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Category "Tech"

An efficient Schedule and Notification system for IOT devices

by Author
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Schedule and Notification System :

Internet of Things (IOT) is one of the greatest innovations in Technology . Some of its applications are Home Automation, Surveillance, wearable devices, smart cars, etc. Schedule systems for these IOT devices have become so beneficial. We designed Schedule system for arranging, controlling and optimizing work and workloads like automating the turning of bulbs on/off, periodic watering of plants using smart devices, etc. Notification systems enhance the delivering of notifications as per event to the appropriate entity. Notifications are a way to notify you as a form of popup or message in email & sms about any events like friendly reminders, device failures, schedules success ,etc.

Connectivity is everywhere.

Lets see a use case of a schedule system :

Suppose I have an AC at home and I want to turn it OFF at 1 am and make my fan ON at the same time everyday. So the schedule system will schedule the AC to be OFF and fan ON at 1 am. everyday. And the notification system will notify about the event status. This is a simple use case for schedule and notification system. 

We can also schedule watering devices at nursery to water plants everyday at 7 in the morning and this makes our job easy.

Let’s take a problem statement :

Here we have a bunch of devices like AC, bulbs, fans and heater.We want to design a schedule system for these devices and get notifications for every scheduled event .

How can we interact with the devices :

Here, we have devices like AC, bulbs, fans and heater which are all connected to a single Atom8 device, which controls the other connected devices asynchronously. You can check the Atom8 devices here.

The image shows how the devices interact with cloud services for control.
Way to control devices

MQTT Protocol :

MQTT stands for MQ Telemetry Transport. It is a machine to machine / ‘Internet of Things’ connectivity protocol. It is a lightweight, publish-subscribe message transport network protocol that transports messages between devices.

MQTT Broker :

It is a server through which all the messages are passed hence, it acts like a middle man which supports pub-sub messaging pattern and all the devices are connected to it. It uses the topic of message and decides which client and device are getting messages.

MQTT Topics :

Topics refers to strings that brokers use to filter messages for each connected client and device.

This is a simple explanation for MQTT
MQTT Broker and Topics

The above diagram is an example of how devices interact. Broker contains two MQTT topics Topic 1 & Topic 2. Here it uses a pub-sub model. Device A subscribes to Topic 1 and Device B subscribes to Topic 2. 

Now when the client publishes a message ‘ON’ to Topic 1, the broker will send this message to all devices and clients that have subscribed to Topic 1. In current case the Device A will recieve message to and will turn itself On.

For more details, refer : https://medium.com/@slysterous/a-detailed-guide-to-the-world-of-mqtt-8155f7475dd5

AWS IOT and MQTT :

AWS IOT is a platform by Amazon Web services to manage ‘Internet Of Things’ devices. These devices are also termed as ‘Things’. Like other services AWS IOT can connect to other AWS cloud services making its application much wider. 

Things transmit messages through device gateway, where they update the ‘Device Shadow’. A device shadow (or a thing shadow) is an object/document holding information of device in AWS IOT Device Shadow Service and updates to change the state of the device . The thing shadow eliminates the need to request information from the device to retrieve its state and reduces network traffic. In our case the Atom8 device is a thing. We have to set up the thing on AWS IOT first. 

For use case, refer : https://medium.com/tensoriot/aws-iot-creating-your-first-cloud-bound-device-d8dca0695f43

Sending Message to a device :

AWS IOT uses MQTT broker to transmit messages between Cloud and Devices. Suppose we want to make our AC ‘On’. Atom8 device handles AC. So now we have to update device shadow (state of the device) using Rest calls. A message publishes to the current Atom8 thing topic of AWS IOT MQTT broker when there is an update in device shadow. Now our Atom8 device have already subscribed to that topic so the broker publishes that message to this Atom8 device and as per the message it makes our AC ‘On’.

A sample flow chart to change the state of device :

The prcoces here shows end to end system to change the device state.
Process to change the device state

Structure of Device Shadow :

Device Shadows can make a device’s state available to apps and other services. Every shadow has a reserved MQTT topic and HTTP URL that supports the get, update, and delete actions on the shadow.Shadows use JSON shadow documents to store and retrieve data. A shadow’s document contains a state property that describes these aspects of the device’s state:

  1. desired
    – This  specifies the desired states of device properties by updating the desired object.
  2. reported
    – Devices report their current state in the reported object.
  3. delta
    – AWS IoT reports differences between the desired and the reported state in the delta object.

Example Shadow Document :

{
    "state": {
        "desired": {
            "field1": integer2,
            "field2": "string2"
        },
        "reported": {
            "field1": integer1,
            "field2": "string1"
        }
    },
    "version": version
}

For more details about device shadow you can refer this : https://docs.aws.amazon.com/iot/latest/developerguide/device-shadow-document.html

So now we are familiar with the process of changing the state of a device. Let’s start with a simple approach to Schedule and Notification system i.e. Version 1.

Schedule and Notification System V1 :

In this simple approach, we will design an end to end system to run schedules and send notifications to appropriate entities.

Here we use AWS cloudwatch, Lambda, IOT and Send Notification services.We write API codes are in AWS Lambda.

As we have already discussed in detail about how we can change the device state using device shadow, Mqtt and Atom8 devices. In this design we will focus on changing the device shadow state in AWS IOT for schedules.

