10 Hot Home Automation Trends

Crestron’s UFO-like touchscreen remote

Crestron’s UFO-like touchscreen remote

10 Hot Home Automation Trends

The latest buzz when it comes to managing and controlling your home.

by Lisa Montgomery, from Electronic House, November 11, 2010

Home automation, or home control as it’s also called, is constantly changing. And like most technologies, it improves with age. It gets smarter, less expensive and easier to use each year. We’d be remiss not to mention some of the improvements and enhancements destined to hit the marketplace—and your home—in the very near future. From 1 to 10, in no particular order, here are the hot topics.

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Thought Control of Surroundings & Communication

Thought Control of Surroundings & Communication

A new study by G.Tec allows participants to translate thoughts into smart-home commands.

This Future Watch topic was inspired by Can the Mind Control the Home?, an article by Rachel Cericola published in Electronic House, 7/8/2011. The general idea of brain-machine interface research is to give disabled people more control over their surroundings, but market ready products still seem years away. Watch the videos below and let us know what you think in a Reply below.

Think about how helpful would it be if air conditioning came on automatically when you felt warm, without having to use a remote control? Or how valuable it might be if doors could open themselves when you approach with hands full? Participants in new research can also control lights and thermostats, and even publish Twitter posts, but with today’s technology they have to wear special head gear with EEG sensors.

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ActiveCare combines Technology and Remote Monitoring

INSTEON Wireless Motion and Occupancy SensorMore and more companies are getting into the Home Healthcare market with products and services. Some, like Intel-GE Care Innovations, are large. Others, like ActiveCare, are small. And some will succeed while others, like Google will fail or leave the market.

I noticed in the press release below that ActiveCare is using the same ActiveHome software and X10-based sensors that I’ve used in my own automated home(s) for years as a Digital Home consultant. X10 is a mature networking protocol that communicates over radio signals or 110V power lines. It’s not the latest technology, but it’s cheap and works, usually.

With Launch of New ActiveHome Monitoring System, ActiveCare Opens Its CareCenter and Showroom to the Public

SALT LAKE CITY, June 27, 2011 — /PRNewswire/ — ActiveCare, Inc. (ACAR.OB) a leader in senior care technology, today announced the opening of its CareCenter and showroom to the public. Moving into its new state-of-the-art home earlier this year, the CareCenter operates 24/7/365 monitoring the health and well being of its members. Read More …

The future of connected health devices

IBM's Future of Connected Health DevicesFrom a recent IBM Executive Report:

Health device makers, to date, have primarily targeted consumers who are either fitness focused or chronically ill. But between these two extremes sits a large, fragmented and often overlooked population who seek better information to effectively manage their health. IBM research suggests that successful solution providers will approach this market opportunity as an ecosystem of partners – with an integrated solution that extends beyond the device itself. By plugging the information gap for these consumers, solution providers can help fuel healthcare innovation.

Read The future of connected health devices.

Health Information Seekers

From the report: The Information Seeker segment represents a broad spectrum of consumers unified in their need for assistance in managing a health challenge.

When will the Digital Smart Home market take off?

Market Research: Mass-market Households versus High-end New HomesDigital Smart Homes, including some of the same sensor and networking technologies that we promote for home health care, have long been associated with large and expensive new homes with custom installation. It’s a market that has languished as a niche for over 40 years now and has never managed to find its way to mainstream consumers. Why?

Someone asked that question in a forum I monitor, and I had to add my two cents, which I include here for perspective.

Contrast the Digital Smart Home with a modern car. When you buy a new car, it comes with everything included and already integrated to work together. There are many things you DON’T have to buy separately and install yourself, including tires, air conditioning, radio, CD-player, navigation, antilock brakes, towing package, etc.

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An iPad for All Ages

No computer skills required … and now no computer either

 

iPad for the Ages - from Toddlers to Seniors

Flickr photo credits: Toddler by umpcportal.com, Senior by Courosa, licensed under Creative Commons

 

Everyone says the Apple iPad is intuitive, easy to learn, and easy to use. It almost seems tailored to toddlers and seductive to seniors. Grandparents and great grandparents with no prior computer experience can reconnect with family and make new friends online with email, social media, and video conferencing. But as easy and seductive as  iPad is, it still required a PC or Mac in order to download or upgrade its software. Not any more. Apple changed that last week with its iCloud announcement and its latest iOS 5 operating system.

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Mini Eco-i-Lite: When a Great Product Review Turns Bad

Mini Eco-i-Lite, available at retailers like Amazon.com, Container Store and OfficeDepotBeing a digital home consultant and an advocate for universal design and simplicity, one of my favorite home automation gadgets is the nightlight with photocell. It improves the safety of moving about in a dark room, because it turns on when it’s dark and off when it’s light. Like magic, when you turn on the room’s light(s), the little nightlight turns off; and when you turn off the lights, the nightlight turns on again. That’s why I was happy to find a new version and wanted to write about it.

While visiting OfficeDepot in Houston, I discovered the Mini Eco-i-Lite. It only costs about $10 and combines the functions of a nightlight, power failure light, and flashlight. How cool is that? By addressing the combined benefits of safety, ease of use, and sustainability, it seems ideal for the elderly, so I bought one and planned to write a glowing review about it here. But all is not what it seems.

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Verizon & Healthsense Team on Home-Health Solutions

Verizon & Healthsense Team to Bring Home-Health Solutions to FiOS-Equipped Senior & Assisted-Living Communities

PRESS RELEASE: NEW YORK – April 27, 2011 – Verizon and Healthsense will help bring cost-effective wellness and health monitoring services to planned senior-living communities, under an agreement announced Wednesday (April 27).

