This IoT Expert Built a Smart Home in 3 Months by@ayoibrahim

This IoT Expert Built a Smart Home in 3 Months

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Sarafadeen Ibrahim Ayomide HackerNoon profile picture

Sarafadeen Ibrahim Ayomide

Technical Writer passionate about cloud computing, IoT, and their varied applications.

For something that was judged mysterious, the Internet of Things' (IoT) increased utilization is another proof of the continued demystification of technology, and fast-paced synergy between humans and technology.

Its applications span across a number of areas, from manufacturing to healthcare, to security, and even as solutions to security and control in the real estate industry.

To deconstruct the mystery around the technology, I interviewed an IoT expert whose forte is synergy between IoT and real estate. He built a fully functional smart home in 3 months. But before diving into the interview, it is key that we define what the IoT means;

Simply put, the IoT is a technology that smartens. Smartening results increased utilization, and capacity of devices to detect and report. Devices enabled with IoT functionalities are called "smart" devices, and as evident in this interview, all devices can be made "smart" — including the seemingly improbable like walls or fences.

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The instance of notifications is what sets IoT-enabled devices apart. To get a full insight into the functions and use, read the interview below:

Q: What prompted the urge to smarten your home? How did you conceive the idea?

A: Well, my job is all about `IOT & m2m` communication. So, when my house was fully constructed, I desired absolute control of the security of my home. And what better solution would allow me this if not IoT?

Q: What is m2m communication?

A: Put simply, m2m communication is communication between objects and mediums, and between humans and mediums or objects. With m2m communication, humans can speak to and control what happens to a wall with a single tap, or even their voices.

Q: How long did it take you to implement an IoT solution in your home?

A: Surprisingly, the implementation didn't take long, it took about 3 to 4 months for full integration of a basic IOT monitoring solution.

Q: What device/s did you use for your solution?

A : I used a RUT955 Teltonika router,WIFI cameras enabled with speaker & microphone functionality, a gate wireless contact to sense touch at the gate, an Electrical fence contact to serve this same purpose for the fence, a 12 Volt DC Siren for notification and alarm purposes. I also added a 230 AC to 12 Volt DC adapter for power supply and storage.

Q: Did you use any of the Trinity functionalities?

A: No, I didn't. I wanted my solution to be off-grid, so trinity functionalities were needless. However, the Teltonika router was from Trinity.

Q: How was that even possible? It's almost impossible to build an IoT solution without a trinity functionality. I am curious, was your decision well-informed? Did you face any major challenges during the build-up of your smart home?

A: Ah, yes, I sure did. Trinity functionalities help with device and connectivity management. However, I wanted to experiment with non-usage of a trinity functionality, and I did just that.

Q: Aha, something about defying the norms?

A: Aha, yes.

Q: Talking about the trinity functionality, what particularises its importance to IoT solutions? Please, explain this growing importance within the context of the chokepoints you experienced in your build-up.

A: Oh, okay. I faced 3 major pitfalls:

The build-up of my solution was such that notification was through SMS whenever an event happened in the home. So, per activity detected by the smart functions in my house, I get an SMS.

Subscription to an SMS bundle was monthly, and the SMS count per bundle was fixed — thus, if the bundle gets exhausted, I lose access to notification by the smart functions.

So, there were months that my SMS bundle got exhausted and conversely, I missed important events. I only got to know of the missed events days after they occurred. And it was wasteful to buy large SMS bundles for fear of underutilization and converse wastage.

If I had trinity functionalities installed, I wouldn't have to worry about these — the Pay as You Go (PayG) model allows me to pay for exactly what I use, and abates the under- and over-utilization problem.

Second, my device loses data connectivity sometimes and this results in instant disconnection from the network. With trinity functionalities, there is a "comms timeout" alert that can buy me some time to fix the connectivity issue. And in the event that I'm unable to fix the issue, there is a "Monitor Comms Recovery" which is a history of network performance and missed events during the failed connection.

Lastly, I couldn't use the sim card type implemented by Trinity. Trinity uses telemetry sim cards commonly chipped in the cameras, and other IoT functionalities. Since I didn't use trinity, it was hard to get smart devices for my solution.

Q: Tell us in detail about what your smart home can do?

A: My smart home is enabled for a lot of functions. Let me break them down:

  • My smart home monitors events and alarms me immediately. For instance, if an object passes through the coverage range of the camera; the camera takes a snapshot of the object and sends it to my RUT955 router using Wi-Fi. When the router receives the snapshot, I get an alert on my mobile phone — the camera is routed to my device.
  • As for the gate, if it opens or closes, that event is transmitted to a receiver via RF. This receiver has been connected to an input system called Digital Input 1. So, this input system has a gauge such that if it goes high, an SMS is sent to notify me that the gate is opening. However, if the input system goes low, I get notified that the gate is closing. And, should I desire to know who's at the gate, I can by using the camera app on my mobile phone.
  • The electrical fence is wired to another input system called the Digital Input System 2. If any of the cables at the fence is cut by an outsider, the contact closes and sends a High Volt Signal that switches the sirens ON. When this happens, I get an SMS saying the fence siren is ON.

The siren is also wired to Digital Input 2 so it switches ON when the volt signal from the fence is high and does the opposite when it is low.

  • The 230volt AC to 12volt DC adapter is connected to the house mains to monitor power failure. It is wired to an Analogue Input that relies on voltage surge — electricity comes ON when voltage is sufficient, and blanks out if otherwise.
  • The Battery & Charger provide power backup to all connected devices. When electric power goes off, the battery takes over and when it is restored, the charger recharges the battery.

Q: Fantastic summary. Thank you. Do these infer the usefulness of IoT?

A: Yes, I’m sure you would agree with me, too. IoT allows you to monitor every event in your home. Aside from monitoring, you can even control these events. The one in my house only monitors, so I can not control events. Control is doable using cost-effective DIY IoT solutions, too.

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Q: Are these functions limited to small projects, alone? Are they replicable in large projects? If they are, what kind of applications come to mind?

A: Yes, they are. IoT will be ubiquitous in the coming years, especially in manufacturing. A manufacturing firm producing a product storable in silos and tanks can, for example, use IoT solutions to detect whether the tank is full or half full.

Q: Hm. Can you provide a brief architecture of this possible solution?

A: As part of this solution, a Dual SIM card will be used to provide auto failover to a secondary SIS. So, if a product needs to send its data via the RS232, RS485 or LAN port to a server e.g. a meter – the RUT can point the raw data or http data or MQTT data to a customer server. This solution could be scaled using one router, and management platforms like trinity to enable total control and management without chokepoints.

Q: Interesting discussion, here. Thank you for your time and contributions.

A: It's a pleasure, sarafadeen. Thanks for your brilliant questions, too.

In conclusion, increased utilization of IoT solutions by various industries is not by happenstance — it's borne out of a yearn for control and management of mediums - a marker for operational efficiency.

Sarafadeen Ibrahim Ayomide HackerNoon profile picture
by Sarafadeen Ibrahim Ayomide @ayoibrahim.Technical Writer passionate about cloud computing, IoT, and their varied applications.
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