ITGS Case Study 2016 - Smart Homes

The 2016 the paper 3 case study for ITGS Higher Level (HL) students is titled 'Smart Homes', and technology used to automate the home and connect devices within it. The case study was released at the beginning of June 2015. This page contains a variety of lesson resources which might be helpful when teaching this case study.

This case study is for November 2016 only. The case study for May 2017 is Wearable Technology – Kita Health Tech (KHT).

Smart Homes

Smart Home and Home Automation companies

The following companies are involved in the competitive smart homes market and offer an interesting insight into the latest technical developments.

SmartThings is a company offering home automation technology to monitor, control, and secure your home.

Nest is famous for its smart smoke alarms and thermostats. As a cutting edge company its website is well worth a visit to find out about the latest in smart home technology.

Malibu Wired has a wide range of home automation products

At the centre of Loxone's smart home systems is their Miniserver, to which all other devices are connected. Their website has over a dozen case studies of smart homes projects ranging from basic installation to advanced automation. Thoroughly recommended.

One of the reasons I have included Control 4 here is their unique website layout: scrolling down moves the reader through the day, with an explanation of how Control 4's smart home technology can assist you at that point in time. It's a creative approach which highlights the company's entertainment, security, and comfort products.

Updated: 2015-11-14
Smart homes examples

Examples of Smart Homes

How Stuff Works often provides a good introduction to an ITGS topic, and smart homes are no exception. Their page covers the most common types of home automation technology, as well as giving an overview of the benefits and potential issues.

Home Automation is a short video which demonstrates a real-life home that has been converted into a smart home by a technology enthusiast. The video also goes into some detail about how this control and automation happens.

Inside the house of the future is a video which covers smart technology in many different rooms, including the kitchen, bedroom, living room, and bathroom.

Smart homes a reality in S Korea describes possible advancements in smart home technology. Despite being a slightly older article it is useful for examining how technology has changed in recent years and whether or not predictions have been realised (and why).

A new kind of fire fighting describes smart buildings which can monitor themselves, providing alerts in the event of a fire and offering emergency responders an insight into exactly what is happening inside the building.

Tony Fadell: the man who wants to take control of your home is a good introduction to the concepts of smart homes. It covers basic home automation technology including alarm systems and a smoke alarm which will text your smart phone if your house is burning down(!).

Updated: 2015-12-04
Remote patient monitoring

Remote patient monitoring

One possible use of smart homes is to monitor elderly people or hospital outpatients.

Project Gerhome is the smart home / patient monitoring project I cover in the textbook. Its aims are to use a variety of technologies, including video cameras, to monitor elderly people in their homes. The site is primarily in French but there is an English-language page about the project here.

Could telehealth revolutionise NHS patient care? (BBC)
How tech can help the elderly stay independent (BBC Click video)
Patients can also be monitored. This BBC video explains how Alzheimer's patients can be tracked with satellite technology.
Updated: 2014-11-07
Smart homes problems

Smart Home issues

Smart homes do raise a variety of ITGS social and ethical issues, some of which are covered in the articles below

Updated: 2015-12-04

IFTTT - If This Then That

IFTTT (pronounced like 'gift' without the 'g') is a system providing automation of devices and services through simple sets of rules called recipes. Facebook, Google, DropBox, and many other services support IFTTT integration. Many smart home devices now support IFTTT, and the service is also suggested as a possible solution to home automation problems in the ITGS Smart Homes case study (line 39).

  • Home automation has a dedicated section on the IFTTT home page, and covers examples such as controlling lights, saving water, and even making coffee!
  • The Ultimate IFTTT Guide is a good introduction to IFTTT concepts like recipies, triggers, and actions, explained in a very clear format with screenshots and examples.
  • How to Automate Anything with IFTTT is a tutorial style article covering the setup of the IFTTT service. This could be a good activities for students to complete to help them understand the options and possibilities offered.
  • 35 IFTTT-friendly smart devices provides plenty of examples of the types of devices that now support IFTTT
  • Home security & smart home devices that work with IFTTT covers a wide range of devices from the media players to car monitors - all of which can be monitored or automated using IFTTT.
  • Home Seer is one of several companies offering smart home appliances that integrate with IFTTT services. Their website has a good range of example recipes.

Updated: 2016-01-27
Internet of Things (IoT)

Internet of Things (IoT)

The Internet of Things - connected devices which continuously collect data and share it over networks - could play a key role in the smart home case study 2016. Below are some resources that introduce and explain the centre ideas of this concept.

  • The Internet of Things by IBM introduces the IoT, the idea of instrumented devices, and how all this data collection can benefit us. It discusses many benefits of how connected devices could help us from the moment we wake up in the morning.
  • What Does The Internet of Things Mean? is another introduction to the IoT, this time from Intel. This video covers a wider range of benefits, including advantages in healthcare, travel and traffic, and manufacturing. The diagrams in this video do a really good job of highlighting the potential scale of the Internet of Things.
  • How It Works: Internet of Things. Although this video focuses on the IoT when applied to cars, the explanation of data collection, prioritisation, sharing, and analysis make it a really valuable resource which could easily be applied to the smart homes in the case study.
  • Green Peak's website divides the transition to smart homes into three steps, and suggests that the Internet of Things will be the final step in the process. The site contains a good amount of information about how smart home and Internet of Things technology works.
  • 6 Predictions for IoT and Smart homes. Although this site is quite speculative, I have included it here because the predictions it makes could be the basis for a good classroom discussion about the future of smart homes, the benefits, and any potential problems.

Updated: 2016-02-05