The future of home automation - PC World - 08/16
My home is not very smart. It does not know when to start my coffee or how to clean the floor. It has difficulty distinguishing between a roaring grease fire and a steamy shower, which makes it a good thing it can't remember the number to call in an emergency. The only interaction I have with the house is when I must dance the Macarena with the motion detector to get my outside lights to come on.
What will be in the smart home of the future?
I made the following predictions for the home of the future in 2005. How did I do?
|2005 Prediction||2015 Status|
|Waste removal||In the future, I imagine people will regard our current sewer system as ghastly, like we think of chamber pots being emptied into streets. Thanks to smart home technology, trash and other waste will one day be converted to something useful or at the least, harmless to you and the environment. How far out? Sit on it.|
|Ultrasonic showers||I'm not sure what I was thinking with this prediction. Cleaning with sound and water like jewelry? Or like in futuristic movies where they remove the H2O and apparently you get your clock cleaned with ultra-dry sound waves? I don't see that happening. Some day, there might be dry cleaners in the form of nano-towels that remove dirt, sweat and skin cells. This would be more likely, if there is a world-wide water shortage.|
|Beds that make/change sheets themselves||Dream on, dude. I have no excuse for this prediction, except that my dad would always say to me "lazy people make the best inventors".|
|Lighting creates artificial sunrise||These products are common now, but not in 2005 when I originally wrote this. Soon, this type of product will be connected to the internet of things and include sounds and scents.|
|Computer suggests clothing based on your taste, weather, etc.||This will arrive soon. It would have been a more accurate prediction if I would have said artificial intelligence, not computer.|
|Self washing, drying, and folding clothes||Not self-folding, but robot-folded. Self-washing and drying available now through nanotech fibers that very little sticks to, including dirt and liquids.|
|All surfaces are disinfecting and cleansing||This will be wide-spread soon, again thanks to nanotech surfaces|
|Intelligent/adaptable fabrics and clothing||You could say this industry has already started, but it will expand like your waistline when computers, sensors and power sources get smaller than a bedazzled rhinestone.|
|Printable homes||Already here, and the industry could be huge.|
|Self assembling homes||Doubtful, when you can print them instead.|
|Windows and walls will allow adjustable amounts of sunlight, warmth or cold in||Windows that can adjust opaqueness are here, but expensive. The adjustable insulation in a wall prediction might be sketchy (or itchy).|
|Personalized ergonomics||Not yet. 3D printing may help this industry get going.|
|Hanging house||Arrived, but not popular|
|Electronic soundproof rooms and windows. Soundproof energy fields that you can walk through||Not here. A long way off, if ever.|
|Hidden computers, sensors, microphones and electronics throughout the house. Central computer accepts voice commands, distinguishes between occupants for personalized responses and actions||Not here yet. But likely within ten years.|
|Computer tracks movements, turns on/off lights, adjusts temperature, etc.||Arrived, but expensive and not smart enough.|
|Computers, appliances, all electronics are networked and connected to the internet||Not here yet. But likely within next 10 years.|
|Monitor and control home appliances, computer, security from anywhere||Arrived.|
|Interactive mirrors display the latest news, weather and traffic information||Not here. But likely within 5-10 years.|
|Wall size video and audio||Arrived, but too expensive for most.|
|See-through electronics, screens, touch panels, haptic displays||Arrived, but expensive.|
|Computer lets you know when appliances need maintenance, can request repair dispatch||Not here. But likely within five years.|
|Television, computer and phone merge into one device||Well, the phones can be used like televisions and computers, but the TVs and computers are not popular as phones (which is what I meant in 2005).|
|All devices are connected||The internet of things is just getting started.|
|Walls, ceilings, (all other room surfaces) are digital screens.||Can turn room into any environment with sounds and smells - Not here. A long way off, but some day.|
|Replicators||For objects, 3D printers are a form of replicator. If considering replicating people, human cloning could happen in the next 10 years. Add brain downloading 10 years later, and you got yourself you.|
|House keeps record of things that come in to and go out of the house. Thus things are never lost in the house||A real product (for the phone)|
|Computer recognizes footsteps or other biosigns for personalization||Not here. But likely within ten years.|
|Shape-shifting or stow-away furniture||Not here. A long way off if ever. I have seen shape shifting homes, that make the most of living spaces.|
|Walls and fabrics that change color or pattern||Not here. But likely within ten years.|
|Small or zero environmental footprint of homes||Not here. But likely within 15 years.|
|Vehicle refueling station, electric, hydrogen||Electric fueling station has arrives, but it is expensive and not yet popular.|
|Wireless recharging of mobile devices when at home||Arrived and popular|
|Recycling waste water at home||Not here. But likely within ten years with new nanotechnology based filters.|
|Green (plants) roofs||Arrived for buildings, but not for homes.|
|Fast cooking - boil water in seconds, turkey in an hour||Magnetic Induction will boil water in 75 seconds. Turkey, not so much.|
|Recipe database||arrived, but not yet popular.|
|Robot/machine chef||Not here. There is robotic assembly line cooking. We won't have a real robot chef, before artificial intelligence can create an artist.|
|Instant inventory of food, medications, supplies||Not here yet. This will be a big part of the internet of things when it comes along.|
|House creates personalized diets||Not here yet. Will become popular when homes can converse.|
|House can replenish your groceries by ordering online. Auto-restocking||Just arrived.|
|Prepared food will be instantly teleported to the home and a universal credit card will be charged. The homeowner will simply specify with voice commands the specific food items requested||What a hungry dreamer I was.|
|Virtual medicine. Doctors can treat you at home, from their office||Arrived, but not yet popular. Near-future remote diagnostic devices will make this a better health-care choice.|
|Home computer monitors your health through tiny, invisible, wireless wearable computing devices||Not here in ubiquitous form. But possible within next 15 years.|
|Cleaning robots||Mainly for the floor. Robots operating any higher pose a danger to humans and porcelain vases.|
|Personal care robots||Now being introduced in Japan.|
|Pet robot||Available now, but not that popular. Current Ai is not good enough to fetch the emotions a real pet can give you.|
|Biometric screening devices for secure entry||Fingerprint, retina scanners and the like. They are available, but too expensive for most home security.|
|Automatic emergency response||Not here. I'm fairly certain I meant without pressing a button.|
|Desktop nano-factories makes products at home||Not here. 20+ years out.|
|Virtual reality room (holodeck)||Not here. 20+ years out.|
|House retrieves the mail||What's mail?|
Not bad, eh? I'll tell you the secret to my successful home technology predictions is to never get locked down to any specific time in the future. I can't wait to do this again in 10 years!
Engineering the Smart Home
In creating the home of the future, engineers seek to understand what technologies are best suited for the home and how much technology its residents can tolerate.
Research is mainly being done in these areas:
Health - Monitoring your health, with emphasis on assisting the elderly.
Networking - Connecting occupants and everything else in the house together
Interfacing - You and technology living with each other in harmony.
Pervasive Computing - Tiny processing devices everywhere.
Environment - Reducing environmental impact.
Energy - Every home produces its own energy.
Robotics - Robot assisted living. Cleaners, caregivers and companions.
One way researchers test futuristic home ideas is to build a smart home, then invite people to live in it. Technologies for the smart home are being tested in living laboratories like these: