Last week, a Smart Home Expo was held in Mumbai at the swanky Jio Convention Centre. With walk-ins of nearly 5,000 visitors daily, it was quite a hit show. It was also a relief that a ‘real’ event was happening after almost two years of the ‘COVID pause’ - very liberating in a way, and perhaps the reason why it attracted teeming crowds. The visitors were a motley set consisting of architects, interior designers, consultants, system integrators, developers, end users and even casual visitors who strolled by during their lunch break from the nearby offices at Bandra Kurla Complex.
For the uninitiated, home automation is, simply put, a means of controlling your home – lighting, air-conditioning, appliances, curtains/drapes, entertainment systems and even security systems. So, there were all these folks from Indian and international brands like Tata Power EZ Homes, Polycab, GM, Schneider and many others jostling for attention at the expo. There were audio-visual equipment providers, smart switches, curtain and blinds controls, smart locks and the works. From being an exclusive preserve at high-end homes and toys in the hands of the rich and famous, home automation now has evolved. Technological advances have put smart homes within reach of the whole spectrum of consumers.
SMART HOMES FOR EVERYONE
From speciality brands dealing in smart home products which require specialised wiring to the now commonly available options, home automation in India has evolved beyond recognition and without compromising functionality. Lockdown days have helped catapult us to a very different level of technology adoption in our everyday lives and we are generally warming up to adopt automation in our own homes.
Automation blends with any décor to make life easy. Core benefits of a smart home or a home automation system can be broadly classified into one or all these categories – Comfort, Convenience, Security and Power Management. Some of the things that can be managed and controlled using a home automation system are lighting, appliances, security systems like motion sensors, intruder alarms, presence detectors, surveillance cameras, fire and gas monitoring alarms, air-conditioning thermostat control, curtains and blinds control, entertainment systems and the works. In fact, virtually anything can be controlled either through wall-mounted smart switches or a remote control or mobile phone app or electronic switches or even voice-activated control.
Smart home systems are available across price bands, depending upon the aesthetics and functionality for uber luxury homes to economy homes. This is largely driven by a sharp drop in the prices of sensors and connectivity. While lots of high-end systems may need you to strip existing wiring, there are equally capable retro-fittable options. One can benefit from the available automation technologies by simply retro-fitting the ‘hidden’ smart converters on your existing wiring and décor. With this, nothing changes from the outside, but the technologies work for you behind the scenes. You can continue to operate your lights and air-conditioning as usual with the same switches too… but in addition, you can control the lights or a group of lights (scenes) through your app or voice activation or even remotely from outside the house. Of course, you can create as many such scenes or moods as you like, group as many devices as you wish to, in various combinations, to make the perfect set-up for your home.
THE POSSIBILITIES ARE ENDLESS
The possibilities are endless and are just limited by your own imagination. My favourite one is what I call ‘vacation mode’. When on a vacation, you can make a random set of lights to come on and off at given intervals, giving an impression to someone watching from the outside, that someone is in the house. The good news again is that you won’t have to part with your kidney to get one of these systems.
For many, the desire to manage costs for living a sustainable lifestyle means they want to reduce the power consumption (read carbon footprint). Energy management and live power consumption features are now on offer and are a very strong stimulus for a lot of new home-owners. Whatever your motivation - cost management, comfort, convenience or even staying ahead of your neighbours, it’s always a good time to make a beginning. It’s an investment that’ll pay you back and make you proud.
(The author is a senior professional in the corporate sector and writes on varied topics that catch his fancy. The views expressed here are his own. He tweets at @sandeepbangia)