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The Smart Home Revolution

Telematics will revolutionise our habits and homes

Experts forecast that fully autonomous self-driving cars will begin to appear as early as five years from now and probably dominate the automotive market within fifteen years. While not much may change at a glance – meaning that our cars will continue to look just like traditional cars, at least at the beginning of this new adventure – inside, they will be completely transformed from pre-eminently mechanical machines into sophisticated artificial intelligence systems, capable of machine learning and real-time analysis of the input arriving from dozens of sensors: temperature, humidity, proximity, cameras, radar, infrared, etc.

And what will happen to our houses as the entire urban scenario around us changes to accommodate this telematics revolution? Our homes will change, too, radically, especially on the inside, perhaps less on the outside, just like our vehicles and our cities.

Home Telematics Insurance

The integration of telematics systems into our houses will allow us to optimise energy consumption and actively monitor our houses for fires, flooding, gas leaks and burglary, immediately alerting emergency services, if necessary. Naturally, this means that home owners will be able to enjoy the same opportunities that telematics has brought to the automotive insurance industry.

Indeed, according to a market report published by Transparency Market Research the global value of the home automation market will reach US$ 21.67 billion by 2020. And the acquisition of smart devices will grow exponentially as more and more systems connect to the Internet of Things.

Internet of Things

Telematics will connect homes and integrate them into the greater network that allows smart city infrastructure and autonomous vehicles to communicate and share information: the Internet of Things.

The introduction of telematics, domotics and ultra-broadband connectivity to our homes means that our houses will be able to automatically adjust to our preferences and welcome us in the evening to a cosy warmed environment with a dinner ready in the oven, or warming, and maybe even a steaming bath. And it will all happen automatically, based on our preferences, as our car signals the imminent arrival of the homeowner or guest via a shared geo-location system.

And just like our cars, our homes will also learn to automatically adjust to our preferences and habits. And, by the way, both our houses and vehicles will monitor our health conditions and share this information – if requested – with our physician and/or hospital, just as both will be equipped with cameras and e-alert systems for health emergencies.

Smart Devices

Moreover, just as our vehicles will soon be waiting for us in the morning, warmed and ready to go with our favourite music or news programme playing, our houses will also evolve into a complex hive of smart, interconnected, and sooner-than-later even sentient devices: fridges that order our favourite foods from on-line retailers as soon as supplies run low and employ smart tags to alert us to expiry dates, home security systems that automatically go on standby as we approach the front door, the proverbial dinner ready in the oven, and much, much more.

Domotics, the term used to refer to smart home networks and systems, will inevitably replace a myriad task – from shopping to cleaning through maintenance – as our homes grow fully autonomous and provide us with more free time to rest and socialise.

Social Web of Things

Beyond feeding on the information provided by ubiquitous sensors, our homes, again just like our vehicles, will also be fully connected to social networks and to the future Social Web of Things.

Crowdsensing will provide us with constant updates on family and friends – or, at least, those who have decided to share the information collected by their homes, vehicles, smartphones and wearables – alerting us to the location of partners, children and friends, while pattern recognition algorithms will continue to recommend the restaurants, clubs and venues best suited to our wishes.


Big data and machine learning will also continue to drive the sophistication of artificial intelligence systems, the collection of personal data and preferences will provide us with custom-tailored habitats, and eventually this will transform not just our houses and vehicles, but our very world.

In time, the Internet of Things will turn into the Internet of Everything (IoE), a universal network that will literally connect everything from our toothbrushes to our work agenda. The IoE will progress far beyond machine-to-machine communication to include human beings directly into a unified network, a futuristic world of machine-to-person interaction and, one day, cyborgs and cybernetic organisms, too.

Quality of Life

Rest assured, however, that the future is not on course to become a dystopian, technological, brave new world. Scientific progress is also progressing by leaps and bounds to ensure environmental sustainability and improve individual quality of life and our health.

Modern materials will be wed with natural wood to produce soothing environments that dissipate as little energy as possible, while silicon-based roof tiles will collect and store solar energy to power all our devices. Plants will be used to filter the air and ensure optimal humidity levels, while lighting will automatically adjust to suit our biological needs.

In fact, the house of the future echoes Le Courbousier’s machine-à-habiter concept, but one that is far more comfortable, soothing and energetically self-sufficient, and has a lesser impact on the environment than anything we have ever experienced before.

