Are we in the future yet?

In my presentation last week, I discussed the fascinating world of the Internet of Things in healthcare; however, since IoT covers such a vast range of uses and industries, I thought I would talk about how IoT makes our lives easier at home. But before going any further, let’s recap what IoT is: ‘Internet of Things is a term used for technologies that allow the connection of a device to the Internet.These systems rely on the collection of data. The data is then used for monitoring and transferring information to other devices via the Internet. As an example, let’s look at a smart coffee maker. You can program the coffee maker to turn off once it brews the coffee automatically. It can also notify the user on their phone once the coffee is ready.

We are not talking about SCI-FI here as IoT home automation is slowly but steadily becoming a part of daily lives worldwide. The global market for intelligent home automation is worth around $40 billion today.This shouldn’t come as a surprise if you think of the convenience and ease that smart home devices offer. Since these IoT devices are connected, it becomes easier to manage multiple tasks. IoT devices at home are not just a fancy show-off of technology, but rather IoT home devices help save time and reduce costs and energy.

Today, we have a wide range of IoT devices at home, including thermostats, refrigerators, security systems, and even dryers and kettles. With time, more devices are most likely to be added to this list with even more innovative features.

Now let’s look at the picture below:

This is a picture of a smart home powered by IoT. Today, most smart IoT homes allow you to control devices via an app or voice commands. But let’s take a look at some examples:

Lighting

Smart lighting can be scheduled to turn on/off and change its intensity. As an example, you can have the lights turn on in your house before you even get there, or you can program them to go on when you’re on vacation to prevent people from knowing you’re not at home.

In the future, I see this going even further with lights being able to adjust to actions around the house; for example, if you’re watching a movie, the lights can turn off or dim whenever you start watching it without even having to set the action.

Doors

In the future, doors can become more intelligent as well. Today I open my home door with a fob but imagine the door opening with your phone or facial recognition. If we look at the natural next step, the rest of the house will take action as soon as you enter your home.

Thermostat

Today, you can control your home thermostat remotely through your phone. In the future, that might not even be necessary; the thermostat will be able to recognize if you are approaching your home and turning the AC or heat automatically by checking the external temperature and set the best one for you.

Vacuum

You’re most likely familiar with an iRobot Roomba and may even own one already. But how does a Roomba work? You can fully control the Roomba from your phone, where you’ll be able to start and stop the device as well as schedule and customize your cleanings, magic, right?!

Fridge

Since we’re at it, let’s add a smart fridge! A smart fridge can detect the items stored and keep track of essential details such as expiry and usage. These refrigerators work on a barcode or RFID system whereby they collect the batch and manufacture detail directly from the Internet. The fridge will tell you if you should throw anything away and when you should go get groceries next.

Nowadays, it is already possible for much of the home to “speak” with smart devices as smart sockets automatically turn on/off devices. When you wake up, alarms can play music or tell you the weather. Voice assistants can now manage lights, home appliances, thermostats, alarms, and other devices. This sounds very much like sci-fi; however, this is the future. Our homes will be increasingly technological to help us with the routine tasks we no longer wish to do ourselves, just like making coffee or mopping floors. Of course, some changes will not happen overnight as there are still some barriers to the widespread adoption of IoT-enabled intelligent homes, such as cost as these pieces of technology are increasingly expensive. Privacy is another primary concern with hackers accessing the entire network of devices through a compromised IoT device. Still, despite these risks, I believe we are moving towards a more digitalized home and way of living. And who knows, one day we might not even have to cook our meals!

11 comments

  1. As someone who is old enough to remember VHS I can definitively say that we are in fact in the future. I think that we adapt to these things relatively quickly and become blind to the remarkable progress. We all remember the famous prediction for the 21st century from the 1950s and how silly they were. I think we’re seeing an inversion of the that where the accelerated pace of innovation and digitization is being underestimated or downplayed.

  2. I’ve seen ads for the door handles that you can unlock with a phone and I’ll admit they freak me out a bit. I get nervous thinking that somehow someone could just hack it and unlock my house. What’s wrong with the classic lock and key? I have mixed feelings about some of these tasks. Some things I think are useful but some I think are just overkill but I guess it all comes down to the consumers preferences. Like I mentioned above my concern lies around the cybersecurity issues that some of these technologies might create. For example with a smart fridge, could a hacker potentially interpret your shopping habits and thus determining when your home may be unoccupied. Food for thought

  3. I’m interested in seeing how door locks will continue to evolve, especially since hotels are moving in the direction of having the key to unlock your hotel room on your phone. Once we get comfortable with the idea that our hotel room key is our phone, I don’t see many barriers to accepting that same method for home locks. Also, I am interested to see how companies like Ring may already be looking at this as their next product.

  4. As William Gibson famously said, “the future is here, its just unevenly distributed.” Nice followup post!

  5. I’m a beneficiary of smart home technology. Currently, I use Hue lights to control the lighting in my home while I’m away or if I need to change the setting to read. In addition, after a recent update in Hue light technology, the lights are now capable of changing colors to respond to the sound and vibration coming from the television. Personally, I don’t use that feature because the constant changing of colors in my room would drive me insane. I definitely see the IOT market growing over the next 5 – 10 years, especially now that more people are working from home.

  6. I really enjoyed your presentation and this blog further peaked my interest! I think one thing that used to bother me is the privacy concern with all of these devices listening and watching and storing the data that makes predictions based on what the user’s preferences are… BUT in all honesty predictive ads help me save time shopping and just make my online experience better so the privacy concern seemingly evaporated!

  7. I’m looking forward to discussing AI in our class because I think that’s a key ingredient to really leverage the potential for IOT in a home setting. Right now there’s a lot of smart devices in my house that I can customize: thermostat, misc smart speakers, smart-plug connected to lighted liquor cabinet that turns on precisely at 5pm ;-)

    But I still have to program each individually. It would be great to have a system that can adapt and “learn” based on what I do instead of me having to explicitly instruct each device. So a more holistic approach? I feel like I could generate a wealth of valuable data just in a couple of weeks that could be the basis for some truly useful automation in my home.

  8. Yana! To answer your question: Yes, we live in the future! The fact is that I can control the temperature of my apartment from my phone and that I have personal assistance (Alexa) at my disposal proves that. I love your blog! You did a great job keeping me engaged through the hall article. I am excited to see what is the new technology that we will be incorporating into our lives.

  9. As I read your post, I was reminded of the times I thought (as a kid) clapping to turn the lights on was the the way of the future. Little did I know, you don’t even have need to clap; you just need to have a working iPhone. Your blog post serves as another example of most companies/industries digitally transforming into a tech companies and I think the biggest concern going forward lies in mitigating hackers to these sorts of tech products (especially since they are within the confines of one’s home).

  10. While there are a lot of safety and privacy concerns that come with digitizing every aspect of our lives, this is something I get super excited about. I remember watching the Disney channel movie ‘Smart House’ as a kid and was super fascinated with the technology present in that house.

    All residential/hospitality/businesses buildings are moving towards a more digital environment. The apartment I moved into is a newly build apartment complex where everything is controlled through my phone – even the locks. I was glad to not have to carry a key around, but it definitely took some time adjusting to it!

  11. I love this post. As others had mentioned, “Smart House” is the first thing that comes to mind when reading this post. So many of the features of “Smart House” are a reality today which is so crazy to think about. And when I implemented technologies like Alexa into my home, it did not even feel that revolutionary. I was just humping on the bandwagon. This also makes me think of the Jetsons. While I never watched the show, my mom always talks about how growing up she would watch the show that featured a video phone. Now, this is how I communicate with her very often – on facetime! We are living in the future.

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