The basic schedule and notification system for IOT devices using AWS.
Schedule and Notification System Version1

Process :

  • To run the schedules we want to call ExecuteScheulde API  at appropriate time everyday. So for that we will use Events rule in AWS Cloud Watch. Here we will define a rule to trigger a event at scheduled time and call ExecuteSchedule with appropriate data about the update to device details and required state changes.
  • Every Atom8 device can handle multiple devices like fan & AC and a home can have multiple Atom8 devices.
  • So every schedule can have multiple events of the same Atom8 devices or combination of multiple Atom8 devices.
  • For ‘n’ events ExecuteSchedule API will make ‘n’ asynchronous calls to UpdateThingShadow API. So AWS will create ‘n’ instances of UpdateThingShadow and these instances will update the desired state of the respective thing’s device shadow in AWS IOT.
  • This updates in device shadow will publish messages to respective MQTT topics and topics will publish messages to subscribed devices.
  • Hence in this way we can run multiple events in a single schedule.
  • After that the ExecuteSchedule API will call SendNotification API which will create a notification body and also will list endpoints of device’s owners.
  • After the completion of the above work, SendNotification API will push Notification messages to the concerned SNS endpoints which will push notifications to concerned phones.

In this way we can automate a schedule and send notification. Here we can also set events in cloudwatch using code made with aws-sdk.

Disadvantages of above system :

  • When a device changes its state as per desired state it reports back with a reported state to AWS IOT results in updating reported state of device shadow of particular thing. In the above system we are not considering the reported state. So if a device fails to report back due to any issue, still the schedule will be considered successful.
  • All MQTT calls are asynchronous and the messages sometimes are not in order, so handling and checking the reported state is difficult.
  • Here we don’t consider any type of failure in the schedule event. The reason we can update the desired state is whether the device is online or offline, but the device only reports back when it’s online. So not considering the reported state can neglect failures of events.
  • Further we cannot notify users about successful, partial or failed execution of schedule.

To overcome these disadvantages we can design an improved Schedule and Notification system.

Schedule and Notification System V2 :

Here the main point of concern was to consider the reported state of the device also. To do that our system must have to wait for the device to report back so that we can analyze the reported state and see whether the scheduled event was successful.

So here AWS StepFunctions becomes very useful. StepFunctions consists of workflow of states. Our system can be divided into different states and we can define a workflow to run those states in a required manner. In StepFunctions we will work on two most important features which are Dynamic Parallelism and waitForTaskToken.

Dynamic Parallelism in step functions :

In Dynamic Parallelism in step functions, we can run identical parallel tasks as per input to the state. Here the number of parallel tasks is decided as per the length of the input array. It runs on scatter and gather model. The ‘Map’ state can be used in step functions to run the same steps for multiple entries of the input array in parallel.

For examples, refer : https://docs.aws.amazon.com/step-functions/latest/dg/tutorial-creating-map-state-machine.html

waitForTaskToken’ task in step functions :

These types of tasks can be used when we need a callback from an external service. So here we can call an external service with a taskToken included in the input. Here the workflow will stop and wait for taskToken to be returned with ‘sendTaskSuccess’ after which the task will be considered finished and the workflow will resume. ’sendTaskSuccess’ along with taskToken can be sent using aws-sdk in any programming language.

Example of waitForTaskToken task :

"sample wait state": {
  "Type": "Task",
  "Resource": "arn:aws:states:::lambda::invoke.waitForTaskToken",
  "Parameters": {
    "Function": "lambdaFunctionName",
    "Payload": {
        "input": "inputString",
        "TaskToken.$": "$$.Task.Token"
     }
  },
  "Next": "NEXT_STATE"
}

For usecases you can refer : https://docs.aws.amazon.com/step-functions/latest/dg/connect-to-resource.html

In our system we will be using a combination of Dynamic Parallelism and waitForTaskToken feature in step functions to wait for the reported state to return.

First we will execute the ExecuteScheduleWorkflow step function :

The process to initiate the schedule and notification system
Process to execute ‘ExecuteScheduleWorkflow’ step function

Here the Cloudwatch event rule will trigger ExecuteSchedule API with appropriate input at required time. And ExecuteSchedule will start ExecuteScheduleWorkflow step function.

An advanced overview showing the end to end working of schedule and notification system.
Working of ExecuteScheduleWorkflow stepfunction

Now further we will see the ExecuteScheduleWorkflow Step Function in detail.

The workflow above is designed in AWS Step Functions using Amazon states language (asl). It is similar to json and we can define states and their flow in them. You can see we can call external cloud services like lambda functions within the states.

Note : Here the states are basically the group of tasks , which runs when step function workflow running is in that state.

So lets go state by state :

State 1 : Enable Dynamic Parallelism and Update Thing shadow

  • Here suppose we have 3 events in a schedule. These events can be on the same device or different devices. So we will enable a Map task here where there will be an input array of 3 events. 
  • We will define a task called ‘UpdateShadow’ inside the map state. This map state will execute the same task ’UpdateShadow’ for every element(event) of the input array to the map state. That means for our example 3 parallel UpdateShadow tasks will run concurrently.
  • Let’s define this ‘UpdateShadow’ task

‘UpdateShadow’ task :

  • First it will create a subtask of type ‘waitForTaskToken’. This subtask will call ‘UpdateThingShadow’ lambda function with input and taskToken.
  • taskToken will be unique for every task.
  • Here this subtask will wait for taskToken to be returned within ‘n’ secs.
  • In our case there will be 3 tasks each in a parallel task waiting for a taskToken.