The new services will be offered to senior- and assisted-living housing developments utilizing Verizon’s advanced FiOS all-fiber-optic network.  Healthsense’s Wi-Fi based technology systems will provide increased independence for residents and added assurance that they are safe.

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Future of Home Automation (market research)

Reportlinker Adds The Future of Home Automation

NEW YORK, May 17, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — Reportlinker.com announces that a new market research report is available in its catalogue:

The Future of Home Automation [mHealthTalk comments and emphasis added]

http://www.reportlinker.com/d0105687542/The-future-of-the-Home-Automation-Industry.html

Introduction

This [$2,875] report examines how consumers and governments are creating a booming market for “smart home” devices. It analyzes the companies, technologies, and products behind automation in energy, entertainment, home security and health care. It details pilot projects, product costs, industry trends, business alliances, and the new and emerging technologies that are shaping the future of the market.

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IBM’s Jeopardy-winning computer is delving into medicine

IBM’s Watson supercomputer beat the two world champions in the intellectual game of Jeopardy in January, and now the company plans to extend its artificial intelligence and language abilities to the task of medical diagnoses and treatment. USA Today covered the announcement and its potential.

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Verizon, Healthsense Bring Solutions to Assisted Living

Alliance Will Promote Cost-Effective Monitoring and Response Systems

NEW YORK (4/27/2011) – Verizon and Healthsense will help bring cost-effective wellness and health monitoring services to planned senior-living communities, under an agreement announced today. [mHealthTalk editor: Healthsense also provides solutions for home healthcare.]

The new services will be offered to senior or assisted-living housing developments utilizing Verizon’s advanced FiOS all-fiber-optic network. Healthsense’s Wi-Fi based technology systems will provide increased independence for residents and added assurance that they are safe.

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Home Healthcare products shown at Electronic House Expo

The Electronic House Expo is a trade show produced by CE Pro magazine for the custom electronics business. Home Healthcare, Home Automation and Home Entertainment were just some of the applications demonstrated this year at EHX 2011 in Orlando. The following video shows highlights of the show.

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Wanderers welcome: New technologies for resident safety

By Julie Williamson, 4/01/2011, with permission from McKnight’s Long-Term Care News & Assisted Living

Much of Julie’s advice for assisted living centers can also help people with neurological problems stay longer in the familiar surroundings of their homes, so I thank her for letting me republish it here.

As more seniors enter assisted living with mild to moderate dementia, operators are faced with a somewhat daunting dilemma: how they can keep residents who tend to wander safe, without stripping them of their independence and freedom to roam the community they call home.

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Social and Economic Trends that affect Home Networks

What is driving and enabling the Networked Home?

I wrote this article back in 2001 with a look 10-15 years into the future, just half way through a typical home mortgage. I republish it here, because it’s still relevant today and applicable to home healthcare and the aging-in-home market. [2011 updates are added in italics.]

Homebuyers often ask this question if they’re concerned that their new home might be obsolete before they sell and move out (or if they’re starting to think about home healthcare).  Builders also ask it, since they don’t want to add new features until customers demand them but want to plan for shifting attitudes.  And companies that make the products, services, and technologies want to understand the market opportunities, leverage points, alliances and risks.  Although the question is simple enough to ask, the answer can be complex and involves a discussion of many technology, market and social trends.

This was the last of a three-part series exploring trends driving digital home technologies. The first article covered Science and Technology Trends, and the second focused on Market and Consumer Trends.  As always, your comments and suggestions are encouraged.

Demographic Trends - Live births per year, in millions

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Smarter Homes for Home Healthcare

Mr Coffee

Mr Coffee programmable coffee pot

Smart home technologies can anticipate needs and make tasks easier or automatic. They’re not just about high-end new homes, proprietary technologies, and professional installation. They’re about comfort, convenience, entertainment, energy management, communications, pet care, surveillance, and security & health monitoring. And you can often install them yourself, starting with the simplest of applications.

Your Coffeepot – I bet, if you look around, you’ll find that you already have some home automation products. It’s really not scary. The purpose of this article is to get you thinking how these products can help with home healthcare.

I was still working at IBM as a market strategist when our family moved from Dallas to Austin. I was trying to convince IBM that it had an IBM-scale opportunity in home automation, and I was studying that market. So when I built our new home, I used it as an experiment. I figured if my technophobic wife warmed to the benefits, then others would too. She did, mostly, and I learned a lot.

The local paper wrote a two-page article about my house, Home Automation Station, but that was 1997, and I retired two years later to become a Digital Home consultant.
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Are “Smart Home” technologies ready for mainstream?

30-page Virtual Trip Report of CES 2011

30-page Virtual Trip Report

An Unplggd.com article prompted me to write this article. As a long-time Connected Home consultant and marketing strategist, I have developed strong opinions about what it will take. Find me at http://waynecaswell.com.

Back in 2004, market research that I did for Parks Associates concluded that the Connected Home industry is “finally poised to cross a 30-year-old chasm separating high-end new homes from much bigger opportunities in mainstream retrofit markets.” That was based on my observation that several new networking standards finally allowed products to scale up- and down-market, from DIY projects in small homes to complex, system integrator projects in large homes and commercial office buildings. The promising new technologies included HomePlug & Insteon (powerline), MoCA (coax), HomePNA (phone lines), and Wi-Fi, Zigbee & Z-Wave (wireless).

But it’s been seven years now and so far no one’s got the right formula for success – not Cisco, GE, IBM or Microsoft, and not AT&T, Verizon, Comcast or Time Warner.

Will home healthcare and smarter, energy-saving appliances finally help people understand what’s possible? Yes, but will this be enough to drive mass market adoption of smart, networked sensor technologies? Or will the real driver be new apps on the iPhone, iPad and Android-based phones, tablets and TVs? Apps get my vote.
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