400 homes to be wired in tech trial

SOME S$17mil (RM37.4mil) will be spent to see if the idea of a smart home can be translated from the drawing board into a real home over the next few months. 

In the trial, 400 homes in Singapore will be the testing ground for technologies that may be exported worldwide. 

That means things like turning on the home air-conditioning when you leave the office, so everything is nice and cool when you get back. 

The Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) and five consortiums are involved in the trial to develop such systems. These are in development now, and should see the first users in about six months. 

The five consortiums represent 32 local and international companies, including LG, Samsung, Sun Microsystems, SingTel and StarHub. The IDA will give S$4.5mil (RM9.9mil). The companies have to fork out the rest.  

The idea of using real homes - so-called “living labs” - is so that Singaporeans can experience the advantages of a “connected home”. In return, the companies get real-life users' feedback, and can modify the system or pricing to make sure that it is viable later on. 

Singapore was ideal for such a trial, said IDA assistant chief executive Khoong Hock Yun because people here are fast adopters of technology. 

But the trials will not benefit just Singaporeans. 

Some companies like LG said that it will help them to bring a complete system back to South Korea while Australian-based Portus said that it will allow it to see how the technology works in an Asian context, where homes are built closer together. 

The consortiums have different applications and ways to control things at home and connect to the Internet, but the principle is the same: A device or software gateway that connects all computers and electronic gadgets and a fast broadband connection. 

This way, content, such as movies from the Internet, can be piped into your laptop in the bedroom, or recipes sent direct to the refrigerator. The gateway will also connect to your mobile phone, so you could get multimedia messages to check on what is going on at home. 

But the gateways will have limits. If you want the frills, you might have to pay for new-generation electronic goods with built-in microchips that can understand the signals coming from power lines or wireless signals. – The Straits Times/ Asia News Network  

  • Another perspective from The Straits Times, a partner of Asia News Network. 

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