‘UpdateThingShadow’ Lambda Function :

  • This lambda function will store the taskToken to the dynamoDb database and with a primary key as ‘scheduleID’ and attributes a ‘taskToken’.
  • This lambda function will update the desired state of the Thing’s shadow in AWS IOT where the device will receive a message to change the state and after changing the state the device will report back with the reported state.
  • Here the desired state will also contain the field called scheduleID so that the device can report back with the same scheduleID and it will be easy to reference the task.
  • Here reports back means the reported state of the Thing’s shadow will be updated.

AWS IOT Rules :

  • Rules are the part of AWS IOT which gives you an ability to trigger any AWS cloud services when the messages are published in MQTT topics.
  • So we define a rule that whenever there is a change in the  shadow of a concerned device it can trigger the ‘SendTaskSuccess’ with the shadow update as input.

‘SendTaskSuccess’ Lambda Function :

  • Here this lambda function is triggered by AWS IOT rule when there is a change in thing shadow. Here the input is the update in shadow.
  • Now update can be any like metadata, reported state or desired state update. Here we will only consider a reported state update.
  • Now we have a reported state update we can take the scheduleID field from that and extract the taskToken from the dynamodb table.
  • Since we have the taskToken we can send task success to the step function task which is waiting for the taskToken. Here we will also send the reported state along with the taskToken.

This is how we can get the reported state of the concerned device.

Edge cases :

  • Here we know that all calls of MQTT are async and they might be out of order. But as we have a unique scheduleID for every event and also taskToken will only be received by the concerned task hence it is assured that the valid reported state will be received by the respected waiting task
  • If the device doesn’t reports back on time :
    • The subtask will run a timeout task which will call ‘CheckCurrentState’ Lambda and this lambda will check the current reported state of the respective device and here we can waitTaskToken for getting response back from CheckCurrentState Lambda.

Now here we have an output array (output from all parallel tasks) having reported states of the devices after the scheduled events are run parallely.

State 2 : SendNotification 

  • In these the desired states from input and reported states from map state are sent to the ‘SendNotification’ lambda function.

‘SendNotification’ Lambda Function :

  • Here for every event the desired state and reported state are compared checking whether the schedule was overall Successful, Partially Successful  or failed.
  • After that a message body is created.
  • We wanted to send messages to the owner of all devices so we will first get the SNS endpoints of the owners from the database.
  • We will push the Notifications in AWS Simple Notification services, which further will notify the respective owners by means of popup / sms. 

Here in these ways we step function workflow ends and finally after consideration of the reported state we made a fail safe and efficient Schedule and Notification system.

Alternative OpenSource Workflow design approaches:

  • We can use Uber cadence open source for designing the workflow.
  • We can also use Apache Airflow.

Redefine your Smart-Home with Exciting IFTTT Automations!

by Pranay

IFTTT

IFTTT (IF This Then That) is a web service that allows users to create conditional operations, called applets, which connect and enable communication between, two or more services that would not necessarily interact with each other. These applets consist of a trigger-action structure. A certain event (trigger) will set into execution one or more actions. Each IFTTT service comes with a set of triggers and actions that can be customised to fit your needs and create powerful automation for your devices.

Image of IFTTT example automation services

ATOM8 Service

The ATOM8 service on IFTTT allows users to automate their ATOM8 devices. Additionally, it allows you to connect your ATOM8 devices to a large number of internet services. Users can create applets and connect their devices to a variety of online services, building effective automation for their homes.

Actions:

Actions are the tasks you would like to be executed at a certain time. ATOM8 provides users with 2 actions:

  1. Switch on/off your devices (for all devices)
  2. Set the speed of your fan devices (for fan devices only)

To use these actions, select the “ATOM8 Smart Homes” service under the action selector and then choose the desired action. Following selection, you may be prompted to connect to the service. This link will redirect you to an authentication page where you must log in with the same email ID registered with ATOM8. After logging in, you will be prompted with 2 drop-down lists. The first lists all your devices, while the second allows you to choose the action to take on the selected device. Finally, save your applet and test it out!

Triggers:

Triggers are specific events that determine when and how to execute an action. ATOM8 provides users with a trigger that fires when their device is either turned on or off. One can use this, connected with multiple actions, to create applets that provide increased convenience and productivity!

Configure these triggers in your applet via the ATOM8 service. After authentication, select the appropriate trigger, which should redirect you to a page for customization. Choose the required device and settings, then configure some actions for when that trigger fires, and save. Your applet is ready for use!

Applet Examples

Using applets is easy and convenient. Once you log in, you can create a custom applet, or browse through pre-made options, and select the one that fits your needs. Creating an applet is just a few simple clicks away. To start, choose a trigger, connect to the service (if applicable) and configure it. After that, select one or more actions and select the relevant parameters for each one. Finally, save your applet and enable it on the corresponding devices. The applet now connects your trigger and action service through IFTTT for powerful automation and convenience!

