Homey: Taking Intelligence Home

Name: Robert Sassen
Organisation: Athom

In recent years the number of wireless devices per household has been rapidly increasing. Not just phones and tablets, but wirelessly controllable devices such as robot vacuums, curtains, sunscreens, thermostats, lighting, speakers, even water kettles. While each device individually is designed to make life easier, these devices combined result in an inconvenient mess of remotes and smartphone apps. The young Dutch company Athom created a smart home controller named Homey to eliminate the clutter and allow multiple different devices to be combined in order to fulfill a single desire expressed by the user.

This talk will be about the various opportunities and challenges of using intelligence to improve the smart home experience. One interesting opportunity lies in natural language processing, as Homey can be controlled using speech. Athom's focus has been not to work with predefined phrases, but to allow the user to phrase a command in a way that seems natural to them. In addition to speech we will look at computer vision applications and the possibility to predict what actions the user may desire.

At the same time several challenges arise by taking AI out of the lab and into the living room. These challenges include public perception of AI, security concerns and ethical implications. It also proved a challenge to design a system that can continuously be improved and expanded while remaining easy to understand for both Athom's developers and developers in the Homey community.

Picture of the speaker