Humanity has always been interested in the future. Science-fiction books and movies have been showing the wonders of future technical developments for centuries. Back to the Future (Part II, 1989) shows the great advances of technology in 2015, which we can compare to reality now. Home Alone 4 (2002), which is rather a comedy than sci-fi, shows what we call a “smart home” now. The curtains are closed, the heat is turned up, and the light is dimmed just by voice command. Smart home technology (or home automation) is used to refer to a system of devices connected via local network or the internet and used to satisfy the needs of home inhabitants. The term ‘smart’ is a contraction from Self-Monitoring Analysis and Reporting Technology. This includes the best home security systems, monitoring, analysis, and reporting of the devices stance, and ensuring the efficient use of resources. The very up-streams of the technology in its current guise go back to the beginning of this century.
Transformation of Automation: the IoT
Automation of devices within LAN-network has grown into wireless connection of various devices by means of Wi-Fi and internet. These networks are called the Internet of Things (IoT). They create a kind of separate interconnected ecosystem for the devices involved.
IoT provides communication between devices and special software. All these are provided by means of machine learning, embedded systems, real-time analytics, and commodity sensors. For instance, smart parking, automated security systems, or smart healthcare.
Interconnected devices are aimed at saving time and resources of their users. Though there already exist a number of successful products based on this technology (Alexa, Robot Rovio), the experts are constantly collecting data in order to improve the technology.
The SMART City Trend
The term ‘smart city’ has become kind of a buzzword recently. More and more cities try to turn to ‘smart’. The problem is that when defining smart cities, most people focus on the digitization of the city. However, the term is a lot broader than that because you have to consider the different stakeholders. Smart cities are rather sets of policies and strategies using technology and data to:
deliver initiatives that improve inclusiveness services and the quality of life for the people who live there;
drive efficiency sustainability improve decision making for the government and its operations;
- create a transparent, efficient and competitive environment for businesses
The Shape of Homes to Come
Two centuries ago living in a small flat was out of the imagination of ordinary people. Later, with the boom of globalisation, apartments have become one of the most popular places to live, while houses in many countries were prescribed to poor people. Nowadays, people live both in flats and houses of various possible floor space. We can’t claim that some particular form of home will prevail in the future, but it is quite obvious that more and more homes will be equipped with smart technologies in the near future.
Surely, there exist those, who believe in global conspiracy, the rule of masons, and other pseudo-scientific theories. However, new is always perceived as weird. Senior people can share their frustration about the emergence of robotic vacuum cleaners, but now a large scale of people use it. Smart home technologies are capturing the world. Yes, they are less spread in the developing countries, but once the technology becomes more affordable, it will become mundane.
The research proves that by 2022 about 500 smart devices are expected to be owned by each typical family in the US. Here are some of the technologies that one can use for improving their homes right now:
Hubs to Control SMART Homes
As noted above, ‘smart home’ systems are a network of connected devices, which can be controlled by means of a single device. Usually, people use a smartphone app for it. However, the Hub of such a system is just connected to a smartphone, this is not a smartphone itself. Some hubs might be also controlled by means of a special display, or additional keypad.
One hub can connect plenty of devices starting from smoke, fire, water and light controls, and finishing with fridges, locks, bands, and even cars. The ideal vision of such systems is interconnectivity between all the devices in the house. For instance, the central hub will connect to the Internet and find out that the city centre will be shut off, so it will wake you up earlier and turn on the boiler earlier to make sure you arrive at work just in time.
- Smart Home Display Devices
Smart displays are a new generation of devices that comes directly after smart speakers. It contains the same features as the speakers (the possibility to ask a question, check weather forecast, turn the music on or off, or control the security system), but the extended functions also allow you to watch videos, control the light level just sliding the pickup element on the screen, etc.
Smart technologies allow you to accustom your home directly to your needs. Previously, if one wanted to do a renovation, one needed to go to the furniture shops, to look through the catalogues, to pay a designer to draw a draft of the flat design, and so on. Later there were a number of improvements, including the possibility to shop online and organise video calls with designers. However, now it has become a piece of cake! There exists special software, which allows to create a virtual space with the dreamed design, to order the real furniture from the shops, and change the look of your flat in a couple of clicks.
As all the technical advancements, smart technologies start with the most helpful things first. All of us try to spend our time efficiently. Cooking takes a lot of time. Some people turned to eating in restaurants, but home cooking always takes the first place. Therefore, more and more people are using smart kitchens right now.
Smart fridges allow controlling the amount and quality of the food you have. You can choose a dish from a limitless list, and the fridge will send data to your smartphone to order the needed quantity of ingredients for it. Smart scales count calories and smartphones balance the diet automatically.
Smart ovens and cookers have digital thermometers, control time of baking, stewing, or boiling to the very minute, and fire controllers help to avoid emergencies. The most sophisticated gastronome can even use a 3D food printer to create all types of ingredients and décor they need.
In fact, many of the dreamed things have come into reality, as well as those, which seem never to do that. Human beings tend to make their homes more convenient for life than ever before. Technological advancements allow turning a house into an ecosystem intended for cherishing human comfort and satisfying human needs. Implementing smart technologies frees our time from routine chores, protects the environment, and provides us with the opportunity to enjoy every minute of life.