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Consumers get smart as home automation ushers in a more secure approach

Home automation is enabling people to live smarter and more securely by intelligently connecting the various devices within their home. A lack of user understanding and concerns around data privacy have kept the technology in an early adoption phase, but a focus on innovation and security in companies such as Bosch is set to change all that

People are able to live smarter than ever thanks to technologies that automate home living. Smart homes not only make everyday life more comfortable, but also save energy and money, and help keep users safe. Innovative connectivity turns an entire home into a personal assistant and makes a broad range of devices your household partners.

However, the internet of things (IoT) should not just be connecting things for the sake of it. People expect technology to make their day-to-day lives simpler, more convenient and safer. Above all, they want it to be tailored to their individual needs.

“This is why we believe personalisation is the next big trend in IoT,” says Charlene Honour, country manager for Bosch Smart Home, which has now launched in the UK, Germany, Austria and France. “We are focusing on coming up with personal, emotional and responsive solutions. In short, we want to offer smart products and services that will act as assistants and partners to individuals, from mobility solutions, industrial technology and energy to building technologies and consumer goods.”

Home automation has been around for decades in terms of lighting and simple appliance control, but recent advances in mobile technology, voice recognition and data analysis have allowed our personal living space to truly enter the connected world by enabling full control and adding autonomous capabilities.

We want to offer smart products and services that will act as assistants and partners

When connected to the internet, home products, from kettles to televisions to thermostats, can be controlled by a central mobile app. More than that, they can communicate with each other and act autonomously by understanding circumstances to drive optimum performance and create an intelligent living experience for users.

According to a survey by Bosch, which launched a smart-home portfolio last year, 59 per cent of home owners value the peace of mind that a smart home offers, 44 per cent would like to be able to control their home while on holiday and 68 per cent are attracted to the potential energy saving they can make. In another study by Intel, seven in ten consumers expected smart homes to become as common as smartphones within the next decade.

“Home automation is the way all our devices and appliances will be networked together to provide seamless control over all aspects of our home,” says Ms Honour. “You dictate how a device should react, when it should react and why. You set the schedule and the rest is automated based on your personal preferences, providing convenience, control, money-savings and overall smarter living.

“A smart home can also alert you to events that you might want to know about right away while you are gone, like unexpected access to your home. At any time, you can grab your iPhone, Android device or universal switch and change the settings in your house as desired.”

While smart-home technology has been around for a number of years now, adoption in the UK is still at an early phase and education is limited. In particular, 30 per cent of consumers are concerned about privacy issues when considering investing in smart home, despite 58 per cent accepting that smart technology can make their home safer. In a study by GfK, a lack of knowledge of products (25 per cent) and personal privacy concerns (22 per cent) were among the top three barriers to smart-home adoption.

These concerns relating to privacy and data security need to be overcome before smart homes can reach a phase of mass adoption. The answer, ultimately, lies in the products themselves. The Bosch Smart Home apps, for example, have been independently tested and found to be more secure than some banking apps.

All data collected by the company is either stored on a secure Bosch cloud or directly on to the Bosch Smart Home Controller, only accessible by the consumer. “Bosch is a German company and data security in Germany is extremely important,” says Ms Honour.

Physical security is even more important to consumers than data protection, which is reflected in the fact that automated security products are one of the biggest areas of interest. In the GfK study, security and control products were identified as the most appealing in the smart-home category, followed closely by energy and lighting.

Indeed, the smart home takes home security to a whole new level. The Bosch Smart Home 360° Indoor Camera, for example, combines microphone technology with an HD camera and enables individuals to deter intruders via the Bosch camera app, as well as communicate with loved ones and pets.

Tapping the “leaving home” button in the Bosch Smart Home app causes several pre-assigned instructions to be carried out, such as turning off lights, reducing the temperature and activating the house alarm.

This means if an intruder enters the property, the smart home is able to detect the intrusion and notify the user through the app in real time. An intrusion alarm is then triggered within the property via the smoke detector and any connected Philips Hue lights start to flash red alerting neighbours, and acting as a deterrent to the intruder.

