Building Automation: from the Jetsons to the present day
It was back in 1962 when Hanna-Barbera Productions Inc. through the famous cartoon “The Jetsons“, set in the second half of the present century, made us dream of hyper-technological houses. That is flat screen televisions, tablets, smartphones and smartwatches with super touch controls to communicate not only with people, but also with household appliances, personal robots in every home and kitchens that prepared food.
We can’t yet say that we are at the same level as that imaginary 2062, but we might not be that far off! Of course, a robot like the legendary Rosie is not for everyone. However, for decades we have been using all kinds of devices to perform many household tasks. Today we are able to remote control our appliances, to communicate with them at any time and from anywhere in the world.
Almost 60 years later, we can therefore say that the futuristic idea proposed by Hanna-Barbera has not only been translated into the present day, but has also been partly achieved. Technology is undoubtedly changing the relationship we have with our homes and buildings in general. On the one hand, people are constantly looking for smart products and functionalities to solve real problems for people. On the other hand, technological steps forward, combined with the digital revolution that dominated the 2000s, have changed our routines for the better.
We are now fully immersed in this new reality of multimedia systems for the remote control of electrical and heating systems, building supervision, control of household appliances and much more.
We are talking about Building Automation, an idea that was utopian only a few decades ago, an illusion that could only be materialised in science fiction films.
What is Building Automation?
Building Automation is a centralised system that aims to simultaneously manage several systems, such as heating, lighting, security and ventilation, among others. This is achieved through the use of BMS (Building Management System). It offers a high degree of comfort and efficiency in homes, offices, hotels and hospitals. It also allows us to autonomously and automatically control an entire building.
Home automation describes a system of networking devices that operate together to make buildings more comfortable, personalised, efficient and secure. Thanks to these technologies, users can ‘talk’ to automated buildings through a voice remote control or smart device. Some commands allow a device to be turned on or off at a specific time, while other devices can be activated by certain external events.
Automated devices include thermostats and other heating and cooling devices, alarm systems, lights, blinds and curtains, and even sound systems. A truly automated building could have all of the above mentioned (and more). Today these devices are available to everyone. In the past, automation was something that only commercial buildings and high-end homes could really take advantage of. However, advances in technology and increased demand have made it possible to extend home automation and make it accessible to everyone.
What could we automate?
There are things we do every single day that we wish someone else would do. We are now in an age where machine learning capabilities are advanced enough that we no longer have to spend time doing things that can be safely delegated to ‘others’. Today, thanks to innovations in artificial intelligence and self-learning devices, we can devote our time to what we really like to do, to our family, to a good read, while the house takes care of itself in total safety and autonomy.
From the comfort of our smartphone or tablet, we can control all the rooms in our home and change the settings as we please and according to every condition: check the status of kitchen appliances, open and close doors, watch pets (or our children!), turn lights on and off, set the light intensity of each room, adjust heating and cooling systems, water the garden, etc. Moreover, we can also install smart security systems, which are able to detect fire hazards, gas leaks, flooding and burglary, as well as triggering alarms, communicate in real time with security or first aid.
Therefore, to the question “what can we automate?” we simply answer “anything you want!”. To have a home automation system, you can start with just a few basic products and then expand it as needed. Home automation responds to the specific needs of each user, making buildings work better. And suddenly we find ourselves transported into the animated world of George Jetson and his family!
Building Automation and energy saving
Apart from the different functions described above, which make life easier and safer, we must not overlook the significant energy savings that can be achieved with home automation systems. Let’s find out here how to achieve greater energy savings with Building Automation.