5 ‘made in Asia’ smart living projects that will get you pumped – e27
In the famous words of the Borg – a malevolent entity on TV show Star Trek – before it attempted to assimilate the Enterprise crew into its collective: “Resistance is futile”. According to the show’s lore, the Borg were essentially beings that were interconnected through a main central system.
Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
Probably. Because it sounds a lot like the Internet-of-Things or IoT for short, a phrase we keep throwing around a lot these days.
There is no doubt about it. The 21st century has seen the rapid growth of the Internet and subsequently, it’s merging with physical objects; changing the way we live – and we call this smart living.
Some question its increasing intrusion in our daily lives, spouting dytospian-esque prophecies that ironically plaster the virtual walls of YouTube. However, the growing adoption of smart living doesn’t necessarily have to spell doom…if done the right way.
Good implementation of technology has the potential to make life better. Beyond mobile games, e-commerce and social networks; a certain breed of technologists is creating the next wave of technology that just makes life smarter, safer and more joyful.
We, at e27, have compiled five of our favourite upcoming smart living projects in Asia that embody what a smarter life should entail.
Samsung’s smart living residences
Many of us envy the futuristic home of Iron Man and live vicariously through the superhero’s swanky lifestyle. Samsung is hoping to re-create some of that experience for the common folk.
No, it’s not promising you Pepper Potts. However, by partnering with Ascott, a property developer, Samsung wants to implement advanced technology in Ascott’s service apartments. Its aim: to offer ‘a seamless smart living experience’ to its residents.
By using their mobile devices such as smartphones, guests will be able to control multiple devices within their apartment, even if they are overseas.
For example, Samsung claims that guests will be able to turn on lights, and make a full pot of coffee according to a specified schedule. Guests will also be able to keep watch on their apartments on their smartphones through cameras embedded into the apartment’s air-con or robot cleaners.
In addition, housekeeping staff will be notified when it is time to service the appliances, do the laundry or replace the consumables.
This is not the only residential project Samsung is working on either. Recently, Samsung announced that it is introducing smart home systems into the UK.
These sensors include motion sensors, which are programmed to notify the resident when a presence is detected in certain area – and multi-sensors – which are used to alert the resident when something such as a door, or oven is opened or closed.
Similar to the Ascott residence project, residents will be able to control these devices via their smartphone.
In addition to residential projects, Samsung is also looking into enabling car owners to communicate with their vehicle via a smart watch. It is currently working with BMW to implement IoT capabilities in BMW cars. This will allow users with the Gear S Watch to automatically ‘call out’ their car from the garage.
Definitely very reminiscent of a James Bond film.
This is all part of Samsung’s grand plan in accelerating its assimilation into the IoT space. By 2020, it expects all of its hardware, even ovens and dishwashers, to be IoT-ready.
Speaking of implementing IoT in cars…
SMART’s driverless cars
The Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART) has recently launched its first driverless car: SCOT (Shared Computer Operated Transport).
It utilises LIDAR sensors, which cost less to produce than the 3D lasers typically used in other driverless cars. Another advantage, is that it is independent of GPS signals, allowing it to be driven in tunnels that would otherwise obstruct these GPS signals.
This car is part of an initiative between SMART and NUS to find a solution to Singapore’s ageing society, as well as promote the idea of car sharing in Singapore.
Through its research, SMART has concluded that driverless cars have several advantages over the traditional cars.
It is able to react quicker, requires a shorter braking time, has a wider field of view, is not affected by driver fatigue, will not drive in an aggressive manner, and last but not least, is able to correct bad driving habits quickly (i.e. it can be your designated driver when you are drunk).
Users can also programme their route in advance, allowing for a much smoother ride. In addition, people – such as the elderly and the disabled – who are not able to drive, now have the option of operating a car without a human driver.
Japan’s Zero Energy houses
The Japanese government has an ambitious plan for 2020 – which is for all newly built houses to be completely energy-efficient.
This energy policy came in the wake of 2011’s Fukushima nuclear disaster. Now Japan wants to reduce its over-reliance on electricity by building energy-efficient homes.
The Zero Energy House (ZEH) is one such initiative. One way it reduces energy is through its photovaltic cells on the roof, which converts solar energy into electricity.
In addition to other energy-efficient building materials such as low e-glass, which improves insulation by reducing the energy that is radiated when heat enters, ZEH is also leveraging on IoT, similar to Samsung.
In 2013, Japan built its first Zero Energy neighbourhood through the Daiwa House Group.
The company’s Home Energy Management System (HEMS) allows residents to control their air-conditioning and energy use through an iPad app. The HEMS also enables users to monitor and visualise their energy consumption and savings. Daiwa House claims that these technologies will help reduce carbon emissions by 70 per cent compared to the average Japanese household.
IDA’s drone programmes
Drones have many purposes. They can be used as weapons of warfare, provide surveillance or even deliver packages.
Singapore’s IDA is leveraging on their ability to capture detailed aerial views, to keep track of its land management and maintenance.
By connecting to its soon-to-be rolled out Heterogeneous Network (HetNet) which will enable island-wide, high-bandwidth connectivity for devices, drones will be able to deliver high-quality data of the area they are surveying to the command centre, in real-time.
Drones will also be able to take exterior views of skyscrapers for safety inspection purposes as well as capture footage during emergency situations that can be analysed and used by first-responders.
Would the drones put the public in harm’s way, though?
The Singapore Land Authority (SLA) has taken note of that and is working on creating accurate 3D representations of every tree, terrain contour and building in Singapore.
The drones will also be upgraded with the ability to detect obstacles and avoid them. Combining this with SLA’s 3D database, they will be able to safely navigate through Singapore without endangering the public
Keep Singapore’s streets safe with IoT
To be able to live ‘smart, you first have to be, well, alive.
At an Interpol meeting in Singapore this year, technology vendors came together to showcase how their products could enhance the agency’s crime detection and prevention capabilities.
Thales Solution Asia’s product, ‘SE Star‘, uses biometric simulation to mimic individuals. This helps authorities to simulate real-time events with thousands of people in a realistic environment such as sports events or riots, allowing them to come up with better crowd-control plans.
Motorola Solutions’ smart belt and glasses allow the police to automatically capture a photo or video of his/her surroundings when the gun or taser is pulled out of the holster. The image or footage is then transmitted to the command centre in real-time, allowing for better response strategies at the higher levels.
For example, the commanders will be able to have a more accurate depiction of the scenario and decide if reinforcements are needed.
Other security agencies and public safety will also be able to leverage off this data and collaborate on their action plans.
Disclosure: This article has been written in collaboration with Singtel. It will be holding the Singtel Accelerator Challenger on October 9, 2015. Smart Living Startups are welcome to apply until September 28, 2015. For more details, click here.