Creating our IFTTT Applets - Hands-On Robotics with JavaScript [Book]

There are multiple applets to create and choose from. Following, are a few ATOM8 applets that we think are interesting and practical for everyday use:

  • Set your fan speed according to the weather with the use of ATOM8 actions and the local weather app triggers
  • Make a note every time your device is turned on using the ATOM8 triggers and Google Doc action
  • Configure your house lights or other devices to turn on when you are close to reaching home
  • Automatically turn off a charging outlet once your phone has been fully charged with Phone triggers
  • Use ATOM8 triggers and actions on two devices to turn one on/off every time the other does the same
  • Control your lights based on local sunrise or sunset timings with Weather triggers

Besides, there are endless possibilities for applet configurations, with new triggers and actions being released regularly. Choose from a variety of applets or create your own and redefine your home automation with IFTTT and ATOM8.

Popular IFTTT Applets

Mobile application- A necessity for businesses in the digital era

by Author

There’s a reason we call our mobiles as ‘smartphones’ is because of the host of applications they offer. In today’s digital era, having a mobile application for your business is no longer an option, but a necessity. Individuals all around the world are recognizing the same and taking it into consideration. If your company has an online presence through a website and an application, it would make a great first impression.

Many business owners think that developing an application is an expensive and unnecessary investment. Regardless of the size of your business, a mobile strategy is crucial in these changing times. If you’re still not convinced, here are other benefits of it.


Benefits of having a mobile application

Benefits of a mobile application

Increased visibility:

A mobile application will undoubtedly increase your visibility, thereby spreading brand awareness. This will, in the long run, contribute to the growth of your business and develop a loyal customer base.

Helps you engage with consumers:

Someone has rightly said ‘A satisfied customer is the best business strategy’. Mobile applications give you the opportunity to connect with your consumer on a personal level via in-app purchases and promotions. A good business relationship does not end after a purchase. Hence, allowing buyers to give their opinion about your product is the ideal choice. Applications allow you to do exactly that. People can give their reviews, suggestions, and complaints through this platform. This may help you to reanalyze your strategy.

Helps promote your products with ease:

A mobile strategy is a marketing tool that will definitely make your business stand out. The frequent updates help consumers develop an interest in your brand. The more inclined the potential customer is, the more likely they are to purchase your product. Moreover, an application helps save effort and money in other promotional techniques.


Why should your application be user-friendly?

User-friendly application

Creating a great user experience is a work of art. It requires sensitivity to different factors, one of the prime being- a holistic view of the people using the application. This implies that the app should be user-friendly. The user interface should be intuitive and easy to understand for the targeted user-base. High complexity is not valuable for the users if you want them to commit and trust your company. That is because the application should be time-saving and useful. Moreover, a clean presentation, great design, and responsiveness of the app matter in making the user experience a fantastic one.

It is obvious that your application needs to be compatible with the latest software versions- be it Android or iOS. A common user interface saves development time. Moreover, as it can be accessible by all, it serves the purpose of building brand awareness.

The home automation industry is one of many industries for whom an application is an integral part of the service. That is because most of the devices are controlled via smartphone. Atom8 is one of the leading companies in this sector. As they have opted for a simple design, it is so easy to navigate through their application. Here’s a look at some of the primary features of their application.

Control over your appliances:

The application gives you complete control over your house. Be it the television, air-conditioner, geyser, or lights, you can control it with the touch of a finger. Hence, it improves your comfort and allows you to be care-free. Moreover, because of global accessibility, you can access my smart devices from anywhere around the world with an internet connection.

Schedule appliances through application

Group your devices:

Grouping multiple smart devices through the application allow you to control them as a group by having preset scenes to trigger them simultaneously. This provides you utmost ease as you can turn on multiple lights together and also saves you time.

Scheduling:

With the busy lifestyle people lead, they are usually hard-pressed for time. Hence, forgetting to switch off the geyser or air-conditioner is nothing new. The application allows you to create your personalized schedules according to which the appliances function. It, therefore, enables you to remain stress-free and focus on work instead of worrying about such trivial issues.

Final thoughts:

Remaining in touch with the current trend and implement relevant strategies has become the need of the hour. The digital era waits for no one and if you don’t upgrade, there’s a good chance you’ll be left behind your competitors.

Voice assistants- Enabling our home to listen

by Admin
1 comments

After a long day at work, all we wish to do is laze around instead of mundane tasks like adjusting the shades. Imagine getting home after a tiring day at work, then having everything turn on — from adjusting the lights to room temperature to playing music — on simple voice command. This is not a peek into the future, but the present. Though the connected or smart home market in India is in its nascent stage, it shows enormous potential. Voice assistants are an increasingly vital element in the smart home, providing interoperability platforms. They enable seamless control of the whole smart home.

The new generation of connected home appliances is deeply integrated with a voice-based smart assistant like Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa. With the growing sophistication and intelligence of smart home technology, these devices are becoming increasingly popular. Put simply; these devices are to the connected home what the brain is to the human body. They are the center point of the system that connects all essential functions. The entity itself would be of little use without it.

Voice assistants and smart homes:

By installing a smart hub that talks to your voice assistant, you can manage your smart home with just your voice. With your hands full of groceries, just talk to your home and let it do the rest. While their primary function is to respond to commands, in doing so, they also learn. The more a person interacts with voice-activated devices, the more patterns and trends the system identifies based on the information it receives. Then, this data can be utilized for determining user preferences and tastes, which is a long-term selling point for making a home smarter.

Recognizing the outstanding potential in this market, big brand names are vying for control. This has resulted in an increasing number of devices becoming compatible with more than one assistant. However, you must ensure to purchase devices from trustworthy companies such as Atom8. Their affordable and well-thought designs are made to retrofit into your lives seamlessly. Their products, such as Duo Switch8 and Quad Switch8, are compatible with Amazon Alexa, Google Home, and Google Assistant.

