A Truly Smart and Connected Home Begins with a Solid Foundation

A picture of a woman interacting with a wireless device.

 

Attendees flocking to CES last week were expecting, as they do so every year, Christmas in January: The newest, coolest consumer electronics, including the latest in smart and connected home technology. With the explosive growth in the Internet of Things, Intel has been focused on improving connectivity in the home, laying an important foundation for the smart homes of the future. Not only have we been building partnerships with service providers like Comcast, but also the industry OEM leaders who offer routers, gateways, and network-attached storage devices like ARRIS, ASUS, Belkin, Lenovo, Netgear, Phicomm, QNAP, and VTech.

Many of us already run numerous devices that are simultaneously connected to the Internet: the laptop, the kids’ tablets and video game consoles, the streaming video on TV, home security systems, everyone’s phones—never before have such huge demands been placed on the humble home Wi-Fi. And with more unceasing demands on the home network, consistently maintaining solid and reliable connectivity over a large footprint is no easy feat.

For this reason, we introduced Intel Home Wireless Infrastructure at CES to deliver consistent Wi-Fi performance and expanded in-home coverage. This new technology is optimized for a wide range of connectivity scenarios and supports virtually all client devices in the home network. Any home network can be intelligently managed for consistent and power-efficient performance while also providing optimal coverage. The ultimate goal is to make connectivity just like any other home utility, so the homeowner rarely needs to think about it. Switch it on, and it’s reliable, ubiquitous, and always on—everywhere and every time you need it.

This, along with the latest technologies from our partners, showcased the full potential of a well-connected home—connectivity that makes it possible to deliver a smart home that is perceptive, responsive, and autonomous to ease household management, enrich daily life, and provide peace of mind.

Speaking of peace of mind, the more devices that are connected, the greater amount of data that is vulnerable, so a reliable and secure gateway for the home network is essential. Here are some powerful new solutions that we featured at CES:

  • Comcast’s new advanced home wireless gateway, capable of delivering up to 9 GB per second over Wi-Fi in the home; supports voice, home monitoring, and automation applications; and will be the device that Comcast uses to make 1 GB-per-second Internet speeds possible. This first version of the new advanced gateway is based on the Intel Puma 7 SoC.
  • McAfee Secure Home Platform, which protects devices on home networks from hacks and attacks from the moment they connect. The platform also includes an easy-to-use mobile app to give consumers a flexible way to manage and secure their connected devices in the home, apply parental controls, and receive alerts in real time.
  • Intel also showcased how it is serving the growing demand for bandwidth on home access technologies. For copper access, Intel debuted a new member of the Intel AnyWAN transceiver family, a highly integrated G.Fast/VDSL/ADSL multimode device that allows operators to serve the latest technologies with gigabit rates over telephone wires—while keeping DSL backwards modes for smooth migration.

It’s through technology advancements and ongoing collaborations like these that make greater connectivity and security possible for the smart and connected home. Home networks are easier to set up, without an engineering degree. In other words, living spaces that are truly smart.

Were you able to attend CES? What smart and connected technologies did you see that you think will transform the way we live and interact with our homes?

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Is Line’s smart assistant Clova a real Alexa competitor?

line-clova-artificial-intelligence

Japanese messaging service Line announced on Thursday a personal assistant, called Clova, in the mold of Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri. The app will communicate to Asian users through hundreds of different screens, including an Echo-like speaker.

Line will bundle its messaging service, which integrates payment, ridesharing, and shopping, and Naver’s search platform into Clova. Users will be able to receive weather reports, news bulletins, and ask “complicated questions”, among other things.

See Also: Meet Viki, Nokia’s new hire for their AI personal assistant

clova-wave-ai-speaker

The app will be made available in the summer on mobile platforms and via an Echo-like speaker, called Wave. Line will make the speaker available in the summer. The speaker looks more like Google Home than the Amazon Echo, with a minimalist design and lights at the top to show the speaker is listening.

clova-face-speaker

Line will also launch a ‘Smart Display Face’ for homes in the winter. It seems to be similar to Wave, but instead of lights, the top of the speaker has a digital face. The company has not said how this would work and the advantages of owning the Face. Price for either speaker has not been disclosed.

Details on the scale of the program, the sophistication of the artificial intelligence, and who Line is working with are slim. We know Naver, Line’s South Korean parent, will be contributing heavily to the development. We have also heard that Line is in talks with Sony to build a ‘hearable’ that uses Clova.

Other than that, Line is keeping quiet. We’ll have to wait until the summer to find out if this can truly be a contender in the AI space, and if Western rivals like Amazon and Google are in trouble.

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ReadWrite

Laying the Foundation Today for Tomorrow’s 5G Smart and Connected Home

There is a lot of buzz this week about 5G and how it will improve the way we live, work and play. One of the first areas where we will see the significant impact of 5G is in fixed wireless access to the home. 5G smart and connected homes of the future will offer multi-gigabit broadband, broader in-home coverage and trusted connections that ultimately make it possible to deliver new personalized home experiences. At CES earlier this year, we discussed how a truly smart and connected home begins with a solid foundation. Transformation in the cloud, networks and devices is key when it comes to realizing the potential of 5G, and it is essential that we lay the foundation today as we pave the way toward a 5G smart and connected home. This includes dependable connectivity and secure management of all the devices, data and things that connect online inside a home.

