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Smart home technology in Hamburg

Series: Digital change. Part 6: HAW's "Living Place" is scene of future research. Gadgets think in Apartimentum

Door locks that work per Bluetooth Low Energy, letter-boxes that indicate new post, a light guiding system that shows the way and an app that calls for an elevator. Baths that can be filled per remote control while a resident drives into the garage and the e-car connects with the “Mennekes” charging station. These are just some of the innovations to be presented by the landlord of Apartimentum and founder of Xing, Lars Hinrichs, when the building opens to the public in late July.

First tenants in September

The first tenants are due to move into the 20 apartments in September. Instead of rent, they will be paying a monthly flat fee from EUR 4,000 and utilities for the flat plus mod cons such as a Samsung 75 inch TV, Sonos Sound System, washing machine and dryer. The total costs of the project in Hamburg Rotherbaum come to EUR 35 million.

Research into future in “Living Place”

What seemed like science fiction hitherto has become reality in the smart home. Several intelligent applications are being researched just five kilometres away in the “Living Place”. The 140-square metre loft at the HAW Hamburg is fully equipped with smart home technology. There, students and postgraduates are testing digital solutions for work and living in real life conditions.

Sensors in bed and interactive bathroom mirrors

The smart home technology starts working early and, for instance, a sensor in a bed can tell whether the occupant has been tossing back and forth during their sleep. Then the system suspects a bad night with little or no sleep and selects a gentle, calming light acoustic mode to wake someone up. If it’s raining outside, the blinds remain shut and the light system simulates a sunrise to relax the person and put them in a better mood. A prototype of an interactive bathroom mirror to display news, weather forecasts, diary entries and emails is still being tested.

Work and living spaces merging

Professor Kai von Luck at HAW’s Faculty of Information Technology, said: “Thanks to digital networking, work and living spaces are growing closer together and the group of those who work partly from home is growing steadily.” Smart home technology tries to combine both worlds harmoniously in the event of a meeting for instance. A resident in the smart home lies down on the sofa half an hour before the meeting starts. Integrated sensors in the intelligent house dim the lights and switches on soft music – until the members of the project team arrive. Then the room becomes brighter as soon as the door opens.

Preparing for disruptions in the “Creative Space”

Small and medium-sized companies are alarmed by the idea of disruption. Von Luck noted: “More and more entrepreneurs are coming to us to find out about the latest research. And they ask very specifically: Where does danger for my company lie and how should I react?”

Those who wish to shape rather than merely react to the future can work on their visions in the “Creative Space for Technical Innovations”. The “Lab in process” complements the “Living Place” and gives firms an opportunity to tackle strategic questions. “The focus is on innovative ideas like the firm’s digital future and how products and customer relations can be adjusted”, said von Luck.

Students are also conducting research in the field of “Human Computer Interaction” (HCI). Von Luck explained: “One project on which we are working here is interpreting gestures”, adding, “A person positions himself somewhere in a room and can pull open and pull back the curtains simply by gesturing.” But this application is still in the early stages.

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