Voice assistants enhacing the smart home

Use cases of voice assistants:

1. “Set the thermostat to 72.”

You’ve just crawled into bed for the night, and the room feels too warm. You ask for the temperature to be lowered by a few degrees, and then drift off to sleep.

2. “Play rock songs from 1997.”

You can request and control streaming music and video, and which speakers you want to listen to.

3. “Turn off the living room lights.”

You can turn your smart lighting on and off, dim, and change the color of compatible smart light bulbs just by talking to your voice assistant.

Final thoughts:

Technology is continuously advancing and changing, and the voice assistant market will progress along with it. Even today, this technology is flourishing in both capabilities and popularity. With Atom8 products, reliability and affordability wouldn’t be an issue. Make your life more convenient, more comfortable, and relaxed by investing in their voice assistant compatible products.

Reasons why supporting local businesses is the need of the hour

by Author

India has the capacity to refocus on the right choice; it only has to agree on the vision of buying local.

Rohini Somanathan

Amidst the pandemic and consecutive lockdowns, PM Modi spoke at length about the government’s plan to make India self-reliant. His ‘Aatma Nirbhar Bharat’ mission urged people to go ‘vocal for local’ to help develop local manufacturing and businesses. This brilliant strategy is a calculated step to claim a position for India in the global power order. It is much needed in uncertain times like these where startups have negligible cash reserves.

For the first time in forty years, consumer spending has declined in India, owing to the COVID-19 crisis. From cutting back on extras to more prudent spending and budgeting, people inject a degree of caution into their financial habits. In a tense environment like this, local businesses rely on your patronage to stay afloat; every transaction is precious to them. The question is- How much of an extra effort are we willing to make for our economy from now on?

Why being vocal for local is important

In the last 70 years, we have failed to trust our indigenous entrepreneurs, industries, and resources. When we took the route of globalization after 1991, we handed the baton over to FDI, foreigners, and multinational companies. This new capital-based system invited economic inequalities and unemployment within our own borders, putting several local industries out of business. Now is the time to revive those industries that we took for granted and support them all we can. It is time to push economic policies that produce welfare, sustainable incomes, and help job creation.

Distinct identity of local firms:

One of the primary advantages of this initiative is that it will provide micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) a unique identity that has otherwise been the privilege of those who have substantial marketing budgets. Being the manufacturer and distributor, local businesses and startups develop a sense of personal touch with the area of business and their customers.

Rich resulsts on Google's SERP when searching for 'Vocal for local'
Disrupted Indian economy

Employment:

In every economy, the small local firms keep the engine running, but all someone can see from the outside is big corporations giving speed to the car. These small businesses provide immense opportunities in rural and semi-urban areas. Hence, giving a boost to them would thereby lift the weight of unemployment faced by the Indian economy.

Revival of the economy:

It would be too farfetched to change our buying habits post the pandemic completely. However, we must take the ‘Spend in India’ sentiment seriously, after knowing how much of a difference it makes when you buy local. This shift in consciousness would substantially help local businesses step up their game and contribute to our economy. This newfound appreciation for Indian products should not be limited to these few months but throughout your life.

Final thoughts

India has often restricted ‘local’ to products like papad, pickles, and handicrafts. They surely are indigenous products that will always be an integral part of our identity. However, we need to be the global supplier of the first and last resort. Our supply chains shouldn’t be exclusive; they have to carry maximum possible products and services on them.

The recovery and regeneration of the indigenous economy cannot happen without ‘Be Indian, Buy Homegrown,’ becoming the motto and practice of buyers. So, it is your moral responsibility towards our country to ensure that native creativity flourishes. Though India is certainly going through a tough phase, it will still shine due to its huge demand centers, and vast pool of educated talent. Moreover, the resilience of its entrepreneurs and the unflagging spirit of the Indian people is remarkable.

Reasons why you should switch to smart curtain controller

by Author
2 comments
Smart home bridges the gap between the digital world and the analog world in which we live our lives. It thereby makes your life easier, convenient, and relaxed. This cutting edge technology contains a communication network that connects different appliances in your house. It thus allows you to control every aspect of your home, be it the temperature, lighting, curtain, and much more with just the touch of your finger. One of the best ways to incorporate this smart technology in your home would be through smart window coverings. A smart curtain controller is a device that gives you absolute control over all the shades in your house with just a single touch. Let’s look at a few benefits of controlling your shades with a smart curtain controller.

Benefits of a smart curtain controller:

Remote control for your shadesEase of use:

The first thing to look at while investing in motorized curtains is the various control options. With companies such as Somfy, you can easily control the shades through your smartphone or remote control. Hence, adjusting the light in your room becomes so simple. Usually, on account of snags and manual errors, there might be a lot of wear and tear. With the use of efficient and high-precision motors, this technology protects and extends their life.

Scheduling:

You can program your curtains to open and close at different times of the day by setting smart schedules. This way, you can wake up to natural light instead of the alarm blaring every morning. Moreover, it would also help maintain your privacy. If you left them open before leaving the house, you could close them from anywhere in the world with the press of a button!

