By David Johnson, Vice President, CIO, Information Technology, EPB
Next generation wireless technology and high-speed Internet is changing the face of home technology, and Chattanooga is prepared to lead the way. In 2012, the White House recognized EPB’s one gigabit-per-second fiber-to-the-home network and smart grid as a model to be replicated by other cities across America. Leaders have noted that Chattanooga demonstrates how a gig network has the potential to “change everything” for a city. It enables users to harness the Internet in new and exciting ways.
But what about the advancements in technology involving the smart home and how does EPB’s one gigabit-per-second broadband system and smart grid impact it? The answer is that they provide the platform for smart home systems to operate consistently at the highest possible speeds with the highest possible quality–while at the same time reducing our carbon footprint.
What is a smart home?
A smart home is one that uses home networking technology and internet connection to automate and simplify everyday living. It takes home technology beyond simple automation for individual devices – for example, your TV or air conditioning – to a network that connects all devices together and channels the control through an iPhone, iPad or PC. It is a home that allows owners to clean their house, do their wash, adjust their thermostat or lock the doors with a push of a button from anywhere in the world. It is a home that provides homeowners with the ability to monitor the usage of water, gas, electricity and even health care by the hour, in total and by device. It is a sea change that will revolutionize homes over the next decade. It will ultimately play a role in power companies and consumers agreeing to pay for usage by the time of day, and even rescheduling usage for the most optimal and efficient use of power.
New Wireless Technologies
Wireless technologies including Z-Wave and ZigBee are emerging as the front runners in providing network communication between home devices and the Internet, from which homeowners can manage their smart home. The higher the capacity and speed of the Internet, such as EPB’s broadband, the greater the speed, consistency (fewer disconnects) and quality (for example, facial recognition images for home security).
Among many, some of the leading smart home applications include:
Networked wall switches, power sockets and light fittings can be switched on and off or dimmed from your phone, iPad or PC.
Facial recognition, security cameras and other home security options can be monitored from your phone, iPad or PC.
The traditional door key will become a manual backup to automatic door locks. NFC (near field communication) tags can be read from
a mobile phone to unlock a door.
iRobot Roomba has made a name for itself with generations of ever-smarter robot vacuum cleaners that automatically patrol your house for grime and even recharge automatically. These too can be controlled from a smart phone, iPad or PC.
The Korea-only Samsung model lets you order groceries online, check your calendar, leave memos, view photos, check the weather and use Twitter. LG allows you to monitor your grocery stocks by scanning the barcode as they were bought and used up, then suggesting recipes on request – and you can access it via your phone, iPad or PC.
Monitoring and controlling central heating and air conditioning will connect to your smart phone.
Curtains and blinds:
Automated curtains and blinds are old hat, but smart automation now ties them into the same timing and control systems as for lights and heating. This can minimize energy loss, close your house to bright sunshine or open the curtains to a sunny day.
At first sight, the bathroom isn’t an obvious location for smart home technology, but what about filling your bath while you’re on the way home or while you’re waking up in the morning?
Have you ever thought about monitoring how that Sunday roast is doing while watching your daughter’s soccer game, adjusting the cook time given an unexpected overtime in the game? Well, now you can.
Fortunately for Chattanooga residents, EPB’s one-gigabit-per-second fiber optic network and smart grid system offer a platform from which new home technologies can operate at the highest level of quality, while providing homeowners with a new level of convenience and more efficient use of power that contributes to a healthier environment. The future for smart home technology is bright and Chattanooga is ready for it.