Are smart technologies getting accessible?

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Published on August 15, 2014 with No Comments

On the horizon there appeared an easily recognizable steeple of Dubai Silicon Oasis Headquarters nicknamed the Pineapple Building for its resemblance to the fruit of the same name. A free zone view made me think that I had not been there for a long time since much had changed for all that time. Construction fences rising everywhere are likely to produce more magnificent changes to the landscape in the near future.

Michael, an Intra House Technical Support engineer, was waiting for me on the glass bridge leading to the main entrance to the building. We plunged into the cool of the hi-tech Headquarters and taking the lift found ourselves in a more high-tech office of the Intra House. “What shall we start with? With theory or visualization?” – Sergey Shalunov, General Manager of the company, asked me smiling and holding out his hand to me.  “Let’s start with the visualization” – I replied giving the show-room a once-over.

Then, this way, please, – Sergey showed me the way to a big doll’s house standing on a pedestal. ”This is our Wonderful Intra House.  We intentionally diminished and assembled all the system equipment of the Smart House in the doll’s house. In our opinion it symbolizes simplicity and accessibility. People are accustomed to thinking that such systems are something complicated, expensive and cosmic. We intend to break such stereotypes. Smart technologies are getting handy. It is a stable trend that our world is moving towards global automation at a frenetic pace. If we look back, two year ago ordinary cell-phones prevailed over smart phones on the market. However, last year showed an increase in the amount of smart phoned sold by 1,8% as compared with ordinary cell phones according to the data of IDC, an American market research, analysis and advisory firm. Automobiles are growing smarter. Today a standard complete set of an inexpensive car contains rain-sensing wipers, automatic low beam, cruise control, stability control… This list can be easily continued. Then, why should technological level of our houses where we spend a considerable part of our lives, where our children grow, remain outdated just like 50 years ago? Let alone commercial objects: hotels, office buildings, shopping malls, where automation is a direct extra income.  . A smart-phone appeared in Sergey’s hand. A light touch to the icon activated the Intra House interface. - .It’s elementary, and what is more important, user-friendly interface, he went on speaking. – People have no time to read user guides, they would like to find keys to all doors at once. Here you are, try it.   I take the smart-phone. The icon set does not cause any questions. A CCTV icon touch opens a video camera picture. I see myself since a camera set in the doll’s house is directed at us. I touch the house icon, a window appears showing all the systems located on the floors and rooms of the house. My touching the sequence of “Ground floor”, “Kitchen”, ”Blinds” activates an electric motor producing a slight buzzing sound.

At an instant the blinds in the doll’s house kitchen go down. Touching the “Climate” icon I see the temperature in the kitchen is +22C, and there is one more parameter which is equal to 30, it has something to do with the quality of the air in the house.  - What kind of parameter is it? – I asked - It is an air quality sensor control, – Michael replied, – Air pollution intensity is given in percentage terms for convenience. For instance, below 30% means clean air, but if you fry something like pancakes, this parameter will reach a mark of 50%, and if you have a smoke, it will be over 80%. Now if the sensor feels the quality of the air go below 30%, it activates exhaust ventilation and the air quality gets back to normal. I lower the temperature to +21C, a conditioner booster blue light is turned on.- Certainly, in this case the conditioner is not a real one, – Sergey explains, –  But believe me, to install such a system in the doll’s house is much more complicated than in a real one. Unique micro equipment had to be made and multiple nonstandad solutions had to be applied. Now we can expose out product at exhibitions and presentations all over the world. On the whole, the operation algorithm is fully identical to the field conditions.

