Imagine waking up in the morning before work. Your favorite music plays as you get ready to go into the shower. You ask your home to set a reminder for tomorrow. Coffee brews as you get dressed. As you head out the door, the lights turn off behind you, and the thermostat raises or lowers the temperature to be more cost efficient. On your way to work, you realized that you forgot to lock the doors, so you open your smart phone, and with a tap of the screen, your home is secure.
Sound futuristic? You’ll be surprised to know that much of that is already available, or will be soon.
The Smart Home
What was just described is a smart home. Smart homes are houses that have appliances, climate control, security systems, entertainment systems, even cooking/food devices and more, connected and controllable from both within and without the home. Through a time-schedule, mobile device, or other control means.
A smart home provides the comforts of home with convenience and efficiency. Anything that has running electricity, and can fit a computer chip can become a part of the Internet of Things within your home, the network of items that make your smart home smart.
What’s Already Here
Smart homes typically require some control device or a system that can manage your home. This is the primary device that communicates with the home and regulates the network. Typically it’s also the device that is keeping track of scheduled events, sending notifications, and receiving commands from the user.
Security Systems can now communicate with you, while you’re away from home. They can control lights, locks, and can even provide camera footage of your home directly to your mobile device or computer.
Even cleaning is readily done by your smart home. Vacuuming robots can autonomously clean your floors and can be controlled with an application on your phone.
Climate control is an important aspect of your home and can be a costly one, too. However, in a smart home, efficiency is an important part of the system. Smart thermostats can be controlled remotely or by your home’s network. The smart thermostat regulates the temperature automatically, or on command from an application, maintaining peak efficiency wherever you are.
Smart home robotics is also beginning to expand. Last year, Boston Dynamics revealed several robots capable of walking, balancing, and responding to physical obstacles autonomously. Just recently they unveiled a model, called the Spot Mini, which features a robotic arm capable of handling and balancing delicate objects. You can see it in action in this video.
Even the technology in our bathrooms is changing -- you might think a smart toilet is a bit of a silly idea, but you’ll be surprised! Already, they can do a number of things such as open up and close automatically, deodorize after use, provide heated seating and more, but it may begin to go a step further. Future designs are expected to be able to analyze your waste, and determine if you have or are at risk for health concerns such as diabetes.
And when you take all of these developments and put them in the context of other smart technologies in development at major theme parks, the future of technology in the home gets even brighter, as tomorrow’s homes may soon be able to detect your presence, identity, and behaviors, and then adjust lighting, climate controls, and even play your own music and start entertainment devices as soon as you walk in the door. While the home version may have more to do with your smartphone than a wristband, it will likewise be able to provide for our needs and wants before we even have them!