The Internet of Things is here. And, as more of your belongings access the internet through Bluetooth or WiFi, your home is quickly becoming a part of it.
From the basics – your fridge, oven, and soon your smart meter, to things you’d never have imagined - like electrochromic windows that tint in strong sunlight, pillows that mimic your absent partner’s heartbeat and robotic butlers - the world is changing. Seem far-fetched? Think again. As we embrace the Internet of Things, technology is making our homes smarter in a way never seen before.
We’ve imagined a totally connected home, all from technology in development today. Here’s what a day in your smart, connected home could look like...
7am – Alarms are now a thing of the past. Instead, the bedroom lights gradually brighten until you are fully awake. An app on your phone switches the coffee machine on downstairs, starts grinding beans and boiling water – before you’ve even rolled out of bed. In the bathroom, your mirror uses facial recognition to give you a daily health check-up, and tells you to start flossing a little harder.
7.45am – It’s almost time to leave for work. As you look out of the window, a drone flies past and drops the package you ordered onto your doorstep.
8am – You get into your self-driving car and head off for work. The garage door is set to automatically lock behind you, so you don’t need to worry. You’re still a little sleepy, so let the machine take control. Since its Wednesday, the car knows to drive you straight to the office, switching routes to avoid traffic on the way.
10am – Your electricity meter has sent you a text message - you’re trying to be green and the app helps you track how you’re getting on, in real time. Whoops - you left your phone charger plugged in at home! You remotely turn it off, using your next-generation plug adaptor.
1pm – Your son finishes school at lunchtime every Wednesday. Your phone tells you that the heating will switch on for his arrival. The thermostat has learnt both of your schedules – but you can override it if your routine changes.
2pm – Your mum popped round, but she left her key at home. You use your app to open the door from your office desk, and put the kettle on for her. When she leaves, it will automatically lock on her way out. Not that you’re worried, because any unexpected movement is streamed directly to your iPad. Your smoke alarm and water sensors are set up to warn you of any irregularities too.
4pm – It starts raining. Your sprinkler is set to come on this evening, but the weather intelligence feature alters the watering schedule and tells you it will check back in a few days.
6pm – You have to work late. You set the lights to come on, so that anyone watching the house will think you’re home as usual – the same trick you use whilst you’re on holiday!
7pm – Finally out the door at work! As you get in your car, the screen tells you that all that’s left in the fridge are potatoes and cabbage. Not the most appetising meal. Not to worry, because the smart fridge has recommended picking up a few sausages and eggs to make a delicious bubble and squeak for dinner. Not bad!
7.30pm – Whilst you’re cooking, the pan measures the weight of the sausages, and tells you when to turn them over. If it gets too hot, the pan will let you know. Culinary genius! Once the food is served, your Pepper Grinder will not only flavour your food but also shut off all dinner-time distractions in the house. After all, meal times are family time.
8pm – The kids don’t argue over what they’re listening to anymore: they each control the speakers in their own rooms with their iPads. You keep hold of the master off-switch though; just in case it gets too loud.
8.30pm – You decide to do a bit of vacuuming. The vacuum zooms around the floors, detecting dirt with its cameras, whilst you put your feet up.
9pm – Its bedtime (for the kids at least). The parental lock comes on the iPad and your daughter is kicked off Facebook. Only a few cursory grumbles, and they’re tucked up for the night. You fancy an early night yourself, and are soon snuggled under the covers. With one clap to dim the lights, you drift off as the room slowly darkens…
Seem like a vision of the future? We’re really not that far away. As the world embraces the Internet of Things, we’ll start to see more and more of these futuristic scenarios become reality. Kids of the future might not recognise the tangled mess of cables we all keep behind the TV, as wireless charging becomes the norm. Such things might seem gimmicky, but what we are actually starting to see is the emergence of super smart solutions to genuine everyday problems.