Creating a comfortable living environment:

Control your curtains through a single app
You may not realize how annoying the motorized shades sound, especially first thing in the morning. Companies such as Somfy and RM motors prioritize your wellbeing. Their motorized curtains are such that they do not make any irritating noise while opening or closing. The flexible soft start and soft stop make the curtain run lighter and quieter. This ensures that the serenity and peacefulness of your house are not disturbed. Moreover, this technology helps keep the curtains perfectly aligned, thereby creating an elegant ambiance.

Energy-saving:

With smart window coverings, you don’t need to worry about remembering to open and close your covers on a steady schedule. Since it will just be a part of your home’s functionality, you can ensure your energy bills are not getting out of hand with the help of scheduling. Moreover, it can make our home eco-friendly by eliminating energy drainage. This is a part of a wider transition to a sustainable, low-carbon future.

Easy installation:

The motorized wireless system is extremely easy to install. There is no need for any costly power connection. The curtains will work perfectly with a built-in battery that would last for long.

How smart curtain controller works

Somfy and RM Motors are two such companies that offer motorized automatic curtains, thereby combining comfort and elegance. These shades are made smarter with the help of Atom8‘s products, such as Duo Switch8 and Quad Switch8. The former will allow you to control two curtains whereas the latter will enable you to monitor four curtains at a time.
Voice command for complete control over your curtains
Not only are they very affordable, but you can also control it using voice commands. After a long day at work, most of us just want to unwind. We are too comfortable to get up from our place to draw the curtains. They are compatible with voice assistants such as Amazon Alexa, Google Home, and Google Assistant allows you to talk to your home and get your work done! Thereby, it will enable you to remain stress-free. Moreover, these products are robust, retrofit, and their installation is hasslefree. What’s more, you can access your smart devices from anywhere over 2G/3G/4G networks or any local WiFi connection.

Final thoughts

The integration of Somfy and RM motors with Atom8, therefore, gives you a complete home automation solution by providing everything on one system. With countless benefits of smart devices, investing in full home automation would be an excellent choice. It is imperative now more than ever to upgrade and accept newer technologies.

Home automation: Transforming our lives ahead

by Author
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Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. – Arthur C. Clarke

Recently, there has been a lot of talk about the ability of home automation to transform your life. With an increasing number of people around me, upgrading and investing in home automation, I was curious if it could really benefit me. On account of multiple positive reviews, I decided to adopt this smart technology as well. With so many options available in the market, feeling confused was bound to happen. However, Atom8, a leading company in this sector, was one that caught my attention. Seeing the numerous positive reviews it had on Amazon, I bought some of their smart products.

After having used these products for about a year now, I can say that it has been nothing short of a boon. Not only were they easy to use, but also cost-effective. They have surely made my life much simpler, and relaxed.

Home automation and comfort

With the busy lifestyle I lead, I am usually hard-pressed for time. Being a forgetful person, I never seem to remember to turn off the lights after me. I am often left wondering if I switched off the geyser after a bath only after I reach my office. This smart technology allows me to create my personalized schedules according to which the appliances function. It has, therefore, enabled me to remain stress-free and focus on my work instead of worrying about such trivial issues. I usually group multiple smart devices and have preset scenes to trigger them simultaneously. Even if I go for short work trips, my house seems to take care of itself with the help of scheduling.

Waking up to the aroma of freshly brewed coffee or switching on the geyser before I wake up is added bliss. Moreover, after a long day at work, all I wish to do is laze on the couch and unwind. Because of the voice assistant compatible smart devices, I can actually talk to my house. Be it dimming the light or changing the speed of the fan as per my liking; I can do it all without even getting up from where I am. This superior technology has proven itself beyond useful.

Smart technology and efficiency

With home automation, my utility bills have decreased significantly. The auto-power down modes and its power monitoring feature ensure that inactive devices do not waste energy. They keep me informed about how much power the appliances are consuming so that I know which ones need to be replaced. What’s more, it is eco-friendly and helps me do my bit in caring about the environment.

At first, I was hesitant about how these smart devices would look. However, Atom8‘s small devices that are retrofit and compact are such, that they disappear behind any switchboard hasslefree.

Control and automation

This system allows me to control and automate the devices. Because of global accessibility, I can access my smart devices from anywhere around the world with an internet connection.

Home automation and security

Security is one of the most important factors one needs to consider. I am strongly looking forward to automating my house completely in the upcoming months and remain care-free. As a user, I would prefer to purchase the surveillance system and digital locks from Atom8 only whenever they introduce them in the market.

Final thoughts

So, what I’m explaining here is, home automation has the ability to transform and revitalize your home or office environment. Whether that is improving the efficiency of mundane tasks, saving you money on your energy bills, implementing rudimental home security or just enhancing the wellness of a room, it can do it all.

There are many reasons I recommend using Atom8 products. Having first-hand experience of using their smart products, I can say that they are reliable and easy to use. I had no experience of using smart devices, but their step by step guide helped me configure these products easily. Investing in their products would give you a satisfactory experience. The comfort of being able to control your home through just a few clicks on your smartphone is truly worth experiencing.

Energy efficiency framework in smart home technology

by Author
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The rising prices of energy and environmental concern are the top priority of everyone’s agenda. Out of the power that an average household consumes, much of it is wasted. Our lifestyle habits such as forgetting to turn off the television or lights while leaving the room, worsen the issue. This makes energy efficiency a must. An increasing number of people are upgrading to energy-efficient products these days because of numerous reasons. A cutting edge technology that is now gaining momentum in India can be a boon for all of us- Smart homes.

