If Siri could see, would she care for me?

Apple recently revealed their interest in using motion sensors to observe users’ normal patterns of behaviour and provide better care for the elderly. Their proposed system takes account of the context, such as time, as well as behaviour – so it can do things like reminding somebody to take medication half an hour after eating breakfast.

It’s an excellent niche market, because it’s easy to imagine how such a system could be useful enough to justify the cost of the hardware. But in the future, most households will adopt motion sensors for the same reason they’re currently beginning to embrace smart home technology in general: to save energy.

Energy saving is the ‘killer app’ of home automation, because as well as the geeky pleasure of being able to remote control your house from the pub, it offers significant financial savings that easily justify the investment. Systems like British Gas’ Hive are already gaining popularity, but it’s more advanced systems such as Heat Genius that are leading the way by incorporating ‘zoning’ and motion detection.

How does it work? Put simply, Heat Genius learns when you use each room of your house and automatically control each radiators so that the room’s only heated when you’re going to use it. Of course there’s always the option to manually override the system from any web device, this unique fully automatic mode means turns it into a ‘fit and forget’ option. Ideal for the elderly, or indeed anybody with better things to do than reprogramming heating schedules.

Heat Genius will offer an open API, so others are sure to build on the system to offer additional functionality without the expense of new hardware. Obvious additional services include intrusion detection and security monitoring, or care monitoring services for the elderly and vulnerable. By the time Apple gets around to designing their new granny-friendly iHome, they might well have some upstart competitors who got there first.

Heat Genius team

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