The concept of Home Automation aims to bring the control of operating your every day home electrical appliances to the tip of your finger, thus giving user affordable lighting solutions, better energy conservation with optimum use of energy. Apart from just lighting solutions, the concept also further extends to have a overall control over your home security as well as build a centralised home entertainment system and much more. The Internet of Things (or commonly referred to as IoT) based Home Automation system, as the name suggests aims to control all the devices of your smart home through internet protocols or cloud based computing.
The IoT based Home Automation system offer a lot of flexibility over the wired systems s it comes with various advantages like ease-of-use, ease-of-installation, avoid complexity of running through wires or loose electrical connections, easy fault detection and triggering and above and all it even offers easy mobility.
Thus IoT based Home Automation system consist of a servers and sensors. These servers are remote servers located on Internet which help you to manage and process the data without the need of personalised computers. The internet based servers can be configured to control and monitor multiple sensors installed at the desired location.
Let us understand in detail the working of different smart devices which together constitute the Home Automation system.
Controller: The Brain of Your System
The main controller or the hub is the most essential part of your Home Automation system irrespective of whether you connect single or multiple sensors in your home. The main controller or the hub is also referred to as gateway and is connected to your home router through the Ethernet cable. All the IoT based sensors transmits or receive commands through the centralised hub. The hub in turn receives the input or communicates the output to cloud network located over the internet.
Due to this kind of architecture, it is possible to communicate with the centralised hub even from remote and distant locations through your smartphone. All you need is just a reliable internet connection at the hub location and the data package to your smartphone that helps you connect to the cloud network.
Most of the smart home controllers available in the market from several manufacturers cater to all three widely used protocols of wireless communication for Home Automation: ZigBee, Z-Wave and Wi-Fi.
Smart Devices: The Sensory Organs of Your Home
The IoT based home automation consist of several smart devices for different applications of lighting, security, home entertainment etc. All these devices are integrated over a common network established by gateway and connected in a mesh network. This means that it gives users the flexibility to operate one sensor based followed by the action of the other. For e.g. you can schedule to trigger the living room lights as soon as the door/windows sensor of your main door triggers after 7pm in the evening.
Thus all the sensors within a common network can perform cross-talk via the main controller unit. As shown in the figure, some of the smart sensors in home automation acts as sensor hubs. These are basically the signal repeaters of signal bouncers which that are located in the midway between the hub installation location and the sensors that are at a distant location. For such long distances, these sensor hubs play an important role to allow easy transmission of signals to sensors that are far away from the main controller but in closer proximity to the sensor hub. The commonly used sensor hubs in IoT based Home Automation system are Smart Plugs.
Wireless Connectivity: How the Internal Communication Occurs
Most of the IoT based Home Automation systems available today work on three widely used wireless communication protocols : Wi-Fi, ZigBee and Z-Wave
The ZigBee and the Z-Wave controllers are assigned a network ID which is distributed over other sensors in the network. The communication amongst devices take place in a mesh topology where there is no fixed path for the signals transmitted from the controller to the sensors and vice versa. Depending on the availability of the shortest path the signal from the controller will travel to the target sensors either directly or through signal hops. If any intermediate sensor in the pathway is busy or occupied the signal will trace another path within the mesh network to reach the final destination. Note that sensors with different Network IDs cannot communicate with each other over common channel.
Wi-Fi: Please explain this section.
The Cloud-based-Networking system involves storage and maintenance of data over the Internet location. This gives users the flexibility to have access to the data from any location on the planet.
As a result of this, in IoT based Home Automation systems users over the cloud network can send commands to the hub even from a distant or remote location. The hub will further send the signal for the intended sensors to trigger and perform the user-requested action. Once the action is performed, the hub will update the status of the action taken to the cloud network and in this way users can control and monitor every aspect of their smart homes.
Real-time monitoring and notifications is one of the key features of IoT based Home Automation systems. Since the hub is connected over the cloud network through the Internet, you can schedule various events as per your routine activities or daily schedules. The cloud network can receive and store all the user inputs and transfer them to the hub as per the scheduled events.
Once the hub transfer the desired signals to the target sensor and the desired action takes places, it will quickly upload the new status over the cloud notifying user instantaneously. For e.g. the motion sensor will instantaneously notify the user wither through emails, SMS, calls or App notifications when it detects any unwanted motion or intrusion. After receiving such notification, the user can quickly turn on the IP based home security smart camera can check the status of your home even from remote location.
It is not practically possible to trigger every action one by one in your day long busy schedule. This is where you can put the Internet to work for you. The IF This Then That (IFTTT) Integration helps you in this condition.
This enables you to create cascading effect of actions where the target action will trigger only when the IF condition is satisfied. Some of the examples of IFTTT triggers are like “IF” day temperature above 25 degrees, turn the ACs on and roll-down the curtain blinds. IF Movie Mode is ON, then turn the lights to 10% brightness, IF soil moisture less then specific values, turn the water sprinklers in the garden ON.
There are endless possibilities that you can create with IFTTT triggers and thus make the optimum use of your Home Automation system thereby making optimum use of energy and simultaneously enjoying a comfortable lifestyle.