Having been notified of the intrusion, the user can also view live footage from the 360° Indoor Camera and, if necessary, contact the emergency services. If the intruder cuts the cameras or wi-fi, the video footage will still be stored within the app to be used at a later date for security purposes.

While many smart-home security vendors record continuously and store all data in a non-secure cloud at a monthly subscription charge, Bosch’s HD indoor and outdoor cameras come with no monthly costs, protect the consumer data and offer a privacy mode when you’re indoors.

“Many traditional alarm systems simply sound an alarm, but the Bosch Smart Home gives home security a new dimension, offering real peace of mind,” says Ms Honour. “Security is the largest focus area for consumers, so camera technology plays an important role. Fortunately for Bosch, we have an existing security division which has been around for decades, so the technology for our smart-home cameras is fully developed and of a high standard.

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A smart home can enhance a consumer household into an intelligent living space whereby devices communicate with one another to make everyday life easier. And while security has received the biggest area of interest from consumers so far, comfort and energy savings also rank highly, particularly in terms of controlling heat away from home and keeping energy costs down.

Energy-saving smart-home products are increasingly attracting consumers who want to track and monitor their spending, be more eco-friendly or monitor household habits. Products such as wireless thermostatic radiator valves and door and window sensors have been proven to minimise energy costs while providing automated home comfort.

One popular use-case of how sensors within the home can communicate with each other to create an intelligent living environment involves the action of opening a window. The window contact senses the action and the Smart Home Controller contacts the app, which activates the “open window” scenario and turns the heating down.

“Smart-home products allow users to set scenarios for their products based upon their lifestyle and preferences,” says Ms Honour. “These scenarios are then activated and deactivated based on the consumer’s preference. Overall, the method enhances a person’s lifestyle as it makes their life easier and leaves time for the things that really matter.

“The products within our system-solution range can be used to program the heating to come on and off at certain times of the day. Instead of coming home to a cold house or leaving the heating on all day, the app calculates when it should start heating having been told the desired temperature and time. You could also program specific temperatures for each room of the home, thus being more efficient.

“With the Bosch mobility division heavily involved in autonomous driving, in the future we will no doubt have the functionality to enable an even more seamless and automated approach to people’s lives – watch this space.”

Bosch is becoming one of the leading companies within the internet of things market

Bosch has manufactured over six billion sensors for micro-electromechanical systems (MEMS), which go into the sensors at the heart of the internet of things, and has more than 1,000 MEMS patents. Globally, the company has 45,700 associates in research and development, 20,000 software engineers, 4,000 developers for the internet of things, and 94 research and development locations across 25 countries.

Through these capabilities, Bosch is becoming one of the leading companies within the internet of things market, which is expected to grow to $561 billion by 2022 from $170 billion this year, according to analyst firm Gartner. Telecoms firm Ericsson has predicted that 50 billion internet of things devices will be connected by 2020.

Bosch’s product portfolio is developed using the expertise of software, engineering and innovation within the Bosch divisions, such as Worcester Bosch Boilers, Bosch Security Systems, Bosch Home & Garden and Bosch Home Appliances. Bosch Smart Home was formed to connect these divisions and, with its ability to sync with Philips Hue products and compatibility through voice recognition of Amazon Alexa, it is able to provide a connected ecosystem that is unparalleled.

Currently there is a broad spectrum of home automation products which can be connected and paired with multiple partners and brands. However, Bosch Smart Home is steering away from this fragmented approach and instead offers a solution where consumers can create scenarios, such as “leaving home” or “open window”, to then perform various functions within their connected home.

“This offers users a product which is connected at the core and makes day-to-day life easier,” says Ms Honour. “Bosch is not reinventing the wheel when it comes to producing products for smart-home use. The technology behind the products is taken from already existing and mature business units. The divisions within Bosch have been producing quality products since 1886 when the company was founded.

“Strategically, we are focusing on putting three ‘Ss’ – software, sensors and services – at the heart of everything we do and producing all new consumer products with a connected functionality. With a trusted brand, a secure approach to the smart home and engineering excellence among our core values, Bosch truly is invented for life.”

For more information please visit bosch-smarthome.com

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