create ‘smart’ living spaces by enabling a mechanism that controls their entertainment units, security systems, home appliances, thermostats, fixtures, surveillance cameras, and more, through their smartphones. They are truly a brilliant demonstration of how IoT is fast empowering the integration of digital and physical worlds, all over. With beacons in place, your physical world is made digitally rich as your house senses your presence through home automation apps and acts as per your will, besides providing you with vital controls. If you are new to beacons then check out these beacon FAQs to clear all your doubts. You can also learn more about iBeacon technology and the common misconceptions surrounding beacons.
Let’s take a look at why iBeacon technology is perfect for home automation-
1) To establish a ‘smart’ home
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IoT implementations in home automation, like a simple notification informing you that the lights at your home are still on when you leave your home, make your home ‘smarter’. Once beacon hardware is placed in and around your home, beacons interact with your smart phone and set off appropriate applications based on your proximity to beacons installed.
2) For convenience
Beacons can enable any device at your home depending on your micro-location. You can set your own rules for the kind of notifications you would want to receive from various BLE devices, right from entertainment units to security systems. For example, you could use beacons to send you a reminder, when you are out of milk in the refrigerator, as soon as you enter the kitchen.
3) To save energy and reduce costs
Beacons are affordable lightweight BLE transmitters that can turn a ‘simple’ home into a ‘smart’ home. These small wireless devices provide you comfort living at low cost by not employing any costly infrastructure or hardware installation.
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In addition, using beacons for home automation allows you to reduce power consumption which leads to effective cost-cutting in energy bills. You can either set up beacons to automatically turn off devices in your room as soon as you leave the room or send you a reminder if you forgot to switch them off. In case of latter, you can then simply turn off the lights using the appropriate app in your smartphone. Most electronics companies are now busy launching new products that are iBeacon technology friendly. Philips Hue wireless lighting range is one such example.
4) For security Beacons allow you to easily monitor your home and control the door locks, thus making your abode burglar-proof. Beacons allow you to automatically lock the doors when you are leaving your house or unlock them when you are approaching the main entrance. You can even monitor any kind of temperature rise in the house using thermostats. A feature like this can warn you about smoke or fire in the house. Adding on to that, beacons can also help detect the presence of other people in the house.
5) To personalise your space
iBeacon technology examines user behavioural patterns, like favorite music genre, preferred light setting, most watched television channels, and more, to provide you with a thorough comfort living experience. Home automation through beacons also allows you to allot specific tasks to particular BLE devices at a specific time as per your wish.
6) Easy installation
One of the biggest USPs of beacons is that it does not demand any technical expertise for installation. Anyone can easily deploy it in his/her home without a developer’s help. If you are planning to automate your home and make your personal space responsive, you can start by taking a look at our Beaconstac kits. Having taken note of the innumerable benefits that beacons offer when it comes to automating your home, businesses in the home automation industry are already looking into how they can make the most of it. Among the various beacon-enabled home automation players in the market now, we have listed out the three most interesting ones. They are:
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SmartThings, a technology company owned by Samsung, recently launched BeaconThings, an app that integrates iBeacon technology with the SmartThings devices. BeaconThings is organized into two different categories, namely ‘places’ and ‘areas’. ‘Places’ is defined as a major field space that includes multiple minor ‘areas’ within it. For instance, home would come under the ‘places’ category while kitchen would come under the ‘areas’ category. Multiple home areas can accordingly be managed by the user.
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Oort app communicates with a variety of Bluetooth profiles using iBeacon technology. Beacons are attached to the appliances you would want to control remotely, which are then connected to the Oort hub. This Internet of Things (IoT) hub accesses the home automation system’s cloud which further enables the app to control the BLE devices. The hub supports both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. You can set off different actions by a single tap in your smartphone screen, thanks to iBeacon technology.
3) Simple Control (formerly Roomie Remote)
Image source: automatedhome.co.uk
Simple Control, formerly known as Roomie Remote, won the 2015 Mark of Excellence Awards, announced at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show (CES), as the home technology app of the year. This ‘universal remote’ replaces the multiple remotes used in a home to control home appliances and other electronic devices. This home automation player, which previously worked only with Wi-Fi, realized the power of iBeacon technology and thus beacon-enabled its software.
In case there are any other home automation players that you think are leaving an indelible mark on the home automation industry, then feel free to mention them in the comments below. You can also share your experiences of using beacon-enabled home automation devices.
If you are planning a beacon pilot, take a look at Beaconstac, that includes everything you need to get started. Using Beaconstac you can set up your own campaign, without a developer’s help!