 

Get Connected, Stay Secure

To transform the home from being merely connected to being truly smart, connectivity must become like any utility where it’s reliable, ubiquitous and always on. Home networks must also be secure enough to protect every device connected to it. So how do we get there? For home networking, Intel offers an optimal Wi-Fi solution that enables a smooth online experience even as consumers quickly increase the number of connected devices in their homes. The Intel Home Wi-Fi Chipset WAV500 Series is a unique offering in the industry, allowing up to 128 clients to share the same bandwidth simultaneously and still maintain aggregated Gigabit speeds.  Intel also recently announced McAfee Secure Home Platform that automatically protects internet-connected devices on a user’s home network from a variety of threats. With these leading technologies, our partners can deliver powerful home networking solutions with robust connectivity and enhanced security that consumers demand.

 

Powering Every Digital Experience in the Home

Quantum-T9 product imageHumax is collaborating with Intel to deliver home networking solutions that offer faster and more secure connections as more connected devices are brought into the home. Humax decided to use  Intel technology and McAfee Secure Home Platform for their QuantumT9 router so that they can deliver high-speed connections and make it easy for consumers to securely connect more devices in their homes. With the Intel Home Wi-Fi Chipset WAV500 Series, the Quantum T9 router will have dedicated and consistent processing performance that can handle the simultaneous demands from an increasing number of connected devices in the home, offering fast performance to download movies, play games and stream 4K content. The Quantum T9 router – available through select retailers starting in April 2017 – also utilizes MU-MIMO technology to efficiently allocate the Wi-Fi bandwidth among the various devices, as well as intelligent Quality of Service that classifies and automatically prioritizes different types of network traffic, enabling a more seamless experience in connected home today and in the future.

Looking ahead, the 5G smart and connected home of the future will enrich daily life, ease the tasks of running a home, and provide assurance to create peace of mind. Today’s progress in connectivity and security is paving the way toward this future.

For more on Intel smart and connected home developments, subscribe to our RSS feed for email notifications of blog updates, or visit intel.com/connectedhomeLinkedInFacebook and Twitter.

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Lessons Learned from a Smart Building Project

Experience is the best teacher, which is what we discovered as the lead for an Intel smart building project. Even though the lessons we learned may seem simple or obvious, they can be difficult to carry out or easily glossed over due to the hectic pace of a construction project. This was a Greenfield building; however, most of the following learnings also apply to Brownfield projects.

 

Background

We outfitted a 10-story, 630,000 sq. ft. office building in Bangalore, India with approximately 9,000 sensors used to track and optimize temperature, lighting, energy consumption, and occupancy in the building. The implementation was based on Internet of Things (IoT) solutions designed to collect, analyze, and secure data from building systems, and increase the capabilities of the building management system (BMS).

Our office building is forecasted to use 40 percent less energy due to the implementation of smart features, according to our project lead Srini Khandavilli, IoT/Smart Building Program Director, Intel India.

 

A picture of a building.

 

Business goals

Organizations just starting a smart building project have many considerations, so it’s critical to establish clear goals. Even better is to identify the key challenges upfront. These were the main goals of our project.

  • Reduce resource usage. Improve the control of energy and water-related systems by adding features that are typically lacking in a static BMS.
  • Improve operational efficiency. Move to a mobile cubicle model to accommodate more employees in the building.
  • Increase occupant comfort. Eliminate oscillating temperatures in the building so employees aren’t too hot or too cold during the day.

Metrics

At the beginning of the project, it’s important to clearly articulate what “success looks like” through measurable key performance indicators (KPIs). The metrics can help avoid mission creep by indicating when the project has met its business goals.

 

Use cases

When starting the project, we soon realized there‘s no single definition for a “smart” building, so we had to figure out which use cases to implement ourselves. We studied different ones and decided which best achieved our business goals:

  • Resource usage decreased when we added building analytics to control our energy sources: diesel generation, solar, fuel cells, and the grid. The solution also decreased our utility rates by enabling automated demand response.
  • Operational efficiency improved by installing occupant sensors in cubicles and tying them to a mobile cubicle booking application that helps employees find vacant cubicles, thereby increasing their utilization rates.
  • Employee comfort increased thanks to a machine learning algorithm that maintains a constant temperature in all building zones by taking more environmental factors into account.

 

Data points and API’s

We knew the reference architecture we were building would evolve and be the basis for multiple other implementations. We factored in data collection from a wide range of smart building touchpoints in order to maximize our ability to implement various building management applications, such as:

  • Energy monitoring and analytics
  • Smart grid demand response and demand-side management HVAC and lighting control
  • Remote asset monitoring
  • Operations and portfolio oversight

We also started insisting vendors expose their data over REST API’s. This enabled us to invoke and access these building subsystems from the cloud. The ideal state would be when all vendors embrace Open API’s, thereby enabling the extensibility of the underlying building subsystems.

