February 19, 2019
Home alone kids and the 24/7 intelligent home
My eldest child is at an age where he’ll soon be responsible for letting himself in after school, making him the default person in charge of our home for a period of time. As a parent, this causes anxiety bordering on neuroticism. Despite all the preparation that I can take him through, I’m still left worrying about it at work. Is he home yet? What is happening? What is he doing? Is he OK? Can he hear the carbon monoxide alarm over the sound of Fortnite? Can he hear somebody at the front door through his headphones?
I don’t want to invade his privacy by pointing my home security cameras inside rather than out. And it is neither practical or indicative of trust if I keep calling or messaging him every 15 minutes to make sure that the house isn’t on fire.
But I’d still like the peace-of-mind to know that he is safe and well.
I’m not the only one who shares this desire. In our recent survey of 6,000 consumers in the US and UK, 75% of respondents with children under 16 would give permission for the smart home to help them out by letting them know what their children are doing when left home alone.
At Audio Analytic, we call it the intelligent home – Google-owned Nest calls it the thoughtful home – but essentially we mean the same thing. This is the next step in the smart home where products and services move beyond basic connectivity to something with AI at its core. The intelligent home understands how the home is at different states during the day and how its capabilities depend on the occupants. It doesn’t need to be turned on, it is just there, either running 24/7 because it is so damn accurate or because other information indicates that the home has moved into a different state.
Take the issue of home alone children. The intelligent home knows what a carbon monoxide alarm or smoke alarm sounds like and can precisely distinguish it from other sounds in my home. Because the underlying technology is accurate it can run all day, every day, but how it reacts depends on the state my home is in.
For example, should my smoke alarm be set off during the night I want my home to turn on lighting, possibly unlock smart locks, contact a professional security company or eventually the emergency services. While nobody is in during the day I want my home to alert me, the emergency services or a friend with a key. But when my son is home alone it also needs to alert me. It can’t assume that because it detects occupancy that the person at home has the necessary capabilities to deal with something serious such as a gas leak or fire.
Old-fashioned home security was turned on or turned off and existed in that black and white state. The intelligent home delivers benefits right through the shades of grey.
Beyond listening out for serious issues, such as smoke and CO alarms or windows being broken, intelligent home devices, like smart speakers, screens, hubs, set-top boxes, doorbells and cameras can also use sound to better understand what occupants are doing. Again, especially important when you have children at home. The ability to access my intelligent home app at work or ask my voice assistant to check-in means that I can be informed on what my son is doing, in the same way, I will check in on him while I’m at home. My mum refers to it as ‘keeping an ear out’.
For example, knowing that somebody has knocked on the front door, is cooking in the kitchen or that doors have been opened and closed gives my important cues that my son is home and doing the usual activities that one might expect (or not).
When adults are home, the intelligent home would know, by using facial recognition or speech recognition, and would stop providing this activity information and would instead focus its abilities on supporting a busy family during the evening state that it has entered.
The intelligent home will mean different things to different people and families, offering as much personalisation as our homes have always done. But we’ll give our homes the ability to help us to keep it, and the people we love, safe and well. The end result, greater peace-of-mind and a less neurotic parent.
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About Audio Analytic
Audio Analytic is the pioneer of AI sound recognition software. The company is on a mission to map the world of sounds, offering our sense of hearing to consumer technology. By transferring our sense of hearing to consumer products and digital personal assistants we give them the ability to react to the world around us, helping satisfy our entertainment, safety, security, wellbeing and communication needs.
Audio Analytic’s ai3™ sound recognition software enables device manufacturers and chip companies to equip products with Artificial Audio Intelligence, recognizing and automatically responding to our growing list of sound profiles.