The smart home technology is one that allows people to control their energy usage through various smart devices. You can turn off the appliances when not in use with just a click on your smartphone. If you forgot to turn off the air conditioner while leaving office, you could simply do that through the smart home application on your phone. Hence, it eliminates the energy drain caused by idling appliances.

Benefits of using energy-efficient smart devices

  1. Reducing your utility bills:

As a homeowner, energy expenditures can make up a significant portion of your recurring monthly expenses. With home automation, smart devices consume less energy throughout their service lives without sacrificing on quality. Hence, they are a remarkable way to save on your monthly energy costs.

2. Making your home eco-friendly:

As a global community, we have slowly started waking up to the stark reality of the environmental havoc we have created in the past decades. Today, we all have the responsibility of building a greener future for our planet. Smart appliances can make our home eco-friendly by saving on energy usage. This is a part of a wider transition to a sustainable, low-carbon future.

Best power-saving strategies

1. Scheduling:

You can easily design personalized schedules. This helps you control the time when the appliances turn on and off, be it dishwashers, geyser, coffee-maker, and much more. Setting such a routine allows you to stay stress-free and saves energy.

2. Using automatic power-down modes:

There are many appliances, primarily those that are remotely controlled, that consume energy even when they are not actively in use. By automatically turning off loads when not in use, the system can provide energy savings in homes and offices. Devices such as air-conditioners, gaming consoles, space heaters, dryers, and others may have this mode.

3. Operate appliances during off-peak times:

Appliances such as washing machines, dryers, and dishwashers often run at the same time in different households across an electrical grid. This creates a peak demand for energy during specific times of the day. With smart home technology, you can create smart routines to schedule appliances to run at that time of the day when the demand is low.

4. Save energy with voice controlled devices:

Smart homes allow you to control the devices with voice control via Google Home or Amazon Alexa. The devices that Atom8 offers, apart from being robust and retrofit solutions, are also compatible with voice assistants. This way, you can turn off any appliance when not in use, simply by talking to your home!

5. Power monitoring feature:

In order to take full advantage of the smart devices, you need to know which devices consume the most energy. This excellent feature keeps you informed about the power each appliance is consuming. This allows you to keep track of the appliances that consume more energy than they’re supposed to, and need to be replaced.

6. Artificial Intelligence Technology of smart devices:

With the help of AI technology, you can easily track all the activities of your device through a connected mobile application. It offers round the clock troubleshooting by monitoring the energy usage and usage patterns of the appliances. This allows it to make recommendations when any smart appliance is consuming more energy, or if it is inactive so that you can switch it off.

Final thoughts

Smart homes try to follow your living habits and get your home to be more in tune with them. It is no surprise that installing smart home technology in your home would conserve energy, up to 30-40% at times. Moreover, it will give you complete control over appliances like never before.

6Jun

COVID-19 and the ‘new normal’ of the Indian economy

by Author

All the major industries of the world are currently dealing with the devastating effects of COVID-19. Most of these effects are such that existing crisis plans and teams weren’t prepared to handle. From manufacturing to marketing, these few months have seen shifts in the way businesses operate in the wake of the deadly virus. The question on everyone’s mind is, ‘Will things go back to normal?’

The lockdown will have a sizeable impact on the economy, most significantly on the consumption- the biggest component of GDP. Businesses must navigate the financial and operational challenges of coronavirus while rapidly addressing the needs of their people, customers, and suppliers. These times of economic uncertainty and loss demand a deep understanding of the changing market conditions and government policies. Only then, can you manage the risks and ensure the continued health of your business.

Immediate future of businesses Post COVID-19:

  • Businesses to move towards variable cost models:

The pandemic would cause businesses to rationalize their costs. One significant way to reduce overall business costs is to convert fixed costs to variable costs wherever feasible. The businesses will now determine what they must keep in-house, and explore outsourcing the rest so that fixed costs can be lowered. This will also impact the labour force and ‘how they work’, contract manufacturing, etc.

  • Digital world to get a real push:

The global health crisis has disrupted traditional work patterns networks of economic interaction. While the trend of opting to work remotely was already in motion, they have now hit the fast-forward button. This forced experimentation with digital channels presents a real and immediate opportunity to drive efficiencies through digital media. At the same time, the pandemic has highlighted the significance of investing in enabling technologies such as cloud, data, and cybersecurity.

  • A major shift towards localization:

The COVID-19 pandemic las led to a disruption in the global supply chain. The ongoing recessionary climate in India is likely to lead to greater protectionism and risk aversion. Hence, experts assume that it would lead to more localization of supply chains, especially of essentials.

Sectors adversely affected by the pandemic

In India, the impact of the coronavirus pandemic is not limited to a few sectors but is evident across all stakeholders of the economy. However, some of the worse hit sectors are as mentioned below.

  • Tourism and hospitality sector:

This industry is at a screeching halt due to the lockdown since March. On account of the cancellation of international flights since March, there has been a massive loss of revenues, and jobs. It will be the last sector to see a resumption in activities on account of the hesitation of people to travel even after the lockdown lifts.

  • MSME sector:

The Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises, regarded as the backbone of all Indian sectors reel under crisis and have no money to pay to their employees. As they are often engaged in manufacturing and export activities, the lockdown has driven them out of business by stopping all production activities.

The aviation, automobile, and real estate sectors among the few others who have been hit equally hard by the pandemic. As operational strains deepen, workers have been asked to go on forced, unpaid leaves.

Key areas of focus for businesses post COVID-19:

  • Workforce:

As employees adapt to working remotely, businesses must provide the resources and lead with empathetic and effective communications. This would make them feel supported and is likely to boost their productivity. Assessing workforce costs is very significant to ramp up the recovery of your business.

  • Finance and liquidity:

During such economic uncertainty, managing the business’ cash and liquidity positions would be of utmost importance. The best way to assess the impact on your cash position would be to model the worst-case scenario and then make changes. Identifying the financial levers that might help conserve and generate cash would be of great help. Lastly, assess the resources your business needs to comply with the tax requirements.

  • Operations and supply chain:

Businesses can mitigate supply chain distributors. Identifying alternate supply chain scenarios should be the priority. This can help your business transition into what’s next.

  • Connecting with changing consumer habits:

The pandemic has had a sustainable impact on consumer attitudes and purchasing habits. Businesses need to introspect and realign their current marketing strategies to build strong long term relationships with consumers. A transparent and flexible customer service model would benefit most firms.

Final thoughts:

Though the government has announced several relief measures, most businesses are unable to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Though only five sectors need urgent help, other sectors are deteriorating as well. If companies take this time as an opportunity to plan better, it might benefit them.

2Jun

7 tips for ensuring productivity while working from home

by Author

You have power over your mind- not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.

-Marcus Aurelius

Has social isolation been taking a toll on your personal and professional life? Have you been feeling overwhelmed by the state of the world at the moment? The unfolding global health situation is sending an increasing number of people away from traditional offices. Many companies are implementing work from home policies- the new reality for a lot of people across the globe. The pandemic is forcing people into flexible work arrangements as the daily routines have been uprooted. The striking change has led to low efficiency, confusion, and general anxiety. For many of us, who are accustomed to the social work environment, this isolation might be a little daunting. Not only does it disrupt your work routine, but it may also strain your mental health.

As a result of the new environment everyone would be working in, a new approach to scheduling would help. Reorganizing and rethinking how you can attain the maximum results each day could boost your efficiency. Because of the deeply embedded patterns, you may take some time to adjust to the new environment. Here are seven practical tips to ensure productivity while you stay at home.

Tips while working from home:

Structuring your day:

For a lot of us, the lines between work and home have blurred in the current situation. As a result of this, we end up wasting huge amounts of time every day. Separating your work mode from leisure mode is the first step towards productivity. As things around us change, we must find ways to increase a sense of being in control. Designing an efficient schedule and following it would help you realign your time and give you a sense of purpose and clarity. Make sure this schedule is realistic and doable. This routine is imperative to keep a positive mind-frame and maintain a semblance of normalcy. It is the key to staying focused and enhancing your performance.

Dress up properly:

Under the abnormal circumstances of these times, working in your pajamas with scattered hair might be a tempting thought. However, giving in to this temptation might lower your overall productivity and waste a lot of time. Getting dressed might seem like a simple tip, but it is a crucial one. It makes you feel confident and boost your morale. Role-playing helps you get more results and draws the line between being at work and being at home. Feeling good about yourself is especially important in a time where you feel cut off from the real world.

Create boundaries:

Are you finding it difficult to work without interruptions at home? If your answer is yes, creating boundaries might be useful. It would help if you kept specific work hours in the day and fully disconnect from work at the decided time. If this does not happen, you may struggle to balance your work productivity and home life. It is important to note that you are in charge of the environment at home and have to treat yourself like an employee. This implies that self-discipline holds the utmost importance, and you need to hold yourself accountable for things you didn’t do right.

Designate a workspace:

For people habituated to going to the office every day, the separation between work and home is physical. While remotely working, your home office takes a whole new level of significance. You might want to recreate your workstation to feel comfortable. Hence, designating a workspace in your home, ideally with good lighting, could help get better results.

Know when to take a break:

Breaking up your day into manageable time blocks and taking a break in between could enhance your performance. At home, it’s easier to sit and work for hours on end. This can tire you out and send your productivity plummeting. At the same time, taking frequent, unplanned breaks might also prove to be an obstacle in achieving your goals. Scheduling your breaks as per your convenience could be a better option.

Balancing your social media consumption:

Do you open Instagram and mindlessly scroll till you realize you have pending work? Distraction is one of the biggest challenges that people face while working from home. In these testing times, social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and more act as facilitators of misinformation. These exaggerated claims and unverified rumors may lead to fear and panic among people. Moreover, it might affect your mental health and hamper your productivity. However, at the same time, if you follow reliable pages on social media, they keep you updated and informed about the world happenings. It is extremely important for you to balance your social media consumption.

Often, social media obsession, especially during home isolation, may interfere with your sleep schedule. Monitoring your screen time and getting a sound sleep can improve your productivity.

Communicate:

Keeping in constant touch with your seniors and coworkers can be a source of motivation and provide clarity. Moreover, this direct contact can curb miscommunication and reduce the social isolation that usually accompanies work from home. If you hesitate to reach out to the people you used to in the office, it might delay your work and create confusion.

Final thoughts

As you figure out your way through the new normal, remember that everyone has a different style of working. It could take you some time to figure out a system that works best for you. Incorporating the few changes, as mentioned above in your schedule, could help boost your productivity. Lastly, stay committed to your goals.

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