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iHome: the house that thinks in sync

With a few simple clicks, the user can unlock the door, open the garage, turn on the lights, regulate heaters or control of the volume – and genre – of music in one room to the next. Electrical and water consumption can be monitored as can any suspicious movements in or around the property. If it all sounds too complicated, you can programme the network system to recognise your voice commands or even a snap of the fingers. The house will automatically know how to react.

For all this – and much more – to work, your abode must be set-up. Once done, the Smart Home (domotique in French) can help lower expenditure, ensure the safety of your family, and save time and energy. “First and foremost, it’s about making everyday life more comfortable,” sums up Marc Marin, the co-founder of Your Smart Home Design on the Côte d’Azur and a specialist in transforming ordinary properties into smart living spaces.

A few simple examples: you can enter a room and the lights automatically come on or, with one gesture, the house gets up with you in the morning (lighting, heating in the bathroom, coffee machine). The lamps or TV will turn off if you are out of the room for an extended period. Your exterior gate can also be primed: if your car is equipped with a geo-tracker, the gate will open automatically as you near the entrance.

The second argument in favour of adapting your home with smart technology is, according to Marin, the energy saving factor. Electricity, gas and water use can all be recorded automatically and the live data retrieved whenever required. Even if you’re away from your property, issues such as a water pipe leak can be signalled immediately via your phone and, should the rains come, you can stop your garden irrigation system at one click.

Benefit number three is safety. There are innumerous applications for monitoring your property from a distance and thus, also a range of smart security solutions: motion detectors, surveillance cameras, fire detectors, humidity and water sensors… Intelligent cameras, explains Marin, can notify the homeowner in an instant of any abnormal activity. 

“It’s especially useful for people who travel a lot,” Marin emphasises. “They can not only see what is going on in their absence, but also control all manner of functions, for example, switching on the heating so that the house is warm and welcoming on their return.”

On one hand, smart home technology automates everyday tasks while on the other, device settings – heating, lights and loudspeakers, for example – can be easily adapted to the personal needs of the user via their smartphone or computer.

“You don’t have to automate everything – just as much as you are comfortable with! The overall goal is that it’s easy and intuitive –otherwise what’s the point!” 

Prices for a basic network system start at a few thousand euros: “Depending on the number of rooms,” explains Marin. The costs are set according to the brand and requirements of the system.

Even though many new buildings and developments are integrating more and more of this technology into their plans, the Smart Home is still a long way from being considered a living standard.

“The mass market is still growing,” notes Marin. The reasons, perhaps: price, fear of technical complexity, and last but not least, the concern about data security.

For Marin, however, the advantages clearly outweigh the negatives. As far as data security is concerned, he works with exclusively high-quality brands.

“Good systems are safe,” he says, “but you don’t have to automate everything – just as much as you are comfortable with! The overall goal is that it’s easy and intuitive –otherwise what’s the point!” 

 

Aila Stoeckmann

*Originally published in the #177 edition of Riviera Insider