Home automation began with labour-saving machines. Self-contained electric or gas powered home appliances became viable in the 1900s with the introduction of electric power distribution and led to the introduction of washing machines (1904), water heaters (1889), refrigerators, sewing machines, dishwashers, and clothes dryers.
In 1975, the first general purpose home automation network technology was developed. It is a communication protocol for electronic devices. It primarily uses electric power transmission wiring for signalling and control, where the signals involve brief radio frequency bursts of digital data, and remains the most widely available.
By 2012, in the United States, according to ABI Research, 1.5 million home automation systems were installed. As per research firm Statista more than 45 million smart home devices will be installed in U.S. homes by the end of the year 2018.
There are three generations of home automation:
First generation: wireless technology with proxy server, e.g. ZigBee automation;
Second generation: artificial intelligence controls electrical devices, e.g. Amazon Echo;
Third generation: robot buddy who interacts with humans, e.g. Robot Rovio, Roomba.
The word "domotics" (and "domotica" when used as a verb) is a contraction of the Latin word for a home (domus) and the word robotics.
Zigbee is a low-cost, low-power, wireless mesh network standard targeted at battery-powered devices in wireless control and monitoring applications. Zigbee delivers low-latency communication. Zigbee chips are typically integrated with radios and with microcontrollers. Zigbee operates in the industrial, scientific and medical (ISM) radio bands: 2.4 GHz in most jurisdictions worldwide; though some devices also use 784 MHz in China, 868 MHz in Europe and 915 MHz in the USA and Australia, however even those regions and countries still use 2.4 GHz for most commercial Zigbee devices for home use. Data rates vary from 20 kb/s (868 MHz band) to 250 kb/s (2.4 GHz band).
Zigbee builds on the physical layer and media access control defined in IEEE standard 802.15.4 for low-rate wireless personal area networks (WPANs). The specification includes four additional key components: network layer, application layer, Zigbee Device Objects (ZDOs) and manufacturer-defined application objects. ZDOs are responsible for some tasks, including keeping track of device roles, managing requests to join a network, as well as device discovery and security.
The Zigbee network layer natively supports both star and tree networks, and generic mesh networking. Every network must have one coordinator device. Within star networks, the coordinator must be the central node. Both trees and meshes allow the use of Zigbee routers to extend communication at the network level. Another defining feature of Zigbee is facilities for carrying out secure communications, protecting establishment and transport of cryptographic keys, ciphering frames, and controlling device. It builds on the basic security framework defined in IEEE 802.15.4.
Smart homes finally become a reality with applications that allow home owners to monitor and control a wide range of useful applications, such as improved energy efficiency, access control, security, home monitoring, lighting and home care. Sigmawit enables the radio technology in many of the latest smart home and IoT solutions.
Bluetooth vs Wi-Fi (IEEE 802.11)
Bluetooth and Wi-Fi (Wi-Fi is the brand name for products using IEEE 802.11 standards) have some similar applications: setting up networks, printing, or transferring files. Wi-Fi is intended as a replacement for high-speed cabling for general local area network access in work areas or home. This category of applications is sometimes called wireless local area networks (WLAN). Bluetooth was intended for portable equipment and its applications. The category of applications is outlined as the wireless personal area network (WPAN). Bluetooth is a replacement for cabling in a variety of personally carried applications in any setting, and also works for fixed location applications such as smart energy functionality in the home (thermostats, etc.).
Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are to some extent complementary in their applications and usage. Wi-Fi is usually access point-centered, with an asymmetrical client-server connection with all traffic routed through the access point, while Bluetooth is usually symmetrical, between two Bluetooth devices. Bluetooth serves well in simple applications where two devices need to connect with a minimal configuration like a button press, as in headsets and remote controls, while Wi-Fi suits better in applications where some degree of client configuration is possible and high speeds are required, especially for network access through an access node. However, Bluetooth access points do exist, and ad-hoc connections are possible with Wi-Fi though not as simple as with Bluetooth. Wi-Fi Direct was recently developed to add a more Bluetooth-like ad-hoc functionality to Wi-Fi.
The Bluetooth SIG presented Bluetooth 5 on 16 June 2016. Its new features are mainly focused on new Internet of Things technology. The Samsung Galaxy S8 launched with Bluetooth 5 support in April 2017. In September 2017, the iPhone 8, 8 Plus and iPhone X launched with Bluetooth 5 support as well. Apple also integrated Bluetooth 5 in their new HomePod offering released on February 9, 2018. Marketing drops the point number; so that it is just "Bluetooth 5" (unlike Bluetooth 4.0). The change is for the sake of "Simplifying our marketing, communicating user benefits more effectively and making it easier to signal significant technology updates to the market."
Bluetooth 5 provides, for BLE, options that can double the speed (2 Mbit/s burst) at the expense of range, or up to fourfold the range at the expense of data rate. The increase in transmissions could be important for Internet of Things devices, where many nodes connect throughout a whole house. Bluetooth 5 adds functionality for connectionless services such as location-relevant navigation of low-energy Bluetooth connections.
The major areas of improvement are:
Slot Availability Mask (SAM)
2 Mbit/s PHY for LE
LE Long Range
High Duty Cycle Non-Connectable Advertising
LE Advertising Extensions
LE Channel Selection Algorithm #2
Features Added in CSA5 – Integrated in v5.0:
Higher Output Power
The following features were removed in this version of the specification: