Five questions for Bert de Haes

A home that takes care of you

Heijmans’ new concept homes come standard with a home control system, with which residents can control the level of comfort themselves. Bert de Haes of One Smart Control explains how this technology enables you to live at home for a longer period of time.

May 18, 2018

How do you make a house smart?

“It is very simple. You build a communication system via the existing power grid. We install sensors behind every light switch. And we fit a small cabinet in the meter box which makes all sensors communicate with one and other. In one day, your home becomes ‘smart’.

For instance, you can remotely control the lights and gain insight into your energy use via your smartphone or tablet. In order to grow old comfortably in your own home, it is useful if you can change things. After all, it is impossible to predict which needs will arise in the near future. Therefore, a resident can, at any time, add a component or move one to another place in the house.

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Bert de Haes of One Smart Control looks ahead at the future of home control systems.

Especially young home buyers consider the home control system to be a handy gadget. And, of course, it is very handy that when you are at the office, you can turn the heating on at home via your smartphone or tablet. Or that you can dim the lights from your comfy couch.

To seniors these systems are more of a necessity. Also, to facilitate communication with family or caretakers. Because the house will get to know the resident’s living pattern and will be able to use data to make its own decisions.”

Your house controls itself?

“Yes, it does partly. After a while, your house will know exactly when you cook, turn on the heating, switch on the lamps or watch tv. Imagine, a resident falls and cannot get up by himself anymore. The sensors detect an irregularity in the fixed pattern and subsequently send a notification to the family, neighbours or caretakers that something is off. By the way, users will have to give their permission for this. So, home control does not only increase the level of comfort, it also enables people to live at home for a longer period of time. “

Exciting! But what about privacy?

“99 percent of the data does not need to leave the house. Your house will recognize the pattern and make most decisions itself. Only the notification that a certain pattern has been interrupted, is sent out. You need the internet for this.

A gateway decodes your home data into another – encrypted – file format and then sends the notification to the caretaker or the smartphone of a family member. Obviously, this notification meets the highest security demands and the new regulation regarding the privacy law that is coming into effect at the end of May.”

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Can you give any practical examples?

“Technically, we can make everything smarter. Each Heijmans owner-occupied home carrying the OnbezorgdWonen label is equipped with a video communication system, with which you can, for example, open the door. This system can also be operated with a smartphone. For instance, a resident is experiencing difficulties walking due to a disease or ageing and wishes to open the door remotely but, finds a smartphone too complicated. In that case, we can easily make a standard light switch function as a door switch.

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Smart door bells automatically open the front door by using facial recognition.

Imagine, you forget to turn off the lights: the devices will then act on that. Because according to the normal pattern, the lights should be out. The system knows what time it is, if it is dark outside and is not registering any motion. Once this has been established, the lighting will switch off by itself. Another example: the sensors are registering that the indoor temperature is rising faster than usual. As the system knows it is Summer and knows what time it is, it will, at a moment like this, decide to lower the blinds itself.

How smart are our homes in 10 years’ time?

“Switches will become smarter; and will come standard with sensor technology. And control via your smartphone will shift to voice control. But, for now, people will also want to use switches like they always do: to carry out an act locally.

An electronic lock with facial recognition is another good example. Imagine, you are carrying two heavy grocery bags in each hand. While you are coming up to your house, the camera next to or above the door will recognize your face, after which the door automatically opens.

In the nearby future, more often, we will use our voice to control things at home. This development is not progressing as fast in Europe as it is in the United States, as we have to deal with different languages over here. It will definitely take five to ten years, for this technology to become commonplace.