Dubai: Feel in the mood to Google up your home? Or call in a bit of help from Amazon’s Alexa?
More of UAE’s residents are getting the tech giants to make their homes “smart” enough, whether it is to better manage their energy consumption or secure their homes (and keep a check on the kids) with in-house cameras. All of which can be set and monitored through an app.
Or even place an order with a nearby restaurant through Alexa, the digital assistant who is there with an answer to your every need. And better do it through the Amazon Echo, the speaker, while you are at it.
Market sources say that such smart home enablers are turning must-haves over the peak holiday buying season. (And there is Apple waiting in the wings with its own version of a home speaker, the HomePod, which it says should be out sometime next year. Put that one down for 2018’s gifting season.) Creating smart homes are finally reaching a point where they represent less of a cost burden for tenants to install. And today’s smart home technologies are moving further away from being a pure lifestyle or entertainment experiences to something that is more day-to-day and utilitarian.
So, it is becoming less about being able to open and close garage doors using an app, or about having pre-programmed music of your choice filtering through the moment you open the front door.
No, these days, it is making sure that you can better control your electricity bills through a digitally integrated thermostat such as Google’s Nest.
“No longer are smart homes associated strictly with wealthy living,” said Hassan Ali Reza, Manager of Unitas Tech, a systems integrator. “The tools are now a place — from Google or Amazon — for better control of what takes place inside your homes when you are not there. And for value-added services, if you are home.
“Today’s algorithms monitor your behavior and can turn on and off connected devices by themselves. The idea is that it becomes responsive to you rather than some mechanical contraption.
“What we are seeing now is smart devices turning mainstream in the UAE, offering everything from security to energy management and all the frills in between. All that you need is an app that connects to your phone in a seamless manner. Anyone offering that ease of interface will pull ahead.”
Systems integrators are also out to dispel the notion that these devices can only be installed and made app-enabled at brand new properties and buildings.
All that is required is a bit of tinkering on the part of the technician to open up the air-conditioning unit, change the relays and capacitors, and then make the necessary adjustments to the voltage. And it does not get more expensive to install in older buildings.
“What a device like Google Nest allows is constant monitoring from your app and all of the changes can be done in real-time,” said Reza. “If need be, the thermostat ‘looks’ at your behavior and can switch modes at off-peak usage hours.”
Dubai’s developers are also cottoning on to smart home possibilities. Those at the luxury end of the development spectrum already integrate these features, but more accessible pricing is now allowing even mid-tier players to think of offering a smart-enabled home.
“For now, the demand we see is more from the villa segment in terms of ordering smart home systems [thermostats, tablets, cameras, etc.],” said Prakash Kumar, CEO of Rupani Solutions Systems. “We see this being adopted over the next two to three years in mid-tier development as the cost of implementation continues to trend lower.
“There is a lot of anticipation for Apple’s HomePod device, which is now expected in the first quarter of 2018. In terms of prices, Amazon has the greater breadth of products, but Google is rapidly catching up.
“Prices range anywhere from Dh300 to Dh4,000 depending on what features and gadgets customers want to install. But these prices have halved over the last two years indicating that, at these price points, the acceptance levels have increased.”
Getting smart about energy savings
* Demand for smart-home installations are coming in from a much wider base in Dubai that was the case earlier. “We assume people on the Palm and Emirates Hills would generate the biggest demand for smart energy devices,” said Hassan Ali Reza of Unitas Tech.
“But we have had orders from homes in Motor City, which are still upper-end but not at the trophy end of the market. There is an environment where people are willing to experiment with new technology.”
Source: Gulf News