Living within the Internet of Things

Home automation and assistive domotics

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a term that has been gaining more and more traction in recent years. It refers to the idea of having your things, devices, gadgets, or any type of smart device, all inter-connected through a network. This allows for an easier integration of the physical objects we use daily into the digital world.

One of the biggest trends to emerge as part of the IoT is the idea of home automation. Having a smart home has likely been a dream for many since the Jetson’s first aired in the early 1960’s. The essence of the idea is not to have things happen at the touch of a button but happen without doing anything at all. Your home should sense and know what your intentions are and be smart about the way it behaves.

Smart home image courtesy of Swisscom

Today there are a wide variety of smart home gadgets that are available on the market. Security and surveillance have seen some of the largest variety of technologies available mostly focused on smart cameras with motion sensors that can transmit footage over the internet regardless of where you are. Media and home entertainment has also been a big focus where you can now control music and video from your mobile device for any room in your house including lighting to set the perfect mood. And, of course, there are some more practical uses like cleaning robots such as the famous roomba (did you know there’s also a robot to mow your lawn, robomow?). Smart thermostats, automated sprinklers, cooking gadgets for sous vide, and a wide variety of chat bots for when your pet just isn’t cutting it for conversation. All these devices provide very specific functionality and it just wouldn’t be a smart home if they weren’t all connected. Naturally there are several universal hubs and controllers that take care of this as well.

This is all fine and interesting for the enthusiast or hobbiest but there are some really interesting applications to this type of technology that can make a huge impact on quality of life. There is a whole field dedicated to creating technologies to help the ever aging population called Assistive domotics.

At the heart of assistive domotics is the integration of home automation and digital health services. Specifically, the goal is to enable the elderly or ill to continue living at home where they’re comfortable rather than moving into a expensive healthcare facility. Some of the interesting devices that have been proposed recently try and tackle some common problems that older individuals face, such as managing and remembering when to take their medication. Monitoring the activity of individuals with dementia and ensuring they are safe in their homes can be done using internet enabled locks and cameras. There is also the consideration of medical supplies and recording their usage or when they’re about to run low in the case of oxygen tanks. All the data gathered can be relayed directly back to the doctor or the caregiver without having both individuals physically present together.

Having a healthcare system also integrated within the IoT opens up a whole world of possibilities in how we care and treat those that need medical attention. Having a home respond to your needs and look after you is an exciting and powerful concept with a bright future ahead.