Other Gadgets

Let the machines do it!

Sabyasachi Biswas August 14 | Updated on March 12, 2018 Published on August 14, 2013

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As machine-to-machine (M2M) communication technology gets better and less expensive, more home applications via smartphones are becoming possible.

When someone says “let the machines decide what goes around in your house”, it usually conjures up an image out of those sci-fi flicks where machines and Artificial Intelligence take over the world and make humans their slaves. Well, you can’t blame anyone for thinking like that – the third instalment of Terminator was titled ‘Rise of the Machines’.

But for the purpose of understanding M2M communication better, let’s not go that far ahead into the future (well, not yet) but think of something like the universal remote that Adam Sandler used in ‘Click’. Except, instead of the big, bulky remote control, the thing that controls everything is your smartphone or your tablet. Also, unlike Sandler in ‘Click’, you can’t control your dog or your kids with it.

So what is it?

“The universal remote and remote control apps and related devices have been around for long, so what’s new,” you might want to ask. Agreed, that devices like Logitech’s Harmony series of universal remotes have been around for some time, and iPhones have been controlling baby monitors and checking your pulse as well. But M2M communication, or Internet of Things (as it is called by many), is a level-up from all that.

Imagine this – your thermostat learns your working or school hours, and knows when you leave and when you get back. Based on that, it keeps your room ready for you. And in case you are planning to come back early, you can still have it ready via an app. Interesting? Well, this technology is already out there in form of the Nest thermostat.

But that’s just home-automation!

Yes, it is, in every possible way what you would call home automation. These devices still close or open the curtains for you, control the home lighting, open the garage door, control the music systems and put security measures in place. But now, these automation systems are on their way to get more flexibility thanks to extensive R&D and technology becoming less expensive (according to a study by Deloitte there may be 24 billion devices connected globally). Moreover, all this is happening around your smartphones.

So the home lighting and HVAC appliances were timed to operate via a control hub on a wall in the living room, can be controlled totally using an app on your smartphone. And your smartphone can tell your home appliances like smart ovens and smart washing machines if you want your potatoes crispy or your denims well scrubbed. LG already has the Thinq range of appliances for this.

What else is possible?

A lot, actually! There’s a lot that one can do around the house, while being miles away. You can feed your pets, send lock codes to your family for the security system, get the laundry done, and a lot more. While in the house too, you can use your smartphone or tablet to throw content to your television, tell your refrigerator if you need ice cubes or crushed ice etc. Moving a bit outside the house, you can use the smartphone to start your car and the aircon as well – Mahindra’s E2O has that tech, in case you were wondering.

But at the end of the day, you end up saving power – if your smartphone regulates appliances from miles away, you can turn off or change the settings (also if you forgot to do it on your way out) to save immense amounts of power. We aren’t far from the future. We are, in fact, living in it.

sabyasachi.b@thehindu.co.in

Published on August 14, 2013
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