Intelligent imaging: Putting the ‘smarts’ in your smart home

Heard of the connected home? That’s the big category for connected appliances, ranging from smoke detectors to refrigerators, and even coffee makers to dishwashers, that our homes will soon be outfitted with.

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With household automation on the rise, marked by a steady uptick from 1.5 million installations in 2012 to a predicted eight million or more by 2017, according to ABI research, it seems we’re looking at more smart devices than we can shake a stick at.

But the last thing we want is our coffee maker to spark our smoke detector, or our dishwasher to run when it’s open. So what’s the best approach to streamlining all that smartness? We need a solution that answers the call for simplicity, relevance and convenience.

Motion sensors, the oldest member of the family of solutions targeting coordination between all your gadgets, aim at manually (and quite expensively) adding extra intelligence to things, places and spaces you already own. But what happens when your key sensor is stolen along with your purse? What happens when you have 30 sensors in your home that need to be replaced?

In this Brave New Technology World, where by 2020 more than 30 billion devices will be wirelessly connected to the Internet of Things, according to ABI Research, intelligent imaging – which encompasses face recognition, scene detection, content analysis, object tracking and image enhancement – cuts the clearest path to efficiency by transforming our interface experience. Why deal with multiple motion sensors that “guess” what’s going on, when you could have one hub or app that controls all your smart devices, operates in the cloud and “sees” what’s going on?

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Devices powered by intelligent imaging software that can “see” and respond to specific people and situations, making this approach vastly more practical than the, “there’s a sensor for that” mentality. The sensor route unavoidably segues to more and more hardware, and consequentially a mounting price tag for the consumer. Not only that, motion-based sensors are “blind” and at risk of becoming obsolete due to a volatile technology landscape, rendering the use of motion detection analysis extremely limited and far from fool-proof.

A home Wi-Fi camera powered by intelligent imaging with facial recognition, alternately, could analyze the entire scene in a way that’s relevant to you, and send alerts to your smartphone or computer based on events you actually care about. It could “see” smoke in a room even before the smoke alarm detects it; know the difference between your spouse and a stranger who shouldn’t be in your home (even if they come in, key in hand); or keep certain cabinets and/or doors locked and privy to adults only (medicine, liquor, etc.).

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And because intelligent imaging works the same way human beings think and function – in a visual manner – it can also “adapt” to accommodate your lifestyle by learning your preferences, schedule and needs. Perhaps one spouse doesn’t drink coffee, but the other does: your smart home could recognize the caffeine-dependent individual when he or she stumbles like a zombie into the kitchen, and automatically turn the coffee maker on.

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Home automation can potentially swell into a hardware headache or blossom into a beautiful lifestyle convenience. While a sensor-based automation system is limited in its usefulness at best, we believe imaging technology – while much more complex – is a more sustainable and intelligent solution that will take the connected home to a whole new level.

About the author

Caroline Tien-Spalding

As Senior Director of Marketing for ArcSoft consumer imaging applications and photography black belt, Caroline Tien-Spalding is always looking to turn pixels into magic pixie dust. Caroline has built an impressive track record of success in the mobile app and consumer markets, as the driving force behind bringing ArcSoft’s Perfect365 app, now faster growing than Instagram, to the forefront of almost 30 million users. Prior to ArcSoft, she was instrumental in successfully launching the renowned photo app Camera Awesome with SmugMug and spreading the word on wireless memory cards at Eye-Fi.  Caroline is a University of California, Berkeley alumna (go bears!) and has a masters in Linguistics.

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