Imagine living in a home that obeys your command, where every device and system can be remotely controlled. A smartphone or tablet operates the home theatre, dims lights, locks doors, turns up the heat and switches on the morning alarm. Not just from anywhere in the house but from any place in the world!
Sounds like a scene from a science fiction film? The truth is, the reel and real will soon merge in Kolkata, with smart homes set to become a reality. Kolkata-based real estate developer, Jain Group, has recently announced the city’s first smart apartment project – ‘Dream One’ – in New Town. Several others are firming up plans as well to integrate home automation technology in mid-category and high-end apartment complexes. Merlin Group, Unimark, Mount Hill, PS Group, MC Kothari, Sandhu Developers and Ideal Group are all going in that direction.
From access control that allows for opening or locking the entrance to an apartment when one is in office to switching on the air-conditioning before leaving for home so that it has the ambient temperature by the time one reaches it, home buyers will soon have a range of home automation options.
In ‘Dream One’, home owners will be able to integrate electrical switches and electronics in the apartment – lights, air-conditioning, television, music system, etc. – with their mobile phones to enable remote access. Besides, there will be access control for locking and unlocking doors remotely. If a friend or a relative arrives when no one is at home, the owner need not return. He/she just has to check the person's image by accessing the CCTV camera installed at the door and use an app to allow entry. There will be options to give access to only the living room or the entire flat.
Automation is the future
According to Sushil Mohta, the president of the Bengal chapter of the Confederation of Real Estate Developers’ Associations of India (CREDAI), smart homes are already a reality in Bengaluru, driven by demands from employees in the IT sector: and now, in Kolkata too, there is a demand for enhanced security and convenience features, particularly in Salt Lake and New Town-Rajarhat.
Several real estate developers feel that things are headed in a direction where automation will become a standard feature, much like ACs in cars. Home automation will become a matter of lifestyle and convenience. Rahul Pahwa of iYogi, that provides home automation solutions, says there is great potential for smart homes in Kolkata as it is a developing market.
With additional investment pegged at only Rs 2-3 per sq ft, home automation is accessible to all. The system can be customised to individual needs and budgets. If there is a concern, it is about the system's robustness to function 24×7 without a hitch. It will be hugely inconvenient if a software glitch or network issue affects the functioning of a home.
The cost will depend on the client's needs. It could start from 3-4% for an apartment priced Rs 1 crore and increase as additional features are added. While the cost of basic automation could work out to be Rs 3.5 lakh, that includes lighting and security, for a three-bedroom house, it can be slashed by selecting fewer features.
The most sought-after function on a buyer's wishlist is usually security, followed by automated and energy-efficient lighting systems.
The genesis of many smart home products was 1975, when a company in
Scotland developed X10. X10 allows compatible products to talk to each
other over the already existing electrical wires of a home. All the
appliances and devices are receivers, and the means of controlling the
system, such as remote controls or keypads, are transmitters.
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