[IEEE Xplore] Readings on Smart Cities -- [Editorial] Vol. 1, Issue 8, September 2015

Home, smart home!

By Rosaldo J. F. Rossetti

Domotics (from Latin domus and informatics/telematics applied to home automation) gained momentum in the 90s; however, home automation has been sought since the late 19th century, with electricity used to supply lighting within the house, for instance, and all the evolution of domestic appliances witnessed throughout the 20th century. Today, home automation is gaining a completely revamped dimension, with IoT (Internet of Things) underlying a vast communication infrastructure and allowing a wide range of different remote interactions between dwellers and service providers. We dedicate this issue of our Readings on Smart Cities to explore the notion of Smart Houses, and how concepts such as Ambient Intelligence, mobile, pervasive, ubiquitous and cloud computing are applied to leverage improved assisted living. Rather than comfort and quality of life, in general, home automation has been widely investigated so as to provide especially the elderly persons with independence and continuous appropriate care at home. The three selected articles in this issue give interesting perspectives for the practical implementation of Smart Houses and their role in fostering assisted living in the context of Smart Cities.

We start with an article by Rajabzadeh, Manashty, and Jahromi [1], who address issues in designing appropriate remote interactions to control and manage smart houses. Authors discuss on the lack of appropriate design processes and standards that can effectively contribute to modular and extensible system architectures. Their proposed generic model for smart house remote control systems combines the design phase with test beds to evaluate the system through software and hardware simulators. This way, scenarios can be defined both in the systems and simulators to test long-term effects of different automation schemes. Thus a variety of analyses can be performed before the actual system is built, considerably reducing design costs. Helal and colleagues [2] go beyond remote control and management, exploring opportunities to implement assistive environments and presenting their experience with the Gator Tech Smart House (GTSH) project. Authors focus especially on issues associated with the implementation of cost-effective, high-impact technologies for aging, disabilities and independent living. From the lessons learned in the GTSH project, authors analyse the impediments hindering the emergence of products and services for assistive environments, and present the blueprints of an ecosystem based on requirements drawn from their experience. Through an extensive survey in the same direction, Stefanov, Bien, and Bang [3] analyse the building blocks of smart houses, with particular emphasis on the health monitoring subsystem as an important component. In their perspective, modern home-installed systems tend to be not only physically versatile in functionality but also emotionally human-friendly. Authors then address the basic requirements of various sensors implemented from both research and clinical perspectives, and discuss on some important issues of the future development of an intelligent residential space with a human-friendly health monitoring functional system.

Although initially thought to provide people with comfort, entertainment, and quality of life, the concept of Smart Houses currently builds upon strong social and economic motivations. Challenges are countless, especially if we consider that domotics was originally associated with luxury and very expensive houses, raising then societal issues such as equity. Notwithstanding, Smart Houses became an essential component of Smart Cities, and play an imperative role to citizens’ integration.

Good readings!


IEEE Xplore References

  1. A. Rajabzadeh, A. R. Manashty and Z. F. Jahromi, "A generic model for smart house remote control systems with software and hardware simulators," Information and Knowledge Technology (IKT), 2013 5th Conference on, Shiraz, 2013, pp. 262-267.
  2. S. Helal, C. Chen, E. Kim, R. Bose and C. Lee, "Toward an Ecosystem for Developing and Programming Assistive Environments," in Proceedings of the IEEE, vol. 100, no. 8, pp. 2489-2504, Aug. 2012.
  3. D. H. Stefanov, Zeungnam Bien and Won-Chul Bang, "The smart house for older persons and persons with physical disabilities: structure, technology arrangements, and perspectives," in IEEE Transactions on Neural Systems and Rehabilitation Engineering, vol. 12, no. 2, pp. 228-250, June 2004.


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