The Tech Moves

What Ever Happened To The Smart Home? Is It Dead?

You may recall that just a few months ago, smart homes were all the rage. Every single appliance, light bulb, and solar panel was set to become intelligent. We were supposed to be entering a world in which merely uttering our desires to our fridges automatically ordered food, delivering whatever item we wanted to our front doors in a matter of minutes.

But back in October, there was a massive hack. It turned out that homes, like cars and computers, could be compromised by malicious individuals intent on destruction. So bad was the fallout from these hacks that the smart home, as well as the rest of the IoT, has fallen somewhat by the wayside. In fact, things are now so bad that the outgoing Obama administration is offering $25,000 to anybody who can make smart homes more secure.

But, as with all things in technology, progress has a habit of continuing, no matter how bad the PR situation might be. These last few months we’ve seen some remarkable advances in the technology in our homes, driven by a growing cadre of smart energy companies and Silicon Valley behemoths.

Voice Control Home

Most of us are used to voice control on our phones, and some of us are used to it in our cars, but it’s only in the last few months that we’ve had the option in our homes. Now products like Alexa from Amazon are reshaping how we manage our homes, moving us away from smart thermostats and towards something altogether more sophisticated. Alexa is actually an AI that you can have a normal conversation with. She’s helpful and will do your bidding, including turning the lights off, playing your favorite songs and answering your questions about what’s on your schedule tomorrow. All in all, she’s set herself up as the focal point of the home, and given how easy she is to install, we’re likely going to see a lot more of her in the future.

Home Integration

Right now, modern homes are a messy amalgamation of different systems with no defined center or brain. But in the future, that’s all going to change. In fact, it’s changing already. What are solar electric panels used for? Most people would answer that they are used to provide electricity for the home, but today, they’re also being integrated with other systems, including batteries. In the future, solar panels, batteries, water tanks, heating systems – even your hair dryer – will all be controlled by one integrated system.

Already we’re seeing companies trying to make these “brains” that connect all parts of the home, but we’re most likely going to see them become more and more consolidated in products like Alexa. Everything will be controlled via WiFi, and everything will connect to a voice control unit homeowners can use. If it’s cloudy outside and there isn’t much juice coming from the solar panels, homeowners can instruct their homes, using voice, to go into “eco mode.”

We’re also likely going to see touch panels performing a similar task, especially since LG’s recent showcase of the “wallpaper TV” at CES – a TV only 2.8mm thick.

Far from being dead, it looks as if the smart home is very much alive. But it’ll be going under a different guise from now on.

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