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Tuesday, Nov 19, 2019

Here’s how to make your home smart in a sustainable way

It’s not all smooth sailing when it comes to home automation. See how developers are tackling issues such as slow network speeds, backup and maintenance.

real-estate Updated: Nov 14, 2018 14:00 IST
Aishwarya Iyer
Aishwarya Iyer
Hindustan Times

Smart home are all the rage, but as with any new technology, implementation is key. Would you want a smart home where your curtains, your fire alarm and your front door all respond to different apps; or a smart lock with no facial recognition, which requires you to change your password every two weeks?

As smart technology begins to be integrated in residential construction, companies are juggling multiple apps vs slow network speeds; ease of use against greater security.

For instance, Godrej Properties now offers gas leak and fire alert devices and motion sensors in some homes. “With this, comes the responsibility of energy efficiency and the network plays a major role,” says Anubhav Gupta, head of sustainability and CSR. “One challenge is the local area network. One never knows when there will be fluctuations and system crashes.”

Elsewhere, recent home buyer Satish Shah, 28, an accounts executive from Andheri, has a security system with a numeric code but no additional checks, such as biometric or facial recognition. “It feels risky to me that the system doesn’t check who is entering,” he says. “So I end up changing my password every two weeks.”

There are unanswered questions too, such as what does one do when a smart system crashes?

Vidya Sridhar, 34, a homemaker from Versova, faced this just two months after she turned her home smart in January.

“When the video camera at the entrance hung, the doorbell and lock stopped working too,” she says. “Panic didn’t get me very far. Once I had calmed down, I had to I call the technician and wait three hours until he fixed it.”

Even when everything’s working perfectly, she adds, lights, AC and fans respond to one app, music systems and home theatre to another, curtains and blinds to a third, and the security circuit is different. “By the end of it all, I have about seven apps,” she says.

She is now planning to hire a startup to migrate all the smart facilities onto one app or website.

“While automation and the internet of things can make things easier, they also hold potential for malfunction and maintenance can turn tedious,” says Farshid Cooper, managing director at Spenta developers. “It’s a good idea to always have a manual system as back-up. Also, avoid budget devices and installers. It is better to have a builder install smart systems from the start, or hire a contractor if it has to be done after the building is up.”


People opting for connected homes should also be properly trained, says Ashish Hingorani, founder of home automation firm Avenue Sounds. “We integrate our voice recognition systems and smart devices to one point of control, a single switch, and we found that people didn’t realise that when they were cleaning or leaving the house, they shouldn’t turn off that main switch. So we have training sessions with our customers, more than once, if necessary,” Ashish says.

Glitches, for the large part, are just steps towards advancement, points out Pankaj Kapoor, managing director of realty consultancy Liases Foras. “The age of smart homes is just arriving in the country and the teething problems will soon be resolved,” he adds. “With more automation companies and cloud services emerging, the market is set to grow in terms of both supply and demand.”