Demistifying Smart Homes

Math Munir or Munir Hasan is a legendary persona in the educational and technological field of our country. One of the founders of BDoSN and the head of Youth Programme of Prothom Alo, Munir Hasan works for the development of the young leaders with the motto - Technology to change the life. He is working on the progress of IoT in Bangladesh as well. We had the privilege to talk to him about our theme of this edition “Smart Home”. Here is what he has to say about the prospects of Smart Home and other IoT based products in Bangladesh.


IoT for BD: Usage of smart homes are increasing across the world. In your opinion, do you see smart home applications in Bangladesh reaching a substantial amount in the next few years?

Munir Hasan: In the next few years, it will increase a lot. It should increase by one to two percent in the next 3 years, especially in the urban areas. The Government offices are already using a few of these devices and more will be used soon. The next step will be taken by the apartments, where the involvement of smart switches may be seen, for example, lights will go off when no people are present in a room.

The next smart devices to be introduced are smart meters, which will continuously monitor electricity or gas consumption. By 2020-2022, we might see some houses in the urban areas involving such techs. Some municipality corporations will soon try to smarten up their streets. They might change the street lights, use solar power driven, smart ones. The cities may not be able to achieve this even by 2025, because a lot of data is required for making the system smart, a perfect infrastructure is required, which will still take some time. By 2022 though, we might be able to say that an individual household, a village, is smart, but unfortunately, the same cannot be said for a city. However, by the next year, some villages might be able to fully involve IoT in their power, water consumption and also in the agriculture sector.


IoT for BD: Out of the different smart home products, which do you think Bangladesh needs the most at the moment?

Munir Hasan: I think the IoT companies should concentrate on installations of smart home systems in small villages and urban areas instead of the big cities. An owner living abroad may want to bring the power usage in their house under own control. One example could be the control of a refrigerator. If the system learns the pattern of load shedding, it could control the operation of the fridge accordingly. It could even ask whether opening the fridge is necessary if someone were to try it.


IoT for BD: Smart home providers have to play a big part in convincing the people of Bangladesh to get adapted to this new technology. How do you think the providers should campaign to sell new products in Bangladesh?

Munir Hasan: While marketing these products, we have to keep in mind that in this case, seeing is believing. We have to find ways to properly present its application in the target groups. We have seen things like lights switching on when people walk by in TV, but we never showed much interest. As soon as a few offices started bringing this tech in, other offices also felt the need of doing so. So videos will not affect the community as much as practical examples of organizations around will.


IoT for BD: The price of products will play a huge role in how well the new technology is accepted by its users, and what the target customers of the products are going to be. Based on Bangladesh’s current financial situation, how should the products be priced so that both providers and customers benefit in the long run?

Munir Hasan: I think at the end of the day, smart home appliances will be cost effective. So let me give you an example. My monthly electric bill amounts to around 7000. If I can bring my home appliances, say, my fridge, TV, ACs, lights, exhaust fans, all under a single control circuit it will in turn save power and money. Even if this saves a thousand taka a month, by one year the amount that it took me to build or buy the smart system will have been earned.

Most households have plants in their balconies which may be watered using IoT devices during absence of the owner. The sensors involved here costs around 2.5 taka, so making this commercial will cost around just 2000 taka. So the people working with IoT should have a down to earth mentality.


IoT for BD: What roles could BDoSN and Prothom Alo play in fostering the IoT culture in Bangladesh?

Munir Hasan: Prothom Alo, as a reputed daily, will always be eager to publish any news regarding IoT and IoT based developments in our country. However, BDoSN has a bigger role to play in this regard.

BDoSN has taken initiative to create an “IoT Army”. Our goal is to produce 300 IoT engineers by the end of 1 year. We will organize training workshops, bootcamps and publish books to educate and upskill at least 300 people in this field. For this purpose, we need young people with engineering mindset and a little background on electronics. However, we are designing the course in a technique so that students from other majors can make themselves useful in creating a smart lifestyle for everyone.


IoT for BD: In overall, how do you see the prospect of IoT based services in BD?

Munir Hasan: The only reason why I am taking several IoT based initiatives in my limited lifetime is that I can see IoT dominating the industries as well as people’s lives in the future. If IoT did not have such a prosperous time ahead, there would not be so much buzz about it. The field of IoT has only started to emerge around the globe and we have a very crucial opportunity to engage in this field right away. If we do so, I believe, we will be able to create some fresh, innovative and skillful mindsets that will be of international standard. Take programming for example. The accomplished programmers around the world are now making their own languages. Sadly, I do not see that with programmers from Bangladesh because we already lagged behind by 20 years in this field. But we have a chance not to follow the same footsteps in IoT as the previous technological upgrades since IoT is only manifesting itself and we can get involved in it at the same pace as any other developed nation. Therefore, I believe IoT can be a big asset for in developing and upgrading our nation a great deal. 


IoT for BD: In which arena, IoT can make maximum impact?

Munir Hasan: IoT will impact almost every aspect in our life. However, given the infra-structure of our country, two particularly sectors can be hugely benefited from the practice of IoT. The first one is RMG (Ready-made Garments). The production efficiency of our country is 40% only whereas many countries have efficiency upto 90%. Inevitably, we cannot win the competition without the help of automation and smart devices. If we replace human labour with smart machines where possible, there is a huge scope of improving efficiency.


The second sector is agriculture. We still do not have any definitive use of agriculture science and technology which is very unfortunate. A few days back, I went to Manikganj and stayed there for 4 hours. Within that 4 hours, I noticed three farmers finishing harvest of only 100 square feet land. In the year of 2019, why do farmers still have to use sickle for harvesting? As you can see, there are lots of scope for improvement in our agriculture and IoT based devices can make a profound impact in this regard.


IoT for BD:  How youth can get more engaged and develop themselves through IoT based endeavours?

Munir Hasan: The only way for our youth to get engaged in IoT, to be useful for the society is to study. As long as they keep expanding their knowledge and increasing their problem solving and critical thinking capability, they will figure out methods of their engagement themselves. I have always encouraged the young people to study, to read and to learn about everything. As long as you keep learning about IoT and give back to the society what you have learnt, you are considered engaged in IoT based endeavours successfully.