Can smart buildings really help to make life at home more pleasurable

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Criterion A: Describing the issue

According to; A smart building is a home or building, usually a new one, that is equipped with special structured wiring to enable occupants to remotely control or program an array of automated home electronic devices by entering a single command. Some electronic devices that can be controlled using this system include; security, heating/cooling, sprinklers, home entertainment, kitchen appliances, garage doors, e.t.c. Obviously, being able to control an entire home by the touch of a button seems a brilliant idea, but as with much technology it has drawbacks. As with much technology it will contain bugs, be very expensive, need maintenance, complicated to install and lead to an unhealthier lifestle.

For example a home is completely automated; many wont use it because they find it too complicated, if there is a defect in the system the whole house may become immobile or disturb neighbours with alarms. Also there may be many wires running round the house and it can lead to an unhealthy lifestyle because instead of getting up to do things all you do is press a button.

Criterion B: IT background of the issue

The first example of a smart home was probably that which contained a remote controlled or electrically operated device. But fully automated smart homes have only been around for the past 5 or so years. Technology involved in smart buildings is improving daily, the sky is the limit for improvements. Despite the obvious advantages of the system there hasn’t been a increasing trend in its use, probably due to lack of marketing, high prices and companies not taking advantage of this new system. Thanks to a technology known as powerline carrier systems (PCS) smart buildings have been set up without additional wiring, the system uses the existing wiring to perform its functions. One common protocol for PCS is known as X10, a signalling technique for remotely controlling any device plugged into an electrical power line. X10 signals, which involve short radio frequency bursts that represent digital information, enable communication between transmitters and receivers.

Criterion C: Analysing the impact of the issue

Smart buildings is a beneficial new technology, saving it users a lot of time and effort. However, this effort saving and the cost is what causes a lot of people problems. Although getting up to roll the blinds or switching on heating in another room does not take much effort, when it is done for us it can promote an unhealthier lifestyle. As well as this, it costs a lot of money both to install and maintain, costing its users a lot of money. Some will claim that the technology causes more problems than it solves which in some cases may be true, but if used properly should make life at home a lot easier. As mentioned, the system may cause the house to be immobile, this obviously is a large problem causing users a lot of problems, they may not be able to do simple everyday things such as open the garage door. Say for example the alarm goes off constantly because of a bug in the system, this disturbes the neighbours as well as the users.

Criterion D: Solutions to problems arising from the issue

As mentioned, the problems from the issue is that it promotes unhealthier lifestyles, bugs in the system cause a lot of problems and costs a lot of money. One solution to these problems is simply that a company should enter the market for smart buildings, offering higher quality products, for a lower price and better marketed. Or, existing companies pull it together and offer better quality products for lower prices. However, these existing companies have little incentive to do this and therefore this solution wouldn’t be as effective as that first mentioned. The problem that is the unhealthier lifestyle can be solved in one of two ways; the smart building reminds the users to do exercise or the users themselves adopt a healthier lifestyle. Ultimately the users are responsible for their lifestyle and cannot blame it on the computer, therfore users should take advantage of the time the system saves them and use it more productively such as for exercise.

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