In this Makook Home Special, we are treated to an interview with Mr. Nasri Tehini, CEO of Makook Smart Living.
Authored by John Larson
* What would you define as a fully automated home?
This definition will vary depending on the size of the home and the needs of its occupants. If you are a single person in a one bedroom apartment, your automation needs could be fairly simple and the keys could be integration of entertainment, monitoring, a few automated functions, notification and multi-screen access and control from anywhere. If you have a large family in a six bedroom home with an external Majlis and constant family and friends visiting and staying in your guest rooms, then your automation needs are going to be far more complex. In either case and everywhere in between, the key is having a system and platform that integrates everything in one place so that all the individual elements can work together.
From the utopian view, we have all seen the science fiction movie projections of fully automated homes that anticipate, talk, react, etc. The technology gets closer to this every day. As the saying goes, “Science fiction today, science fact tomorrow”.
* What sort of equipment do you need to set up an automated home?
The first and most important element of any real automated home is a central control/communication platform that integrates all of the individual devices and services in one place so that they can work together. This is what allows what seem like very complex sequences of actions to be made very simple for everyone. For example: when I walk in the door of my home, I want the lights in the hallway, living room and kitchen to come on. I want the latest news to open on my TV, and the water heater to come on so that I can have a hot shower. I also want a message sent to my spouse indicating that I am at home. We can do this today, but not if you have all these things on standalone systems that don’t work with the others. If they are not integrated with everything else, that’s not automation, that’s just an upgraded remote control.
* How many technology fans in the Middle East are opting for home automation?
To this point in time, the uptake has been somewhat sporadic and slow. There are a few logical reasons for this. It has been expensive. The products and services did not communicate with each other. Also, our automation needs have been addressed from an equipment resellers’ mentality as opposed to a service mentality. All of this has now changed.
* Is the market here growing?
Absolutely. One of the most significant factors for growth is people gaining the knowledge to make informed decisions about anything new. When you see the regional Smart City initiatives, Gitex Shopper in Dubai creating a Smart Living section within the exhibition, and now the IOTx (Internet of Things exhibition) as well as the daily visibility of products and services, you see the build-up of that critical information and knowledge that generate interest and confidence for people to grow into ‘Smart Living’.
* How much of an element of luxury is there to home automation products?
Smart Living can range from the practical: saving money and energy, to the vital: keeping an eye on the baby, to the comfort and convenience: begin watching a movie and have the lights go down and the popcorn maker start. There should also be an element of luxury to Smart Living. Who doesn’t deserve a little bit of luxury in their life.
A few things that make your life a bit easier and bring a smile to your face. Also, having all of your movies, music and photographs in a personal cloud/library that is accessible to you across multiple screens and devices from anywhere you may be in the world might sound initially like a luxury, however, it is something that almost everyone wants and it becomes very practical very quickly.
* Is home automation more the preserve of the wealthy at the moment?
Until this moment, Yes. In the next moment, and I mean ‘as soon as you read this’, that is no longer the case.
* Will this change in the coming years – i.e. will the products become more accessible and widespread?
Yes. Technology has been evolving at a rapid pace and changing our lives with it. We are all now part of something bigger than just ourselves placing us at the centre of an ecosystem of things that work together for our benefit: books, fridges, clothing, cars etc. That evolution is unstoppable and will continue to move us forward on the Smart Living journey.
* What are some of the barriers to home automation uptake in the Middle East?
There were many barriers to propagation of home automation, including the complexity of the technology that is not for the faint hearted, the fragmentation between platforms that are built into silos of functionalities, the need for costly integration or retrofits, not to mention the price tags attached. But the good news is that we now have a platform that can bring together the different automation utilities that are needed, easily and at an affordable price, and the barriers are quickly being brought down.