The future is now. Three companies are collaborating on a home gateway that will enable consumers to operate almost anything in their households by remote control.
Activated by a special app installed on a smartphone, a tablet, or a TV—as well as by sensors, smart meters, plugs, and appliances that seamlessly respond to such user interfaces as voice recognition and physical gestures—the platform will emulate the way in which humans react to the environment.
For example, a person with limited mobility could gesture to the TV to unlock the front door, turn up the heat or check vital signs. Or a working mother could view her home’s energy consumption; control security, heating and lighting systems; start appliances, such as washing machines and air conditioners; monitor health and assisted-living conditions; or make purchases via e-commerce.
The project was announced this week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas by computer giant IBM of Armonk, New York; in association with semiconductor manufacturer, STMicroelectronics of Geneva, Switzerland; and connected home specialist, Shaspa of Singapore. At the show, the three companies demonstrated the new platform, comprising ST’s Home Gateway and Shaspa’s embedded software, which act as a bridge between the home and cloud services provided by IBM’s SmartCloud Service Delivery Platform.
The gateway, based on a STMicroelectronics’STiH416, provides the physical connectivity, provisioning and management middleware, application protocols, and interfaces for connecting and controlling the “Internet of Things.” The connected-home System-on-Chip runs software, including Linux and a service management system compliant with the OSGi industry standard.
The infrastructure for the gateway-cloud service operation is provided by Shaspa’s GUI and application software. IBM Worklight in combination with the Mobile Interface of the Shaspa embedded software is the mobile application platform that enables end users to control and manage their homes from their personal devices. The mobile platform is used to build the application, connect the app to all the sensors within the home, and manage all events that take place. IBM software, such as MQ Series and Worklight, helps transmit the data to mobile devices. Data captured in the cloud supports the discovery of new insights through advanced analytics.
The connected home system will provide electronics manufacturers with a cloud platform to manage smart devices, as well as a plug-and-play method of rapidly introducing new consumer services.
“Thanks to emerging cloud services, we are entering a new era in which the role of the personal cloud is expanding into daily life and the smart home to improve energy efficiency, health and wellness, and home entertainment,” said Bruce Anderson, general manager, Global Electronics Industry, IBM. “This collaboration is a great example of how cloud computing can be used for business and industry innovation, versus solely for IT efficiency purposes. In the future, cloud-enabled electronics will sense what people want—evolving from seeing, to noticing, to remembering personal needs and histories.”
“Smarter buildings are an essential part of the journey toward a sustainable world, and this building-to-cloud system shows that connected living is becoming possible today,” said Oliver Goh, founder and CEO of Shaspa. “This secure, scalable offering with be the enabler for ecosystems, enabling the fast creation and deployment of value-add services.”
“The smart home is a key part of the smarter world we need to address important global challenges, including energy saving and more affordable and accessible healthcare, and many different technologies and skills must be brought together to accelerate its development,” said Alessandro Cremonesi, group vice president and general manager of Advanced Systems Technology, STMicroelectronics. “This demonstration confirms that ST’s solutions, from sensors, low-power microcontrollers and communications devices to home gateways, combined with our unrivalled track record in successful partnering, can contribute significantly to making smart homes a reality.”
The idea of an intelligent home that uses technology to enhance the lives of its occupants is far from new; in fact, it was a major theme in the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair. Dallas-based research firm Parks Associates forecasts that more than eight billion devices will be connected on the home network by year-end 2015.
Edited by Brooke Neuman