As Vietnam’s economy continues to boom and incomes increase, residential developments in major urban areas such as Ho Chi Minh City are becoming ever more upscale.
Real estate brochures frequently advertise luxury apartments and condominium projects featuring amenities and services once only found in the world’s wealthiest cities. Some now offer varying levels of smart home features, allowing residents to control their living space digitally.
This is one of the many research areas of Dr Ilya Kavalchuk, a lecturer at RMIT Vietnam’s Saigon South campus.
Dr Kavalchuk recently took part in a televised discussion about smart homes, along with four other experts in the fields of economics and property development.
“The discussion about how to integrate smart homes is happening now in Vietnam with [topics like] the benefits this technology might bring, and also how developers are utilising the technology, how people are adapting to that, and so on,” he said.
Currently, he explained, smart home systems are only available in Vietnam in the highest segment of developments, and are mostly related to safety and security. Cost and the ability of these systems to perform as advertised, meanwhile, are major concerns.
“These systems are very sensitive to power quality and stability, so when you build a smart system for security you need to be very careful about how they will be integrated, and what I’ve heard from developers is that people don’t want to pay extra for this feature because they’re not sure how it could be used,” Dr Kavalchuk said.
Additionally, many new apartments in Ho Chi Minh City are being bought by investors who don’t intend to live in them, so they aren’t interested in the technology.
However, the RMIT lecturer does think this industry will continue to grow in Vietnam.
“This technology will grow more and more, but as part of upgrading infrastructure instead of building. So people will get smart security systems, but on an existing house instead of buying a new one,” he said. “Also, the more money people have, the more they will care about safety and energy efficiency as well, and smart home systems save a lot of electricity.”
It may be some time before smart home systems reach their full potential in Vietnam since a supporting ecosystem isn’t in place yet. “A proper automated system will cost much more, but some of that isn’t here yet,” Dr Kavalchuk explained. “For example, a smart fridge that can scan your food, order more and get a delivery of ingredients.”
Nonetheless, this means there is ample space for those interested in working in the smart home field. Students considering this industry need skills such as power analysis and power development, as well as a mix of electronics, communications and IT.
“You can’t do IT or software engineering without proper electrical engineering,” the lecturer said. “It would not make sense to do these systems without power.”
Story: Michael Tatarski