Tech Future | The Smart Homes

Welcome to the Future of Tech, where this time we will talk about the homes of the future, the smart homes. I’ll try to explain what makes a smart home. Some of the gadgets you can put in one and what the future challenges can be for our smart homes.

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It's early morning and your smart alarm is beeping. It has scanned your calendar and knows your sleep pattern, so it can wake you at the most efficient time.

By the time you get to the bathroom, the shower is running at your preferred temperature. As you brush your teeth, the toothbrush scans your teeth and schedules a dentist appointment to check a possible cavity if needed.

Overnight your car's charged from the solar cells and the roof turbine, that's on your house. It drives you to work while you catch up on emails.

When you get home, a drone delivery has brought some cold and flu medication, as sensors in your house detected a slight elevation in your temperature.

In 2020, According to an estimate, 31 billion devices connected to the internet. By 2025 it is estimated that number is in the vicinity of 75 billion and many of those devices are going to be in our homes, but

What is a Smart Home?

According to Oxford's Lexico, it is a home equipped with lighting heating and electronic devices that can be controlled remotely by smartphone or computer. However, the general community consensus is much more blurred and having a single smart device, in my book does not make a home smart.

How many devices do you need to make a home smart?

I guess you'd need more IOT devices, more smart lights, more humidity sensors, more robots, more cameras.

You need a collection of items that work together such as a weather station that informs the heater thermostat in your house.

Tech Future - Future Devices

Imagine lighting systems that knows when you're in the room and turns on and off accordingly. Climate controls that keep turning temperature, and knows the weather forecast to predict the most efficient way to heat or cool.

Tech Future - Security

Are you still using a key? That is so old school. The locks of your future smart home will either recognize your fingerprints. Or recognize another smart device that you have. This could be your phone or a relative’s phone that you grant access to over the internet.

But what if your whole house could just monitor itself? Using sensors, cameras and AI, it could report any abnormal activity to you or even the emergency services.

As the home learns about you, it can mimic your behavior with turning lights on and off and more when you're out. Security will be implicit rather than an explicit action, such as turning your alarm on.

Tech Future - Household Chores

Developments in robotics will give us machines that offer a helping hand with cleaning, cooking and more. Computer graphics company NVidia is working on a smart robotic arm that can act as its owners, personal sous chef, doing everything from slicing and dicing veggies to helping with cleanup.

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Tech Future - Health

So finally health. Your future smart house will look after you. Cameras and sensors in your refrigerator will suggest more nutritious alternatives, if you continue to go with cake. Similar technology in medicine cabinets, will check if you've taken your prescription pills.

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And sensors will even show up in toilets to check for signs of any potential health conditions by scanning human waste before it is flushed. Yeah, better a robot than me. Hmm. Homes will also look after their own health, they will check for issues like water damage, pest infections, and so on, letting you know to fix them before it gets worse and worse and much more expensive to fix.

Future Tech - Technology

Central to all of these devices working together in your future, smart home, is data collection, data analysis, and data interpretation, all to make them all work together.

  • What makes a home smart is what is done with the data it produces.

It's great and fun for the first 10 minutes that I can turn my office heater on from my phone, but it isn't smart. It will be smart when it will be automatically turning on the heater when I am likely to be in the office. And for that, we need to use cloud services.

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All of these billions of devices will send a constant stream of data and it has to go somewhere. The major cloud providers will be the key. The best cloud providers are:

  • Amazon Web Services (AWS)
  • Google Cloud Platform (GCP)
  • Microsoft Cloud (AZURE)

They are already offering services to collate and analyze huge collections of data. These would need it to find patents between various devices and inform opinions on what a smart house should do and when it should do it.

Challenges

One of the major challenges is keeping all of that data, transmission and access secure. Every device that's connected to the internet is a potential target for attackers. Cyber security will become all the more vital.

In 2016 attackers gained control over hundreds of thousands of insecure IOT devices. Then used them to send a bogus internet traffic to target websites in hopes of crashing them.

Integration

Another challenge for smart homes is integration.

I have a smart heater, smart lights, network attached cameras, a remote doorbell, and Google Nest devices. They all use different apps.

The future will have to sort this out and there are currently some projects making some headway in this space as well. It needs to be open box, plug in and go.

If all of this data is collected all the time, and it is stored in some cloud computing data center somewhere. And it is then analyzed and conclusions are derived. Where do we stop?

Users are actually aware of this and it is one of the major points of hesitation when connecting devices to a smart home. The challenge of preserving privacy while collecting data about everything we do is a tough one to crack.

Let me give you an example of what the future smart home will look like based on current concepts and prototypes.

  • The entry to your home will know who you are and let you in.
  • Your future kitchen will monitor your carbon footprint, help reduce food wastage and both grow and prepare your meals.
  • LG, Samsung, and GE all see future homes having their own veggie farm in the kitchen.
  • You will also have dedicated fridges.
  • One will maintain conditions for growing vegetables and herbs, one will be for daily items consumed, and there'll be one for only cake. That that's just me, hoping.
  • TVs will be able to track your body movement for following workouts or even display a virtual trainer in the room in front of you. These virtual assistants will be fully interactive and you can talk to them.
  • And the mirror will tell you all your vitals as well or you can try out that new shirt or hairstyle.

Conclusion

I love gadgets and I love it when technology makes my life easier or frees up time to do other things. I'm constantly changing my own smart home with that in mind. 

But I'm also acutely aware of the privacy and data breach concerns. Do you currently live in a smart home or do you have an opinion of what should or shouldn't be in a smart home? Start the conversation in the comment section below.

 

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