The (Not So) Smart Home of the Future

  • Posted on: 16 February 2015
  • By: admin

Telematics and the Internet of Things (IoT) means that our world is changing rapidly and it can sometimes be hard to keep up with alal the new technology available to us.  Here at Interactive Communications we like to keep our finger on the pulse of this brave new industry and we’re always on the lookout for news and views that we can pass on to our readers so that they’re well informed about what’s going on.  We’ve already written about predictions in the telematics industry for the coming year and one of the most important developments is the Internet of Things.  This is set to change the way we live, not just at work, but also at home and  when we travel.  In fact, it will change just about every aspect of our daily lives as the IoT expands.    Today we’re taking a look at smart homes – what they are, how they’re meant to work and how they are actually working right now.

Smart homes are those that have been automated.  Home automation may include centralised control of lighting, heating, security locks and appliances and its popularity is increasing as we move towards a more “space age” way of living.  A home automation system integrates all the electrical devices in a house with each other and can include:

  • Home appliances (refrigerator, cooker, coffee machines, kettle, washing machine, etc.)
  • Domestic robots that clean the home – think Roomba
  • Automated lighting systems that can change to suit the mood
  • Automated heating/ventilation systems that are set to provide an optimum temperature at all times no matter what the weather outside is doing
  • Automated pet feeding and watering systems
  • Automatic watering systems for house plants and gardens

It’s pretty easy to see how home automation would benefit us, making our lives easier and more comfortable.  However, attaining this may be quite a challenge.  While new buildings are being constructed to include the channelling and space that will be needed to house the super fast broadband speeds necessary for the IoT, what about older buildings?  Existing homes and buildings will need to have these automated systems retrofitted in order to keep up to date with all the mod cons we expect life to provide us with nowadays. 

While we can all imagine just how easy life would be in a smart home of the future, today’s smart homes are the pioneers of this new, automated way of life.  As with everything new, there are sure to be some “teething problems” – issues that will need to be dealt with in order to make smart homes a viable reality. 

We came across an article on Gizmodo recently that highlights some of the problems being faced by smart home owners right now.   The title of the article just about says it all –  “Why is My Smart Home So F***ing Dumb?”  Writer Adam Clark Estes spent six months installing Wink components in his home, programming light bulbs, adjusting shades and installing sensors in a bid to impress his friends with his super connected home.  However, it didn’t quite go to plan and the first time he tried to wow a bunch of mates when they came round to watch a film with him.  You can read about the hilarious experience here and sympathise with his frustration at performing even the simplest task by tapping on his smart phone.  So far it’s been easier to walk across the room and manually flip the light switch than it has been to use the phone to do so. 

 

No doubt as more and more gadgets are specifically designed to interact with the IoT and as the software used to control these gadgets becomes more sophisticated (and more efficient), these teething problems will become a thing of the past.  In the meantime, we’re probably going to be stuck with walking across the room to switch on the lights just as we’ve always done.