Will Smart Homes Ever Be a Thing?
This is a question that seems to be surfing the the internet more than ever. Will smart homes ever be a thing? Only time will tell. But let’s break this down one by one before I start spouting my opinion to you.
Starting with the history of smart homes, the very first smart home, known as the Push Button Manor, was built in the early 50s and owned by a man named Emil Mathias Jackson. Since new inventions such as the iron, dishwasher, and vacuum were just coming about, the idea for his smart home was to complete all household chores with the push of a button (wouldn’t that be nice?). It’s really important to remember that a smart home then was more about completing house chores, and while that may still be the case now, it’s a little more in depth than that as far as security, lighting, eco-friendliness, etc.
Jumping 40 years later, in 1999, Microsoft shared their proposition of how a smart house would look in the years to come. In their vision, “the home was powered by the Pocket PC and included everything from smart locks, lighting, and environmental controls, a CCTV home monitoring system, and even a bar code scanner to help create an online shopping list.” As it turns out, their vision was pretty much right. Except for the fact that we don’t call iPhones Pocket PC’s (thank god).
When people hear about smart homes today, many instantly get negative thoughts that they’re expensive, uncommon, and far from affordable. In reality, people are constantly working on newer, affordable products to improve home life. According to Energy Sage’s website, Tesla is currently allowing consumers to join a waiting list for the new solar roof tiles. In case you haven’t heard of this new, wonderful advancement in technology, Elon Musk’s solar roof tiles are tempered glass solar tiles designed to be efficient, but also appealing to the eye. The whole point of the new tiles is that they will be more affordable than a regular roof installation, eco-friendly, and already have 4 unique designs to suit any home.
You’re probably all thinking “yeah right, it’ll still be expensive,” but let’s stop and think about this, because if Tesla is already working to make roof installations affordable, think about where we’ll be in 30 years. There’s no doubt that smart homes are expensive, since they typically sell for a couple million; however, (like with everything) in a few years, they might not be as expensive as you think. What I’m trying to say here is that with time comes great things. If a company, like Tesla, is already working to make home improvements more affordable, it’s hard to imagine that other company’s won’t jump on this same idea. Beyond that, with all of the new technology surfacing about (Nest thermostat, Philips Hue lights, LiveWatch security system), you can easily transform any home into a smart home. Don’t we all want our lives to be as simple and easy as possible?
With that in mind, the next issue, and one of the most concerning problems to people, is that there is no central hub or dashboard to control all the smart home’s tech. In other words, many of these technologies don’t connect with one another, thus making it frustrating for the consumer to operate. Luckily we’ve got companies, specifically Apple, that are currently working to improve anything and everything they can to make our lives easier. Apple released their Apple Homekit, a kinda sorta central hub, in the fall of 2014. As a matter of fact, if you own an iPhone, you probably have the home app (you know, the one with the yellow-orange house that you’ve probably never used). But, this is just one example of how we are working to solve the situation of the central hub. The Apple Homekit has the ability to connect with the Nest thermostat, Philips Hue lights, and so much more. While the Homekit only connects with certain tech, it’s the closest thing to a central hub we’ve got. Again, if we’re already working to solve this problem, think about what advancements we’ll have in 30 years.
From the research I’ve gathered, it seems that most people have this commonplace fear that the smart house might be too smart, and one day have a mind of it’s own (thank you Disney movie Smart House for putting this fear into everyone’s head). Unfortunately, with all technology we have this risk (between phones, cars, computers, etc.). Just like us humans, technology occasionally makes mistakes, but that doesn’t mean we should run from it. Whether it’s for that busy soccer mom on the go, the busy accountant that never has time to clean, or that sleeper in-er that’s always running late and never has enough time to make a cup of coffee — smart homes are built to make lives easy.
People made predictions years ago, and they weren’t exactly right, so what if our futuristic vision of smart homes aren’t right either? What if they do turn out to be affordable, more reliable, and don’t turn out to have a mind of their own?
When I think about a smart home (30 years from now), it includes me waking up with a big stretch, letting out a big yawn, while the curtains are automatically being opened. My green tea is already made for me, so all I have to do is get ready for work, and walk out the door. At this point, one can imagine the the door locks automatically behind me, the lights dim themselves, and my car is already started/warmed up for me. I can check my phone to start the laundry, get Roomba cleaning the floors, ya know, the whole shabang.
To wrap this up, and if you haven’t already caught it, the point I’m trying to make here is that we should embrace what has yet to come and see where it goes. As human beings, we are all naturally scared and cautious of new things. Smart homes, on a larger scale, will surely help to make everyone’s lives simple and easier. We shouldn’t stray from them due to the fear of the unknown. We don’t know what 30 years from now is going to look like, but we definitely shouldn’t avoid preparing for it.