The evolution of the smart home: the past, present and into the future!
• 5 min read, illustration from The Usborne Book of the Future (1979)
The smart home may seem like the house of the future, however, the technology has been steadily evolving and developing over the past few decades, even before the advent of the Internet. It is fascinating to see where we have come from in such a short time and the limitless potential of home automation technology.
The idea of the ‘smart’ home really took hold in the early part of the 1900s, although not recognizable to us as smart technology we know today. It truly revolutionised people’s lives and started us on the path to complete home automation.
With the invention of the first vacuum cleaners it was possible to quickly and efficiently clean an entire house. This seemingly simple technology to us had a huge impact, saving a great deal of time and even having an impact on the health of occupants. In quick pursuit came the electric fridge, finally enabling people to store food, reducing the amount of waste and allowing people to freeze food, then irons, microwaves and so on.
This foray into the world of home automation showed people that living in your house did not need to be a full time job, there were quick and efficient ways to cook and clean, freeing up time to spend with family or work.
With the Internet came a wealth of technological advances especially in the realm of networking and connectivity. In 2009 Dr. Stanford Clark connected his house to Twitter, this meant that his house would tweet him updates about the temperature, energy output, whether or not the doors were unlocked and the water usage. He essentially created one of the first public examples of an automated house. Of course this was a little less than secure, however, it did stir something in the imagination about the possibilities.
There has been an explosion in automated technology; especially since Internet speeds and security have been dramatically increased. It is now possible from a smart hub, computer or mobile phone to control almost every aspect of your house. Meaning you can monitor the energy output of your house, check for leaks, fires or intruders.
One benefit to the spread of the smart home is the fact that it has become more affordable and more accessible. Instead of being viewed, as solely for the rich or famous it is now possible for pretty much everyone to get on the automation ladder, with the only prerequisite being an Internet connection. It is easy to see that over the next few years smart homes could be viewed as a standard, just how we expect everyone to have a mobile phone and toaster.
So the big question is just how far can smart technology take us? Will we all be living in a science fiction movie, with mini robots sweeping up behind us, coffee and toast served as we walk down the stairs and food automatically ordered by our fridge? Well the short answer is, pretty much yes!
As the technology becomes more intelligent and autonomous, it will be able to adapt and predict our needs. Maybe even to the point that biometrics will become involved, enabling the house to identify specific people and morph to suit their needs. This will mean a fully bespoke house for every member of your family. Ultimately, there will be no need for smart phones or smart hubs, as wearable technology will eventually take over, or complete and effective voice control. Essentially, making the house a living part of you, working to make your life easier and more comfortable.
The time of the earlier adopter has already passed; smart homes are here and so easy to incorporate into your lives. According to statistics in 2016 91.9% of residents in the UAE use the Internet, this means that the vast majority of the population already has access to the basic tools necessary to build a smart home. Just consider a future where instead of you working for your house your house starts to work for you.
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