Domotics fascinates me. I’ve been dreaming of houses powered by the click of a button since I first visited Silicon Valley in 1999 and stepped through the door of a smart room at Intel. Today the first real services are appearing on the market and it’s not just lights that turn on by themselves or remote-controlled ovens, heating or air conditioning.
A hotel for all needs
A hotel in Fort Worth, Texas, for example, has already adopted many of the technologies now available, giving its guests a unique experience. Using a smartphone application, guests can adjust their room temperature, the light settings in their room and bathroom, their window curtains and even their shower temperature with precision. Potentially all the hotels in a chain will be able to share information on every guest, so they can have their preferred settings ready in their room before they arrive, even in different countries.
The giant Intel has already lent its support to building the hotels of the future. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the technology in the field here. It transforms the environment we live in by letting things communicate with each other. Times have changed since Verne took us around the world in eighty days. Now you can cover the globe in two days and celebrate New Year’s Eve again and again, communicating through any object to take advantage of the time zone difference. We’re witnessing the extinction of the phone as a separate entity. We’ve already had over a billion objects communicating with each other since 2015. The 9 billion phones not linked up are now in a minority and the wires for them are slowly vanishing.
Eni gas e luce
We are at the dawning of a new era and Eni gas e luce is ready for it with its services. Thanks to its agreement with Amazon, in fact, users can now hand some tedious household chores over to Alexa. Alexa transforms into Jeeves, totting up water, light and gas consumption, keeping them under control, making sure they’re paid for at the end of the month –in other words, making users’ lives easier. The Eni gas e luce website explains all about how we’ll achieve the house of the future very soon.
The home automation market is really growing in Europe. It was estimated at $1 billion in 2016 and will reach $5.9 billion by 2022. The United Kingdom, Germany, France, Spain, Italy and the Scandinavia together account for 80% of the European market, while Eastern Europe accounts for 14% of the share. The future belongs to companies who embrace the digital transformation and the new business models that spring from it –like Eni, an all-Italian example of a company that invests in the future. The advantages offered by so-called smart homes seem to have won over the more reluctant. Comfort and saving have won over people’s fear of losing their privacy.
One technology, infinite options
When I used to think about running my own smart home, I imagined myself in 2030, in a car –self-driving– in front of a garage that opened automatically and communicated with the rest of the building I was about to step into. And all of it possible because the price of networked locks was around the same as for normal locks, so hardly anyone used the normal ones anymore. Technological evolution was just a matter of costs. Security had come to mean a lot more than protection against different crimes. Sensors scattered around my smart home recommended maintenance work and communicated all the time with household appliances and cameras.
Meanwhile, snapping back from the world of dreams, we now have an increasingly pervasive –imperceptibly so– communication infrastructure. We must absolutely address these concepts because 5G will be what makes the difference. This new technology affects everyone, not just telecommunications operators. It’s drawn public and private bodies, shops, councils, businesses and individuals into its net. Wikipedia will tell you that the fancy word for home automation, domotics, is a combination of domus, meaning “house” in Latin, and “robotics”.
The area is extremely interdisciplinary because it has to involve lots of technologies and professions, including construction, energy and management engineering, architecture, automation, electronics, electrical engineering, telecommunications, information technology and design, and not least users who know they have useful tools at hand that will make them more informed and their lives better.
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