Smart Home Automation

Enhancing home automation with IoT

February 2020 Smart Home Automation Integrated Solutions Products

It is common knowledge that security has traditionally been regarded as a grudge purchase. This, says Ingo Mutinelli, business development director at Elvey, is changing as homeowners recognise the power of security solutions to enhance both their control of home automation systems and visual verification.

Ingo Mutinelli.
Ingo Mutinelli.

The driving force behind this switch in mindsets, he believes, is the accelerated uptake of household devices and appliances that leverage the Internet of Things (IoT), combined with the desire of the system owner to have more control.

Elvey is a strong adopter of technology solutions that provide a faster return on investment for end-users. With a multitude of elements being driven by the cloud or apps, there has been a growing demand from end-users to have some form of control over their security and the nice-to-have systems that fit into security.

“Security system manufacturers have integrated many of these platforms into their control panels to offer this functionality. Let’s consider a traditional alarm system that can be disarmed and armed through an app on a smart device. This app now also allows control of the other household elements, with the provision of video footage and push notifications,” he explains.

By automating elements which are electronically driven, homeowners are given the power to improve their quality of life by implementing these enabling technologies and controlling them via a smart device. “Devices and building elements that can be activated, deactivated and adjusted include gates, doors, windows, thermostats, geysers, access control systems, lighting, window blinds and shutters, ovens, surveillance cameras, locks and alarm systems. In fact, anything that can be driven with a relay can be controlled from an IoT platform,” he adds.

Augmenting security

IoT and all devices on the security system augment the security element. “We can geofence a homeowner’s property and through the IoT platform that products like iotega and ZeroWire offer, when a person enters this area, the system will recognise the entry via a smart device app and the cloud. It will then sequentially activate pre-programmed scenarios that one wishes to happen, for example: ‘open the front gate, open the garage doors, close the gate, activate lights on the pathway, activate light at front door, unlock the mag lock on the front door’, and so forth. This all happens automatically once the homeowner has selected a specific programme choice.”

If the homeowner adds on video capabilities, then video clips can be automatically sent to them when, for instance, a child returns home, or when somebody is breaking in to the property. The bi-directional audio on cameras allows the homeowner to talk directly to the intruder or the child, in these instances.

Not only do home automation systems offer increased convenience, security and safety, but there is a further environmental stewardship aspect. “By only switching on lighting systems, thermostats and geysers when they are actually required, less energy will be used. The home’s passive infrared (PIR) motion sensors can be programmed to alert the control system when they identify the house as being empty (no movement) which can then deactivate lighting and heating to preserve energy. This benefits both the country, in terms of reducing the use of non-renewable resources, and furthermore decreases energy usage costs for the homeowner.”

Mutinelli says that the iotega and ZeroWire brands are the best-of-breed end-to-end IoT home automation products on the market, providing professional security together with complete home automation and video options. All of the devices run on one platform in the background and allow end users to have complete control and to receive push notifications on everything that happens in the home.

Wireless and secure

The Fibaro range of IoT devices that iotega and Zero Wire employ on their platform includes a number of interoperable elements that include gateways, actuators, remotes/fobs and sensors. All devices are designed to provide a comprehensive environment that adapts to the needs of the entire family and ensures personal security in case of a fire, flooding, or burglary.

All product ranges are wireless, providing ease of installation and labour savings. The devices are unobtrusive and easy to remove and then reinstall at a new property. The wireless connection is fully encrypted and the cloud servers are secure, for complete peace of mind. Added security benefits are the anti-jamming, frequency hopping, fully supervised, and two-way communication (online, offline, battery low, jamming attempt) features.

He cautions that although these systems can be used by the homeowner to control devices and appliances, they are not DIY and it is therefore advisable to contract a certified installer to set up the system for maximised operability and functionality.

“Any platforms used should be fully secure with the required encryption formats, providing the assurance that hacking and interference will not occur. Apps offered to provide the homeowner with control need to be reputable, encrypted and secure. As we see more connected devices becoming available on the market and the barriers to entry coming down, it is important to align oneself with a reputable supplier and service provider with a pedigree in professional security,” says Mutinelli.


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