Safe Smart Houses: Soon You Will Live in One Too

The team starting working on their idea towards the end of 2015. Since then, the developers created a working prototype, a miniature two-storey house with lighting, ventilation and heated floors controlled by a smart phone, which they presented in Prague. They've also developed a spin-off project, "smart-climbing" during ITMO University’s Future Technologies Accelerator and also spoke at GEEK PICNIC.

“Some time ago a potential client compared our project with touch screen phones at the very beginning of their introduction to the market. They were complicated to use and as a result were not very popular. But when Steve Jobs brought them to the market, touch screen phones forced out push-button phones. Smart houses, likewise, need a simple, brilliant and safe technology. This will trigger the process“, – mentioned the head of the project, Ekaterina Bessonova.

According to Denis Nevmerzhitskiy, “smart house” technologies are used in many countries, including Russia. But these technologies have some disadvantages: they are expensive, they often have foreign patents and they are not protected from external attacks. Due to these factors, our ITMO developers focused on important safety principles during their research.

The cost of existing systems vary broadly, the starting price in Russia is close to half a million rubles, and can cost up to much more. As such, the team believes that installing "turn-key" systems for a full housing estates will be much more advantageous for potential clients. The team is still working on “polishing” their technology and so it is not yet on the market.

Smart house technologies can be applied to various settings, for example, “smart climbing” which the team received second place for at Demo Day arranged by the Future Technologies accelerator at ITMO University. Also, from the beginning of the next academic year, one of the lecture theaters at ITMO University on Lomonosov street will become “smart”. Ekaterina Bessonova, who came up with the idea believes that if it is successful, many progressive universities will want to to equip their lecture theaters with similar technology.

“In one of the lecture theaters at ITMO University on Lomonosov street we will use concepts from the safe smart home. Using smart sockets and transmitters, we can control the projectors, adjust the curtains, heating and much more – all with just a smartphone" – says Sergey Simonenko.

To achieve a higher level of security, the team of developers have employed their own protocol. Current systems lack the necessary data encryption. Sergey Zimnenko notes that the final encryption algorithm they chose was based on results of his final research project. The protocol consists of three parts: routing within the network, encryption and automation. The last component is the most important and laborious one, which Aleksey Silayev is responsible for.

Denis Nevmerzhitskiy says that the speed of market penetration depends on the growth of the team and financing of the project, so the project is always open to new talented developers. As for the funding, Nevmerzhitskiy thinks that sufficient funding will help to develop the "Safe Smart House" concept to the perfect level in the next few years.

The team is currently working on the safe smart network, and also the concept of a smart socket. The smart socket can be controlled remotely. One of the developers explains how “it is very convenient for if you are in that classic situation when you forget to unplug the iron. Through the internet you can control the situation and unplug the device. Or for example, when it's cold outside and you’re on your way home, you can turn the kettle on remotely so you can have a hot tea when you get in.”

Presently the team is working on the protocol upgrades for possible usage in larger networks with a huge number of connected devices. Furthemore, encryption is enabled in the network as a default element which means that attackers won’t be able to take control of the house.

“We are moving toward full automation. So that people who are paying such high prices can easily work with the system without having to dig through instruction manuals,” explained Alexey Silaev.