The Connected Home

Smart home telematics systems substantially reduce insurance costs

Ten years ago, the introduction of smartphones transformed us – practically overnight – into a connected society, drawing the Internet out of our homes and offices and into our pockets. Now, the Internet of Things (IoT) is ready to return home.

According to a recent survey by Gartner on Early Adopters of Internet of Things Poised to Make 2016 the Year of the Customer, “the number of businesses planning to adopt some sort of IoT strategy is set to grow by 50 per cent this year, a figure which would bring the overall total of businesses with some sort of IoT deployment to 43 per cent.”

ZDNet estimates that by the end of this year, there will be 6.4 billion devices connected to the Internet of Things, which means five million new devices being added every day. And this number could reach 20 billion (or even twice that) by 2020.

We are on the verge of the smart home revolution. Our homes will be connected to the Internet of Things and a vast range of remote and/or automatically controlled applications will help us organise and streamline our lives. This revolution addresses an extremely wide range of services ranging from automatically opening garage doors to enhanced automated climate control systems, from lighting and entertainment devices to advanced security systems such as smart door locks that monitor who enters the house, how long they stay and when they leave. Interestingly, this poses a series of new questions related to home insurance.

Home alarm and security systems not only allow insurers to provide home insurance discounts, but have also begun introducing smart home automation systems, which are set to become the fulcrum of telematics-based insurance policies. Indeed, telematics already provides various models for underwriting and pricing insurance policies based on remote data collection, such as the increasingly popular “pay as you drive” usage-based insurance solution provided by car and motorcycle insurance companies.

Octo Telematics, a pioneer and market leader in the automotive telematics insurance sector, has developed a smart home solution called Octo HomeBox, a self-installing device that will protect your home from fire, floods, electricity hazards and theft, 24 hours a day, all year around.

Based on Octo’s long-standing experience in the telematics insurance sector, the HomeBox immediately alerts both a central surveillance station and the homeowner as soon as a problem is detected. HomeBox can also be installed together with a surveillance video camera system.

The device not only allows users to communicate directly with the central surveillance station, but the system can also be managed remotely via an app that allows both real-time monitoring and management of the system.

Octo currently provides this smart home system to a number of insurance companies, including Groupama, Poste, Aviva and others.

Home Telematics will come of age rapidly and swiftly. Indeed, as a Deloitte survey entitled “Overcoming Speed Bumps on the Road to Telematics” revealed that while interviewees were initially not interested in being monitored whilst driving – under any circumstance – more than 50% suddenly changed their minds and were willing to forgo their coveted privacy in exchange for a discount on their insurance premiums. Chances are this very same trend will apply to telematics home insurance policies.

Just as a black box devices monitor driving behaviour and reward virtuous drivers, a home monitoring system reduces insurance costs for homeowners who regularly lock their doors and close their windows, keep their fire, gas and flooding detection systems regularly serviced and always on, do not leave appliances running when they are out of the house and regularly implement recommended maintenance on home utility systems and appliances. Telematics allows insurers to monitor a variety of home safety and security factors without having to infringe on household privacy. In fact, such a system would basically amount to an “all systems running correctly” alert system.

And, again, just as with drivers, it’s very often the homeowners who cause damage and accidents by leaving appliances on when they leave their house or by not having them regularly serviced. After all, what’s the use of a smoke alarm with a dead battery or a house with an alarm system that is not activated?

Moreover, homes just like cars can collect data and transmit it back to a central data analysis hub, providing invaluable information on, for example, specific local weather conditions or tracking the movement of storm fronts and fires, thereby fully functioning as a connected safety and alert hub in the greater Internet of Things.

Transparency Market Research has predicted that the smart home applications industry, which was worth US$3.6 billion in 2013, will grow to U$16.4 billion by 2019. Moreover, Gartner predicts that in addition to the 43 per cent of companies currently deploying IoT applications and services, 2016 will witness a 14 per cent growth in this area, while a further 21 per cent is setting out an IoT roadmap for the near future.

The security and safety systems market is currently slated to grow markedly, and the union between smart home applications and services and insurance telematics will make sure that our dinner is cooked and ready, the temperature is perfect and, of course, that everything is safe … and cheaper to insure!

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