From CCTV to smart home

As you can already understand from the name, in this publication we will talk about the so-called “Smart Houses”. But for starters, a slight digression. I heard a story from my friends. A wave of robberies took place some time ago in the dacha village where their summer house is located. Moreover, the thief was distinguished by strange selectivity - he could not take a TV or a music center, but attach his legs to a set of drills for a punch (again, without touching the punch itself). The most interesting thing that surprised me the most was that we climbed into one house, while the owners were sleeping on the second floor. An uninvited guest took advantage of the refrigerator (there may be word of mouth, but they say that he even managed to watch TV), after which he left, well-fed and pleased.

As the saying goes, "stupid people learn nothing, the smart learn from their mistakes, and the wise learn from the mistakes of the smart." So, after this story, I decided to fall into the category of wise people and, accordingly, preoccupied myself with the safety of my “country estate”.

The very first thought was to get a simple DVR somewhere on 4 cameras and install it to monitor the house. Everything would be fine, but, in my opinion, there are a number of drawbacks where each subsequent one is a consequence of the previous one:

• It is necessary to take care of creating wired connections between the DVR and surveillance cameras. It should be noted right away that this problem is not worth it with IP cameras that support Wi-Fi;
• If an attacker spots a camera, he can track where the DVR is located via a wired connection, and then disable it (or take it with him for a subsequent sale). Since recording is carried out directly on the device itself, this circumstance can negate the whole expediency of its installation. Here you can use 3G / LTE routers that will transmit the video stream over cellular networks and store it on a remote server. Of course, we will not exclude the option of hiding the DVR where no one will ever find it;
• It is advisable to always be in front of the monitor in order to respond in time to a potential robbery. Otherwise, the cameras will simply record the fact of the invasion, and I think it will not be much easier from this, although this can make it easier for our valiant police to find thieves. In this case, the presence of some cameras motion sensor and the ability to alert via SMS / MMS / email may come to the rescue. Or separately purchase motion sensors and integrate into the video surveillance system.

In general, in order to effectively protect your home from potential intrusion, it is necessary to take into account a number of, at first glance, insignificant factors. Trying to delve into all the nuances and getting acquainted with the capabilities of modern equipment, I suddenly wanted something more than just organizing my own video surveillance system. As they say, appetite comes with eating. For example, I was interested in the possibility of using a sound and sound alarm for a country house - when a motion sensor is triggered, a siren and a stroboscopic alarm are activated. After all, an additional deterrent in the event of a robbery.

And here we come to the most interesting. I think many of us on the vast expanses of the World Wide Web at least once came across such a phrase as Smart House / Smart Home. As the name implies, this is a kind of intellectual and quick-witted house or dwelling. Or the so-called "Smart Home". Personally, I do not really like this name. In my opinion, the house should be convenient and reliable in the first place, but we will not tear patterns.

According to Wikipedia, the development of smart home technology began in the mid-90s of the last century. Thus, the market has been developing for almost 20 years, but the main problem, in my opinion, is that few people were able to clearly formulate and offer a universal definition for a smart home during this time. Everyone who works in this area has their own opinion on this matter.

So what exactly are all these highly intelligent systems?

In order to answer this question, I propose to go from the opposite. That is, to look for the answer is not what various companies offer, but what the user ultimately wants to see.

Someone sees a smart home as a system of intelligent video surveillance of the home, someone as a climate control system in a room, someone is tempted by the ability to control all electrical appliances with an infrared port from their smartphone. For someone, the ability to feed pets or automatic watering plants during the next vacation is important. Someone is interested in minimizing energy costs and optimizing the operation of household appliances. And someone needed all of the above and plus everything was provided for the possibility of voice commands, and the system itself should answer with the voice of Jennifer Lawrence, well, or at least just answer.

In my opinion, a smart home solution aimed at people who are trying to lose weight would be popular - install a video camera inside the refrigerator and post photos taken after 6 pm on Instagram, and at the same time the latest data from floor scales, which should also be connected to this system.

Many people mistakenly believe that the “smart home” system is mainly decorative in nature, for example, turning on / off the light, opening / closing a door, etc., from one console without getting up from the sofa. Not certainly in that way. The lighting and power subsystems can significantly reduce power consumption. As a standard example, some systems can automatically turn off the light in the room when a person leaves it and vice versa. With the joint use of electric heaters and air conditioners with temperature and humidity sensors, you can achieve a comfortable microclimate in the room, minimizing the cost of electricity. The system itself will turn on or off the device responsible for climate when a certain temperature in the room is reached. On average, you can reduce electricity costs by 30%,

Some advanced users with sufficient knowledge are able to create a house with their own hands (in some cases, even from improvised means), which will be able to fulfill almost any of their whims. Unfortunately, there are not so many such people and the mass production of such solutions is rather difficult.

Currently, there are quite a number of different companies on the Internet offering you to create a smart home of your dreams. For the most part, these are turnkey complex solutions of varying complexity, from one-room apartments to country houses from the adjacent territory. Companies use products from various manufacturers specializing specifically in the design of equipment for smart homes. When creating a transmission network, both wired (Ethernet, PLC) and wireless (Wi-Fi, ZigBee, Z-wave) technologies are used (we will try to understand the pros and cons of each in subsequent articles).

By the way, the current year 2014 is also notable for the fact that many giants producing household appliances announced their desire to occupy their niche in this emerging market. Among the main players are Samsung and LG. Even Apple has expressed a desire to take part in this race. The latter, in my opinion, may lead to even greater disagreement over what the smart home system should include. It means that the proposed functionality is needed because it is really necessary, or simply because it is offered by a top and fashion brand.

So, on the market right now the user is offered a wide range of equipment for creating smart homes for their own needs. It can be either integrated solutions, where the system is integrated into the existing housing infrastructure, or separate devices that will function parallel to each other and, if necessary, interact with each other. The user can contact a specialized company and get a turnkey solution, or independently purchase sensors and controllers and configure them with their own hands. The market is developing quite dynamically, but if we take into account the economic situation in Russia, the demand for such solutions is likely to decline. Still, people, first of all, it is important that their refrigerator is full, and, in fact, not the refrigerator itself,

In subsequent articles, we will try to figure out which basic functionality is preferable for a smart home. If possible, we will analyze the proposals on the domestic market for such services.

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