Is it time for Irish homes to get smarter? SIRO’s Head of Operations Cian O’Mahony gives his views on the life-changing potential of smart homes.
Is it time for Irish homes to get smarter?
For generations leaving the immersion on was one of the worst offences that could be committed in an Irish household, worse even than missing the ‘long’ mass on a Sunday. The arrival of the plug-in timer has resolved this ecumenical burden, for those of you who remember to use it! Now, technology has leaped forward again with the onset of smart homes. But what do smart homes mean in practice for Irish householders? Smart homes can mean different things depending on your stage of life and on the built environment or building type in which smart technology is being installed. Below, I look at these aspects.
A segment of our population I have been very engaged with recently through lock downs, both personally and professionally, are those over 70. The bandwidth demands of our senior citizens is often overlooked. However, their ability to continue to adjust and use technology, particularly during the pandemic, has been marked.
Many have lived through a world war and other life challenges, so they come armed with resilience and adaptability. The first thing to note is that elderly are serious bandwidth consumers already. Tablets for the zoom calls with grandkids in New Zealand, no problem. RTE Player on the smart TV? A must. DAB radio for the stations they prefer, even an old Amazon Dash Button to replenish the kitchen essentials. Society will always be judged on how it looks after the vulnerable and smart tech can give older people greater comfort and convenience in their lives.
Stakeholders to the fore in enabling smart tech must now also look across the generations and consider how smart homes can better support our elderly in their earned autumn years. Technology is responding to this need, with the application of smart tech for the elderly an area which has really taken off in recent years. Increasingly it spans a broad spectrum from connecting with loved ones right up to sophisticated remote medical monitoring.
“Providing the very best fibre broadband infrastructure creates the platform on which the full potential of smart tech will be realised.”
The volume of connected devices in the home now is a figure that varies depending on the publication, but likely north of 10, and growing rapidly. A key focus in this space will be privacy and security, as the application of technology to this demographic is more of a base skill set. We grew up with it to a degree.
For SIRO, we recognise our role is to ensure we deliver a broadband installation which gives as strong a foundation for a seamless experience across all devices as possible. Positioning our entry point as close to the centre of the home, providing the customer with advice on modem positioning (no photo frames near it, not behind a TV, up as high as you can facilitate). In addition, we help customers connect their first two devices to the broadband network and carry out a speed test to demonstrate the product they have purchased is working correctly.
Beyond this, our retail partners are coming to market with Wi-Fi enhancement products to further underpin the backbone connectivity which all these devices require. This will likely become the norm in all homes.
The pace of technological development has accelerated in each generation, and this will be no different for the babies born in 2021. They will apply technology available today in an even more sophisticated way than we currently do. The next generation will go further, turning existing technology features into tangible benefits – even to solve global problems.
This will include reducing carbon emissions throughout the home through fully interconnected devices or making connected home security enhancements accessible to all. Think a fridge that adapts to the ambient temperature; a washing machine which senses the weight and shortens its spin cycle or a set of security cameras and scanners that have a WPS set up to the home Wi-Fi and link back to monitoring stations.
These features exist today but applying them as standard across our homes will move the next generation on to a whole other level of expectations. Providing the very best fibre broadband infrastructure creates the platform on which the full potential of smart tech will be realised.
“The pace of technological development has accelerated in each generation, and this will be no different for the babies born in 2021.”
As homes are constructed, we typically think of the thickness of the walls and the effectiveness of the roof. However, increasingly the commentary has moved to the presence of fibre broadband.
A real shift in sentiment has been experienced through lockdown, and the feeling is that purchasers of all homes, new and old, are now attuned to the importance of purchasing a property that will facilitate their 10+ devices and importantly, the ability to work from home in the new post-COVID-19 normal.
Fibre broadband is the gold standard in broadband connectivity. SIRO continues to work with a range of developers across Ireland to ensure our 100% fibre-to-the-premise service is available in all new developments. We also advise on home layouts to ensure a customer can enjoy broadband from the first day they move in, including that the devices and the modem are strategically positioned to maximise efficacy of use.
Similarly, with SIRO’s enterprise product we work closely with each business on the installation of our fibre service, in both new and existing business premises, to ensure they can use the service in the way their business demands. Whether that’s wireless connectivity with machines on a manufacturing floor or wired upload speeds capable of sending the next Oscar-nominated animation feature across the Atlantic to Hollywood studios.
Smarter homes, in addition to retrofitting of older homes, can make a meaningful contribution in driving a more sustainable and energy efficient Ireland. Part of Ireland’s green and digital recovery must be fostered not just within our business community but also within our homes and a focus on smarter homes must be part of that objective.
The ‘immersion generation’ can drive the smart home movement too. Investing in smart home devices might just be the way to exorcise their childhood demons!
Cian O’Mahony, is Head of Operations at SIRO, a joint venture between ESB and Vodafone, rolling out a new 100% fibre broadband network across Ireland.