THE HOME OF THE FUTURE IS HERE - Sunday Mail, 22 May 2005

Peace of mind comes with knowing that your loved ones are safe when you are not at home. With a little prudent investment, that assurance can be yours by housing your family in a “smart” home.

Smart homes, a relatively new concept in Malaysia, were pioneered by I-Innovations Group of Companies. Smart homes are a reflection of the demand for security by the emerging house buyers.

“Safety is an issue for many people and they are willing to pay for it, provided they see results,” says I-Innovations Corp Sdn Bhd group managing director Steven Gan.

He explains that smart home is a term used to define a dwelling that uses advanced technology and automation to provide a safe and hassle-free lifestyle to its residents. There is no high-tech gadgets placed in the home. All that is needed is for the resident to be information technology (IT) savvy and know how to use a computer.

“Though smart homes, we are putting IT features inside the home. As the use of the Internet is already extensive here, people only have to make the best use of what the digital age has to offer. It is about e-connect, using the web to enhance your quality of life and reduces stress,” Gan explains.

He says that eventually smart homes will have a gamut of features comprising e-commerce, e-education, e-shopping, etcetera, but at the moment the main focus is to provide security.

E-connect links the home to the central monitoring system (CMS), which in our case is located in Nilai, Negeri Sembilan, say Gan.

I-Innovations was conceived by a group of engineers and ICT professional who specialize in ICT products and services in smart home system and intelligent building management system in the building industry, The group has also expanded to incorporate ICT into interior design outlook and interior design products and services.

Though I-Innovations, Gan hopes to make the most of his 15 years of experience in the smart home system, which he gleaned from a previous family-owned company. His focus now is to educate the public and raise awareness on the need to invest in a smart home, which he say will eventually be accessible to people from all among the various solution providers.

He says: “The association would play a role in setting the benchmark and standards for ‘smart’ communities. It will also provide a definition of what constitutes an intelligent township and smart home. This is important because we do not want this concept to suffer abuse at the expense of house buyers. Each buyer must be given accurate information on what are the characteristics of a smart home and not be mislead into purchasing a property that does not meet the requirement of this concept.

“House buyers should ask to see the CMS which operates the smart homes. In our case, member of the public are welcome to visit us in Nilai to find out more about the traits of a smart home.”

“The association would also educate the public on the advantages of living in smart homes.”

“Smart homes are not about paying for the house per se but about investing in a development project that assures buyers that the concept of smart home is included in the deal,” says Gan.

Purchasers must also be aware of the fact that such systems are high maintenance, so a maintenance fee will be charged, he adds.

Gan points out that smart home are but a component of “intelligent” townships, which are designed to incorporate the latest planning concepts and the best emerging technologies to provide a pleasant living, learning and business environment.

“The objective behind intelligent townships is to create better social and community living. Each township identity and IT plays a dominant role in the design.”

“The nerve of an intelligent township is its CMS, which enables central control of all facilities, communication, security and maintenance. A campus link will network electronically via advances infrastructure to all buildings in the township, making communication between residents easier and faster,” he says.

Top priority is accorded to the security features of a smart home. The round-the-clock security system will automate and monitor certain security functions. The security system is connected to the CMS which acts as the “intelligent guard dog”.

“Should there be any emergency, our security team will take no longer than 15 minutes to get to the residence to render assistance. We are also collaborating with the police. They are only too happy to have us assist them in crime prevention efforts,” he says.

Says Gan: “The buyers aside, developers too must embrace the winds of change in lifestyle propagated through intelligent townships. I see no reason why this shift should face any resistance. Associating themselves with intelligent townships not only puts the developer a notch higher, it also makes them trendsetters, offering house buyers an accessible and effective approach to smart living.

“For example, through e-connect, we can provide many services to house buyers. We will start with security and later we will move on to providing e-commerce and e-learning facilities.”

“Our ultimate goal is to create a township that caters to a ‘smart’ community. I think this is not impossible to achieve if we carry on educating people on the importance of adjusting their lifestyle to incorporate ICT into their daily lives, beginning at home. I-Innovations are selling services by helping to make townships more ‘intelligent’ through the application of ICT features.”

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