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First the Smartphone Now the Smart Home: What’s Next?

6/21/2013 3:31:00 PM

Tags: smart home, smartphone, David Glenn

modern houseHomes sure have come a long way. From caves to huts to shacks to houses, the evolution of the modern home mirrors the evolution of the modern human nicely. And as our species continues forward into the digital information age, our homes are following suit. Where once our televisions, climate control, lighting, and appliances all functioned as simple standalone systems, now everything is becoming a part of a larger matrix of Wi-Fi communication and smart technology. And as with any good insurgency, the digital revolution seems to be gaining speed. So I hope you’ve gotten used to your smartphone, because here are a few smart home automation gadgets that have become relatively common place, and a few things that we can expect in the future.

What’s available?

Thermostatthermostat

Probably the first “smart” device to be marketed in homes, the thermostat was invented way back in 1883. Its function is simple: to monitor inside temperatures and activate heating/cooling systems to maintain them at a desired point. And although the specifics of the thermostat have gone through some periods of redesign, the overall function hasn’t changed. The modern smart home does make a few important alterations, however. Take the Nest thermostat, for example. While it easily handles the basic thermostat duties, it can also learn your temperature preferences as you use it. If you turn down the heat in the morning before you head off to work, but like to turn it back up at night, Nest can remember these proclivities and build a schedule around them. And like most new smart technology, Nest can be controlled through your mobile smart device.

web towerTelevision

There was a time when you would have to rush home if you didn’t want to miss something on TV. Now, nearly everyone has automatic digital video recording (DVR) devices that can store over a hundred hours of television for later viewing. TiVo has become so commonplace, that the corporation name has actually become a verb meaning To record using DVR. But while many modern homes make use of this technology, a few are taking it towards its logical conclusion. Cloud based storage allows for a greater number of hours to be recorded, and Wi-Fi connections make it possible to direct—or even watch—recordings on mobile devices. Many smart televisions can even perform some of the duties of a home computer, such as internet browsing or online gaming. Apple TV is a digital receiver that can play internet based media, and can wirelessly connect to various other peripherals.

Security

But what use is it keeping a home comfortable and entertaining, if you can’t also keep it secure? New electronic locks are only the first step in smart security options. For real protection, one needs to fully embrace the capabilities of modern technology. Home security packages can supply homes with motion sensors, alarms, locks, centralized control panels, and mobile apps to control it all. When used in conjunction with other smart home technology, such as lighting, the home can become an impregnable fortress of smart technology. The true technophiles might prefer to live the future today, with retinal scan locks and smart remote security cameras.

Energy reduction

Technology is rapidly creating opportunities for businesses to conserve energy and reduce emissions output while maintaining and even boosting production capabilities.  There are automated warehouses and shipping systems, that are run purely by energy efficient machines. These types of warehouses not only ship, but also manufacture the common gadgets we use daily, providing us with convenience and comfort not known before. Home automation is one of them.

Perhaps the most pleasantly surprising aspect of smart home automation is its eco-friendliness; there are many different gadgets on the market to help you reduce the amount of electricity your smart home uses. One such item is the Savant. It basically acts as the very-environmentally conscious brain to your smart home. It monitors power consumption, allowing users to see specific information on different areas of the house and different types of power drain, and permits homeowners to alter power flow at any time. Other gadgets such as smart power strips help reduce the electricity that is wasted from phantom power drain (the power that is used by plugged-in, yet not turned-on appliances). When used in conjunction with other common smart home devices, such as lighting and climate control, users can really cut down on the size of their carbon footprints. Or, one could just skip that whole snake pit and install alternate energy solutions such as solar panels.

A few years ago, no one would have believed the amount of useful gadgets that we would one day have incorporated into our mobile phones. But progress marches on, and as the smart technology proliferates, we can expect to see newer, more innovative gadgets appearing all over the place. New advances such as Google Glass will undoubtedly change the world just as quickly as the smartphone did. Who’s to say what the home of the future will be like? Will we even have touch screens and computer monitors, or will monitoring and control be accomplished through augmented reality interfaces? Will advances in hologram technology allow us to not only watch TV, but to also become a part of it? Will completely voice controlled computers such as Ubi finally give our homes a voice? No one can say for sure, but one thing is certain: the home of the future is going to be as different from the home of the past as modern humanity is from the Neanderthal. 



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