 

IT partnership

It’s important to create a partnership with the IT department early in the project to ensure the smart building solutions are properly designed and interoperate with the company’s IT infrastructure.

 

Our results

The building analytics we added to reduce energy and water usage is forecasted to save $ 645,000 per year with a return on investment (ROI) payback period of less than four years. The mobile cubicle booking application increased the building’s employee capacity by approximately 30 percent. The machine learning algorithm that improves the building’s temperature control could improve worker satisfaction through increased thermal comfort by as much as 83 percent.1

 

Smart building opportunities

Today, the typical Intel office building uses a static BMS that may have limited capabilities to intelligently control energy and water-related systems. Making modifications can be very expensive due to the closed and proprietary nature of current BMS systems, which also is an impediment to incorporating the latest technologies and reaping the benefits of smart buildings.

At Intel, we’re moving to a BMS as a “Service” model that gives IT and facilities teams the flexibility to pick the vendors they deem best for specific functions. This approach also makes it easier to collect similar data from all buildings in the portfolio, enabling more intelligent decisions to be made at the portfolio level.

To learn more about the implementation of our smart building project, download the case study.

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Breaking Down Language Barriers in Smart Buildings

Have you ever wondered why the buildings that we live and work in aren’t smarter? I have. For example, why can’t the conference room I’m sitting in sense more people entering the room and dynamically increase the airflow through the vents? And why can’t the trash bins in the restroom be equipped with sensors that can automatically push a notification to the facilities team when they’re full, ensuring on-demand versus schedule-based maintenance?

Getting building systems to communicate with each other can take a lot of effort. One of the reasons connecting building systems together can be so difficult is many original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) use a homegrown data language within their system that has no meaning to the outside world. In other words, there’s a language barrier.

Let’s say we want to know the supply air temperature for an air handling unit (AHU), one vendor might term that BACnet point as “AHU1:Temperature” and another vendor might map the same BACNET point as “FLOOR1:AHU:Temperature”. Since there is no standardization at this layer, you would ultimately need a systems integrator to “map” these points together to create a consistent data model.

Also, temperature on its own lacks context, so we need additional data to decide whether anything needs to happen. Does the data reflect actual or target temperature? Which zone and floor within a building does it belong to? And are there occupants in that space?

 

The wheel of connectivity includes data, information, analytics, insight and action.

Standardizing system data

What’s needed is a standardized method for describing data, making it easier to analyze, visualize and derive value from our operational data. In fact, this is a main objective of Project Haystack, an open-source initiative created to streamline the integration of data from the Internet of Things (IoT).

Members of the initiative are standardizing semantic data models and web services with the goal of helping end users and solution providers unlock value from the vast quantity of data being generated by the smart devices found in our homes, buildings, factories and cities. This work currently targets applications in automation, control, energy, HVAC, lighting and other environmental systems.

I am thrilled to announce that Intel is joining Project Haystack as a Founder Member.  My colleague Rita Wouhaybi will be the technical liaison into Project Haystack, and I will serve as the business liaison and board member.

 

What Is Project Haystack?

Project Haystack is a community-driven standards body for defining semantic data models that ultimately bring meaning to smart device data. These efforts are also known as semantic tagging, metadata, or data modeling. The initiative is developing the following capabilities:

  • Metadata: A simple, extensible, and flexible tagging system to support a wide range of devices and setups.
  • Taxonomy: A library of tagging models to represent the data from a wide variety of equipment based on members’ proposals.
  • Communication protocol: A highly efficient REST API to simplify the exchange of Haystack tagged data among devices and across different applications.
  • Reference software implementations: Code implementations to ease integration into applications and products using various programming languages and platforms such as Java, C++, node.js, Dart, Niagara and Python.

 

Intel joins Project Haystack

Intel is participating in Project Haystack to help improve the data interoperability of building systems and accelerate end-user adoption of IoT-enabled smart building solutions. “As a developer and implementer of smart building technology, Intel’s involvement will raise the awareness of Project Haystack among a broader set of end users and solution providers, so they too can benefit from Project Haystack’s standardized data models,” said John Petze, executive director of Project Haystack.

“Project Haystack is the only standards body focused on defining standardized data models for building systems and objects; however, its data model framework is also applicable to industrial, manufacturing, retail, energy and other market segments that Intel serves. We will actively encourage other IoT standards bodies focusing on device interoperability to explore the extensibility of Project Haystack,” said Sunita Shenoy, director of smart building solutions at Intel.

 

Interoperability through standard data models

In partnership with other industry-wide organizations, Intel is working to establish IoT data standards and messaging protocols that allow vendors to provide integrated solutions. Likewise, Project Haystack is helping remove data model barriers that are inhibiting interoperability, thereby enabling more innovative, scalable and cost-effective solutions for smart buildings.

I believe that Intel’s membership in Project Haystack has the potential to accelerate end user adoption of IoT-enabled smart building solutions.

For more information about Intel’s solutions for smart buildings, visit intel.com/IoT/smartbuilding. To learn about the latest in Intel IoT developments, subscribe to our RSS feed for email notifications of blog updates, or visit intel.com/IoTLinkedInFacebook and Twitter.

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