Muhammad, Marketing Manager from Pakistan, turned on a projection unit and an interface image appeared on the transparent glass screen.  This interface was a little different from the previous one. Being more extensive, having the house planning it seemed to be more convenient than that of the smart-phone. - This version is intended for tablets and computers. – Sergey went on, – The size is the size. It is impossible to deploy all this variety on a small smart phone screen. Visually a Tablet version is more convenient, functionally, however, it is practically the same.  He touched an extraordinary screen intraActiveScreen is an interactive screen designed for exhibitions, presentations and show rooms. It is also our product. Sergey and Muhammad were telling me enthusiastically about the system features for a long time. They were playing with the lights, were pouring water to make the water leakage sensor work. The system was talking a human voice and was sending SMS, the guys set time for automatic blind lowering in the house and watering the lawn on the territory. As for me, I was trying to understand all this time whether it was a game resulting in laziness or a useful thing when you are totally pressed for time. At last we ended up with all options and I made up my mind to come to a more serious issue:- Sergey, could you voice your major arguments in favor of the house automation? In any case the SmartHouse system simply cannot be cheap. Why should a man who spends most of his time out of his house install it?

  • It depends on what you mean by «cheap». Everything is very relative. If your smart home management system contains an intellectual CCTV that recognizes your child and unlocks the door for him, it will be more expensive to some extent than just light and climate control. In any case, the price is comparable with the price of a not very expensive car. Why should a busy man equip his house with such a system? Firstly, to save time. You don’t bother about little things, which the system performs by itself, say, you don’t bother about going around your house to open or close blinds, to switch off the light, to raise the temperature in the nursery…  Secondly, for safety and security reasons. I mean to say not only about an alarm system or a CCTV. Water and gas leakage, ??² concentration in the garage and a lot more are under control. You control your house from the other side of the world. It’s great if you have the Internet, but if you don’t, then you can easily control your system by sending SMS. Thirdly, to control electric energy consumption. Setting the Save Energy System (SES) you can prevent excessive energy consumption, i.e. higher than a certain kilowatt per hour set by you. You are watching TV, your washing machine is working, the lights are on, you are very close to the limit of the energy consumption. This very time your system switches on the conditioner to keep the air cool. The energy consumption exceeds the limit and your system switches off the appliance which is the least important for you. The energy consumption remains within the limit, just like your monthly bills.
  • Almost everything you are offering a consumer can purchase separately.  The market offers a lot of security systems, climate control systems, swimming pool automation systems and what not…
  • Do you mean to say it is convenient to have several built-in remote controls or those piling your coffee table? We just convert all the systems into one handy interface. What you need is your smart phone and one tablet PC at home for convenience.
  • Are we talking about private houses? Any premises
  • Villas, apartments, penthouses, as well as any office buildings or workshops.
  • The use of automation systems with commercial property is not a novelty and is widely spread. A tough competition is facing you in this sector, I guess. How can you win a corporate client?
  • In fact we witness keen competition in any field. It’s hard to amaze someone today and we are not aiming at it. However, a corporate client counts well. In most cases he knows what he needs. For instance, a capitalization of a shopping mall equipped with automation control system is 7 % higher on the average. When a shopping mall costs, say, $ 150 million, this figure  is incomparable with expenses for this facility. A hotel offering its guests a smart interface in each room, that allows you to control lights, climate, blinds, information table  “do not disturb” for the maid, can also boast of a competitive advantage. Besides, if a room is vacant, the conditioner doesn’t work there. If a guest is expected according to the booking data, the system turns on the conditioner in his room one hour before his arrival making the room atmosphere comfortable. This way the hotel saves a considerable amount of money.
  • Sergey, as far as I know, Intra House comes from Russia. Why Emirates?
  • Vladimir Maltzev, Chairman of the Board of Directors and my partner is the Project leading engineer. It’s he who created and has been developing our products, i.e.  intraHouse software and ihServer for many years. We have equipped a lot of  private and corporate premises in Russia and outside Russia. We have highly qualified developers and technicians. Now we are entering the world market, and Dubai has proved to be the most appealing and suitable place owing to efficient logistics and an opportunity to bring Russian engineers and to employ foreign ones.  Apart from it, the Middle East market is extremely attractive for hi-tech today…. Leaving the Intra House office I was not quite sure that smart technologies had become rather accessible. However, the determination of Vladimir and Sergey’s team to make them as such is inspiring. It inspires to look into the future which is imperceptibly turning into reality. You never know how smart your houses will grow in the near future. And someone’s have already grown…

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