So how is smart home tech going to change our household and why?
You might say that technology hasn’t changed your life that much over the years and that’s probably true from a certain perspective. The techno-geeks seem to sprout about how a new type of technology is coming out and your life is never going to be the same again. But as the years unfold the technology may not be adopted or it just doesn’t live up to the expectations that we all had when it was sold to us. I don’t want to pick on anyone but Google Glass does come to mind along with 3D TV. Possibly robot vacuum cleaners have been adopted by some. Anyway, I’m sure you can think of many other examples. The point is that technology just doesn’t always hit the mark when it comes to what the general consumer wants.
Putting the details aside though, I do feel we are entering into a new age of technology where the intensity of innovation and growth is going to speed up at an even more rapid pace. While these previous attempts of unveiling technologies before their time may seem incidental I anticipate they will swing back around, more refined, more relevant when the timing is right. My feeling is that over the coming years the change is going to be more consistent and stronger. Industries that previously have been unrelated or segmented converging in a new and different way. To give an analogy, like water rushing down from the mountains during the rains to carve new channels and rivers due to a greater volume of water. It’s like technology before now has been mere streams of water trickling down and now it’s about to form a river, then an ocean!
What’s in store for future home technologies?
Future home technologies will increase the emphasis on the word smart in the smart home. Smart is the part that has artificial intelligence (AI) powering the device, motor, robot or whatever it may be. AI implies a brain of sorts that’s making decisions and learning from the interactions that we have with the system.
While a lot of smart home devices will be responsible for the tasks they are given, whether that be cooking dinner, washing clothes, cleaning the house there will be more emphasis over time given to a central intelligence of the home that orchestrates all these devices into a meaningful whole. We are already seeing this with home assistants like Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home. However, I do feel we have a long way to go with such devices until the interaction with humans is a lot more natural and human-like. Rest assured though, it is coming. Although we’d want to hope these systems don’t end up like HAL from 2001 A Space Odyssey!
The Internet of Things
Just a quick word on the “Internet of Things” (IoT) because it’s a term that’s handy to know and understand as it’s all related to these future home technologies. It is essentially an umbrella term to describe all these smart devices such as lights, vacuum cleaners, fridges, televisions, or “things” and how they exchange data with other devices over the internet, hence the internet of things. Generally, communication is made via WI-FI either to your computer or a cloud server where you can adjust your settings. An example of this is with smart lighting when you might want to set an automated routine for your lighting to go on at a certain time or trigger via a sensor when you walk in the room. With the internet of things, all these instructions are transmitted via the internet from the device back to the central system.
Future home technologies that are just around the corner
Here’s a list of the types of things we are likely to be seeing around the home in the not too distant future. Products that are either available in limited production, on the showroom floor as upcoming product releases or products being currently tested in the lab. So these items are more than just an idea.
Doors with face and hand recognition to let you in the front door. A visual display for information like weather, notifications, and more. A security-conscious valet door to put deliveries inside. A camera to view who’s behind the door displayed on the door’s surface.
A fridge where you tap on the door to see what’s inside. The AI monitors what food and drinks you are low on with the ability to reorder to replenish supplies.
Robot Chef – Bot Chef
The Samsung Bot Chef could be cooking dinner for you in the future. They are robot arms that utilise everyday cooking products to prepare you a home-cooked meal.
Besides the robot chef, there are other kitchen technologies that offer guided assistance when cooking. Such as monitor display on the cooktop itself and kitchen bench. This assists the cook to add the right ingredients, weights and heating times during the cooking process allowing anyone to be the perfect chef.
Smart Body Measurements
A comprehensive range of body measurements can be scanned by the LG Thinq Fit collection. It can make exact measurements for height, weight, neck, shoulder-length, chest, waist, hips, arm length and leg length. The system scans the body to make it easier to buy clothes with the perfect fit when placing an online shopping order. To add, you can create an avatar of yourself to virtually try on new clothes to see what different clothes will look like on you before making a purchase.
Smart Washing Machines
Auto-sensing smart washing machines. Just throw your clothes in. The AI senses what sort of fabric your clothes are to determine the type of wash to proceed with. Also, the clothes are weighed to decide how much detergent to put in the wash.
Smart mirrors display important information such as the time, notifications, etc. You can interact with the mirror much like a computer tablet screen. A good example of this is the Séura SMART Mirror that will actually display a full computer screen on the mirror that you can interact with. suggestion on what clothes to wear
Smart Mini Dishwashers
An interesting smart home invention I thought was interesting is the HeatWorks Tetra mini dishwasher. It’s a very small dishwasher that sits on the countertop and doesn’t need any special plumbing taps to hook up. Super efficient using only 1 gallon (3.8 litres) of water in a 15-minute wash. Who knows, maybe conventional dishwashers are due for a big design shakeup!
Getting the temperature exactly right for you. Reducing the amount of water used while improving the showering experience. Livin is a company that makes smart showers in this space.
Toilets that clean themselves. Provide heating, light and give you a refreshing squirt for the finale. But probably what most interesting is it would appear coming in the future is the smart toilet’s ability to analyse your feces and urine for potential disease. Yep, it’s a thing. When you think about it, the concept makes sense really as this is what medical labs do to screen for certain diseases. It could be a good front-line alert to seek further medical attention. For further information see this c|net article This smart toilet recognizes your butt and analyzes poo for diseases.
Smart lighting is already commonplace. One of the popular systems made by Philips, Philips Hue. Although I can see as we progress along this path a lot of new housing builds will gravitate to smart lighting systems in construction.
Drone Package Deliveries
Well, I guess we’ve all seen the hype around drone deliveries on the news. Amazon with aspirations of delivering your parcels. I think once they get clearance with the regulating authorities regarding our safety we’re going to see a lot more of this in the future.
Some home technologies that are already here
Self Driving or autonomous cars. These have had a lot of coverage on the news so most people would be quite familiar with their presence.
Augmented Reality Glasses. See a digital overlay through your glasses. The long-anticipated Apple Glass I think will be the first product to mass popularise this technology.
Robot vacuum cleaners are already commonplace now. They appear to have some degree of adoption, although I can see not the most popular vacuum cleaner style on the market.
Is having all these home devices hooked up to the internet safe?
This is one of the concerns going forward into this hi-tech future. Running alongside these advancements is the dark side of cybercrime. While there’s the convenience of all these wonderful technologies in the home, there’s always the threat of either some sort of external attack over the internet, eg viruses, malware or a breach of privacy. Both are a very real concern and no doubt that the privacy debate will continue well into the future.
My personal opinion on computer security is that the general populous that choose to go down this technological path need to be educating themselves more. Taking responsibility for the lifestyle they choose and the dangers that come with it. There’s never a free ride and this could very well be the aspect that grounds us to reality.
Is technological change really needed?
Some would say that technological change is inevitable and there’s nothing you can do to stop the push forward. I would tend to agree, however, there are things we can do to approach this change so it doesn’t become a negative in our lives. The household is personal so our privacy needs to be protected. Just the same, AI suggestions and recommendations, while helpful, need to be seen objectively. It requires vigilance and knowledge so these future home technologies do not take over our innate ability to reason and make decisions for ourselves. My viewpoint is to embrace the freedom technology brings while simultaneously being the master of your own household. Don’t let a vacuum cleaner tell you what to do!