Welcome to 2014, the future is now. There are so many amazing new technologies that are coming out, as well as companies that are pushing infrastructure to support them, that we should be seeing some incredible products hitting the market in the coming year.
One area that should see some big inroads is the use of technology integration at home. While there have been many examples of connected homes, smart devices, or automation of some functions, these technologies have been generally out of reach of the public on a wide scale.
Sure you could run down to the local hardware store and pick up an X10 control unit and some light modules to allow remote control of your lighting, but beyond that, the cost and difficulty in creating a fully integrated and controllable home environment has been out of the reach of the masses. That is changing quickly now. With the advent and proliferation of smaller wireless devices and more capable low power processors, the ability to add intelligence to almost anything is possible.
The hardware is only part of the equation though. In order to make things work together, the proper protocols need to be in place for developers to build usable systems. It has taken years to get here, but we are starting to see the results. There are several manufactures who have products coming to market that leverage the use of smart controllers over the Internet to do things such as control thermostats or link smoke detectors together and allow reporting back to a central location.
This year, home appliances are getting a big makeover with embedded Internet capabilities and touch screen displays that allow for programming and notification of specific events. A good example of this is the smart fridge that allows you to manage your “inventory” of food and notifies you when you are running low on specific items. And when you are not hacking into your fridge to get a cold drink or slice of pizza, you can be watching your favorite Internet video blog. Just watch out who your fridge is talking to though, otherwise you might find that it is spamming your friends and neighbors (And I am not talking about the meat-like substance in a can).
All of this connectivity brings about numerous possibilities for use and a shift in thinking about what we call the Internet. Because of all of the devices that are becoming network aware, many companies are adopting the term “Internet of Things.” There are so many devices planned to be out on the Internet that your house could literally be ready for you with a meal cooking, thermostat at the right temperature, lights lit at your entry point and other programmed locations, your news/video/music queued up and coffee waiting when you get home. Tie in GPS and traffic reporting and everything can be adjusted by the appropriate amount of time based on your location.
While this level of home awareness might not yet exist outside of the Jetsons, I believe that we should see a significant increase in the level of integration between devices at home. Pretty cool since it was not too many years ago this was considered gee-whiz science fiction.
Any thoughts on the future of smart devices in your home? Will you be an early embracer of this new technology?