The Internet of Things (IoT) is the current buzzword word in the world of technology. Everyone wants their appliances and electronics to act 'smart'. Gadgets will soon be able to learn and adapt to the user's behaviour and they will be controlled by smartphones. We still have some ways to go before our homes resemble those of the Jetsons and Iron Man, but we are making progress.
In the US, the IoT industry has taken a few leaps in the area of home appliances but in India, many advancements are either not available or are prohibitively expensive. Over the past couple of years, some Indian companies have been trying to modify smart technology for the Indian market and make it affordable as well. Let's see what you can do today to make your home, 'smart'.
Usually, when you think about IoT, the first thing that comes to mind is lighting. Smart lighting solutions have led the IoT trend. And, leading the segment is the brand, Philips Hue, which was was launched in India in October. The catch here is that even the starter pack, which contains a hub and two bulbs, will set you back by a cool ₹15,000.
Delhi-based Cube26 has very up-to-date technology for connecting smart bulbs. Their product, called IOTA Lite, employs a Bluetooth connection instead of a central hub to control smart LED bulbs. You can use the IOTA Lite app to control as many as 10 bulbs. The bulb has many features, besides the 16 million colour options (yes, you read that right) and the light intensity control, that is. You can opt for different modes, such as the reading mode, party mode, kaleidoscope mode, strobe mode and so on. Each mode can be customised to your own requirements
The app can also sync the bulbs to the music you are playing and switch colours according to a song's beats. The bulb can also give you notifications for SMS, important calls and weather changes. The bulb is a plug and play device, though you can always use a special socket connector to connect it to a regular bulb socket at home.
Good television sets are now quite affordable but should you desire an Internet-connected smart TV, it will cost you an arm and a leg. Instead, you can buy a Google Chromecast and make your TV smart.
Chromecast is an HDMI stick you can plug to your TV and stream content from you smartphone, tablet or computer. You can cast movies from Netflix, videos from YouTube or audio from your music library. The stick is priced at ₹2,999 but there are plenty of deals on e-commerce websites where Chromecast is available at a cheaper price.
If you don't want Chromecast you can get a TeeWee stick for ₹2399. The unique thing about this stick is that it allows you to stream Torrents from your desktop. Plus, you can access all the content from the centralised app as opposed to multiple apps in Chromecast. Although, Chromecast has its advantages in its number of apps and variety of content.
There are many appliances in the house and a switch control hub can come in handy to streamline things.
There are many options available in India now to make your current appliances smart. Pert is one of the companies offering switchboard modules that fit into your existing system. It is a WiFi enabled module that can be controlled by an app. It can switch on appliances or turn them off, and regulate light dimmers, fans and ACs. The app also provides a graph of energy consumption over the time. One module has 8 connecting nodes and costs ₹5,999.
If you are looking for a more sophisticated solution there is Air. It will cost you ₹24,999, but the starter kit covers multiple rooms and devices. Air also gives you dimmers in the pack to adjust light intensity. Other unique features include presence detection, smart scheduling, and a fuse in every module for safety.
Finally, there are the audio systems. Mention smart speakers and Sonos is the first name that comes to mind. In India though they cost a bomb. One speaker will set you back by₹23,000. So, Sirena tech is planning to launch connected speakers in the more affordable range of ₹10,000.
These speakers will come with LED rings that can change according to the song. You don't need a hub to connect multiple speakers, they connect to your WiFi network and can be controlled by an app. Sirena is developing speakers that you can take with you while travelling and make the central speaker act as a WiFi hub for other speakers and the smartphone.
Sectors such as home security and smart locking are currently limited to corporate solutions and keypad locks. A real differentiator would be products such as Dropcam monitoring system and August smart lock. Currently Motorola monitoring systems are available in India, as well as basic smart locks such as Noke. On the other hand, Godrej is selling smart security solutions but the price range starts above ₹10000.
A big challenge for the budding Indian IoT sector is the lack of centralized protocol to adhere to Indian standards. Indian homes can be very different when it comes to structure and appliances being used. On the other hand, say, in the US there are many centralised hubs such as Homey and Wink which can connect to multiple devices.
IoT awareness and technology in India is growing fast. A study by Gartner says that IoT adoption in Indian corporates will grow by 50 percent in 2016. Meanwhile, the government of Andhra Pradesh government has given a nod to IoT policy to make the state a hub for smart technologies by 2020. The AP government aims to develop a 1000 innovative companies over the course of the next 5 years.
But if you don't want to wait for Indian products there are plenty of options in each smart technology sector, from smart coffee machines to technologies for pets. Let us know in the comments section which of your appliances would you like to become 'smart'.