This thesis presents the design of an original Intelligent Home Automation Architecture. My work was divided in two phases. The first portion was dedicated to acquiring a thorough understanding of the most successful and diffused Home-Automation commercial architectures.
During this phase, I intended to gain a deep appreciation for the variety of organizations, capabilities, limitations, and potential areas of growth of the existing Home-Automation leading systems.
In order to acquire this knowledge, I had to use a reverse engineering approach. The reason for using this methodology arises from the fact that all the products considered in this study are commercially protected as industrial secrets.
Consequently, it is not possible to obtain detailed descriptions of their ‘real’ architectures and internal operations. The second part of this thesis presents my personal contribution in the form of a prototype for a Smart-Home Architecture.
My design, called IVA (short for Intelligent Voice Activated) home automation, is primarily driven by the processing of natural language voice commands. I argue that this approach should be attractive to seniors, and people with limited range of mobility.
In addition, the hardware needed to implement the system is commonly available and inexpensive. The most sophisticated device in my model is a smartphone, which in most cases, is already own by the prospective user.
Present and Future of Home Automation:
The basic automation systems have become a large part of people’s lives today. Systems such as motion sensing, intelligent thermostat control, adaptable luminescence, RFID, biometrics, IR technology, RF technology,and CCTV security have become very common. Advanced automation technology such as user recognition using facial features, voice controlled commands, assisting in planning, and advising in daily life chores is already implemented.
The most commonly used standards and protocols are discussed in this section. Although, most of the companies implement their own version of standards, it is difficult to analyze each and every product’s unique platform. Thus, we would look into the comparisons of open source and general defined standards.
Popular Platforms for Home Automation:
To implement home automation, there need to be three essential things:
- The device gets user input to control all the actions, such as remote control or voice
recognition based hardware
- A reliable medium to transmit messages/commands
- End devices to perform actions such as turning on/off, brewing coffee, changing heater/AC controls, and etcetera.
Study of Apple HomeKit:
In June of 2014 at their World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC), Apple announced iOS 8 and highlighted some of the upcoming features. Among those features were two new “Kit” platforms, HealthKit and HomeKit, which are designed to integrate iOS with two rising digital-age trends: quantified self-healthcare, and smart homes. HealthKit is to your body and fitness gear, HomeKit is to your home and electronics.
IVA SMART HOME
Introduction to IVA:
Intelligent Voice Activated Home automation, or IVA for short, is my own independently designed smart home automation architecture. IVA is designed to understand the user’s natural language voice commands along with support for touch controls from an Android device.
IVA software can be installed on the Android device as an app. The Android device should have basic Wi-Fi capability in order to connect with the hardware. Additionally, an already setup Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN) is needed to make IVA communicate with the specially designed hardware to control end devices.
Limitations of Wi-Fi Over ZigBee and X10:
The most observable limitation of Wi-Fi over ZigBee and X10 is that the Wi-Fi has much shorter range than ZigBee or X10. Although, a router is sufficient enough for most of the common home sizes in United States, we can easily improve the range of the Wi-Fi network by using an ‘Access Point’ or a Repeater to increase the range of the network.
Arduino is one of the most widely used prototyping microcontroller platform. It is built and tested on robust Atmega controller series from Atmel Corporation. Arduino hardware platform already has the power, reset circuitry setup, as well as, circuitry to program and communicate with the microcontroller over USB. In addition, the I/O pins of the microcontroller are typically already fed out to sockets or headers for easy access (This may varya bit with the specific model).
IVA Control Box:
IVA has a microcontroller to interpret the commands, and perform tasks as per the commands received from the IVA app. As discussed in previous chapter, IVA is using Arduino Mega 2560 board as its main controller. We will call this assembly of devices with an Arduino Mega2560 as ‘Control Box’.
Wi-Fi Connection and Setup:
The HLK-Rm04 Wi-Fi module’s pins20 and 21 are connected to Arduino Mega’s pins 18 and 19 for transmitting (TX) and receiving (RX) respectively. The TX pin of Wi-Fi module is connected to RX pin of the Arduino, so that the transmitting line is connected to receiving line of opposite circuit and vice-versa.
IVA’S SOFTWARE AND INTELLIGENCE
IVA has a very generic user-interface designed in XML. There are two toggle buttons to turn on/off devices, mainly a lamp or a coffee machine. There is another button that activates the voice listening capability of IVA through the Android device’s microphone.This button is placed at the bottom of the screen.There is a slider control, or track bar control in C#. Android calls it as ‘seekbar’. The Android seek bar controls the voltage regulation of the regulator connected to Control Box.
The aim of this thesis was to study, assume, estimate and reverse engineer existing systems in order to design and develop our own home automation system. This goal was successful as IVA’s design was heavily influenced by the studied home automation architectures.
The network architecture resembles close to that of Belkin’s Wemo switch, whereas the voice commands and natural language processing is influenced by the Amazon’s Echo design. A device in a room idea was inculcated in IVA’s architecture by understanding how Nest thermostat works.
Thus, the working prototype architecture of Intelligent Voice Activated Home Automation (IVA) was developed and tested based on combination of number of home automation systems designed and developed by few of the top innovating software and hardware companies like Google, Amazon, Apple, and Belkin.
The future scope for IVA can be huge. There are few ideas that we are discussing to make IVA more powerful, intelligent, scalable, and to become better overall for home automation.
Source: Cleveland State University
Author: Mrunal Dipakkumar Bhatt