Novel pervasive scenarios for home management: the Butlers architecture

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SpringerPlus 3(52), pages 1–30
January 2014

Many efforts today aim to energy saving, promoting the user's awareness and virtuous behavior in a sustainability perspective. Our houses, appliances, energy meters and devices are becoming smarter and connected, domotics is increasing possibilities in house automation and control, and ambient intelligence and assisted living are bringing attention onto people's needs from different viewpoints.Our assumption is that considering these aspects together allows for novel intriguing possibilities. To this end, in this paper we combine home energy management with domotics, coordination technologies, intelligent agents, ambient intelligence, ubiquitous technologies and gamification to devise novel scenarios, where energy monitoring and management is just the basic brick of a much wider and comprehensive home management system. The aim is to control home appliances well beyond energy consumption, combining home comfort, appliance scheduling, safety constraints, etc. with dynamically-changeable users' preferences, goals and priorities. At the same time, usability and attractiveness are seen as key success factors: so, the intriguing technologies available in most houses and smart devices are exploited to make the system configuration and use simpler, entertaining and attractive for users. These aspects are also integrated with ubiquitous and pervasive technologies, geo-localization, social networks and communities to provide enhanced functionalities and support smarter application scenarios, hereby further strengthening technology acceptation and diffusion.Accordingly, we first analyse the system requirements and define a reference multi-layer architectural model - the Butlers architecture - that specifies seven layers of functionalities, correlating the requirements, the corresponding technologies and the consequent value-added for users in each layer. Then, we outline a set of notable scenarios of increasing functionalities and complexity, discuss the structure of the corresponding system patterns in terms of the proposed architecture, and make this concrete by presenting some comprehensive interaction examples as comic strip stories. Next, we discuss the implementation requirements and how they can be met with the available technologies, discuss a possible architecture, refine it in the concrete case of the TuCSoN coordination technology, present a subsystem prototype and discuss its properties in the Butlers perspective.

keywordsHome management; Ambient intelligence; Energy saving; Coordination infrastructures; Multi-Agent systems; Pervasive computing; Gamification; Smart homes; Smart living