How did the dreamers of the last century see the houses of the future? A man of the XXI century was supposed to be surrounded by humanoid robots, obediently carrying out the commands of their masters. But the naive futuristic concepts were never realized. Without breaking away from reality and current trends, let's look into the very near future - the next 10–20 years. Will smart homes become affordable, what will they be, and is there any reason to believe that this will affect you personally?
We are no longer surprised that the usual things around us are getting smarter - turning into smart devices. Our houses and apartments will also soon become such devices - big gadgets. That is, if earlier our dwellings were some kind of building structures, volumes, now they are devices that can be controlled by voice, from a smartphone or terminal. How will it look in practice? It is quite possible that in ten years, buying or renting an apartment, you will be interested in its operating system. Twenty years ago, you could not even imagine that telephones and televisions would have their own "axis". Android didn't exist ten years ago. The first version of the OS for bicycles was expected this year, and it has arrived. Further, as they say, everywhere. Our homes are no less in need of automation and control than other complex devices. But we want to do more than just manage our homes. I would like to be understood without words. The home should remember our habits and preferences and create a comfortable environment for us without further ado.
Someone may ask the question: why are all these miracles of technology in the house? After all, now anyone can automate their home and order a "smart home" system. But life does not stand still. Energy resources will not become cheaper, prices for electricity, water and heating will rise, and a smart home will help save money. Our requirements for comfort are growing, and the home gadget will make our life more convenient. We appreciate every minute of our life more and more - and a hot bath, carefully selected for our return home, is priceless. Against the background of all this, mass production and advances in electronics make the elements of a "smart" home cheaper, and therefore more affordable for the mass consumer.
… filled with gadgets
The space of our homes for the next decade will be filled with smart irons, coffee machines, refrigerators and other devices that can access the Internet, exchange information with their own kind and allow you to control yourself remotely: by voice, gestures, commands. The self-diagnosis function is not far off, when, for example, a refrigerator that has stopped working will be able to determine the cause of the breakdown and report it to the service center. The Internet of Things is already becoming a reality. And one of the locomotives of this direction is the world's leading processor manufacturer, Intel. At CES 2017, the company presented something new in this area.
The modular computing platform Compute Card has dimensions comparable to a bank card - 95x55x5 mm. But at the same time, the device is actually a full-fledged system unit and is able to become the "brain" of any "smart" device. There is everything for this: a processor, RAM and permanent memory, wireless interfaces, a set of various connectors for connection.Although the device is more often compared to a bank card, it still looks more like a battery for a smartphone. The replacement principle is similar. As soon as the battery fails and no longer holds a charge, you replace it with a new one. As soon as the Compute Card becomes morally or physically obsolete, you take it out of the device and “charge” a new version of the device into your “smart” gadget. Essentially, a new brain for your smart TV, refrigerator, climate control system, smart home server, and much more. Just imagine: your refrigerator itself evaluates the contents of its shelves and the shelf life of products and, if you need to replenish stocks of products, places an order in the online store itself. But let's say he still can't talk, and all your friends already have voice-controlled refrigerators. Now you don't need to buy a new refrigerator. Just change the "smart" filling for it. This will now be as easy as replacing the phone battery. Leading players in the IoT device market have already lined up for the new platform.
In the future, you will "always be at home." The entrance doors will be equipped with a video camera in the door peephole, a microphone and a speaker. On your smartphone screen, you will see everyone who calls the doorbell of your house when you are not there. A courier came with a parcel, and you went away for five minutes for bread? Tell him you're on your way.
The current changes cannot but affect the furniture. For example, the “smart” double bed Sleep Number 360. Outwardly, this piece of furniture is no different from their own kind. But this is only at first glance, since the "smart" filling is hidden inside. Furniture of the future should not surprise with high-tech design. No buttons, neon or chrome. You just have to be comfortable, very comfortable. In the case of Sleep Number 360, this is indeed the case, the bed will individually adjust the firmness of the mattress, warm up the leg area and wake up at a given time. In addition, according to the assurance of the developers, the bed will be able to get rid of snoring. As soon as a characteristic sound is heard, the headboard of one of the halves of the mattress is raised by 7 ° so that the snoring head takes the correct position for breathing. The bed is crammed with all kinds of sensors and sensors that collect information about sleep. If you do not get up in the morning for work, then the "smart" bed, analyzing your sleep and wake schedule, can wake you up at the moment when you have a good night's sleep. The start of sales of the device is scheduled for the first half of this year.
If today a "smart" house is an expensive but convenient toy that requires substantial expenses, then tomorrow it is already an accessible necessity. There is no reason to believe that utility costs will decrease in the next 10–20 years. This means that the economical use of energy resources will become the responsibility of everyone. Heating a room is a significant cost item during the heating season. But if you are not at home during the day, is it worth heating an empty room? By setting the operating mode of the heating devices, it will be possible to maintain a comfortable temperature only during those hours when someone is in the house. Or entrust the house itself to determine your presence using motion sensors. The same applies to rooms. Not all of them need to be kept warm throughout the day. As with all systems, heating can be controlled from a smartphone. Decided to return from work early and do not want to enter your dwelling that is not yet heated? Take your smartphone and make changes to the heating schedule. No matter how far you are from home, you can manage its systems over the Internet.
However, if you want to save good money on heating, there is a more radical way that will surely find its fans. Why heat a room at all when you can only heat the person who is in it? The local heating device, developed by scientists at the Massachusetts University of Technology (MIT), will be just right for those who want to save money in a serious way.The infrared heat ray will only heat you. The motion sensors of the "smart" house will tell you which way to direct it.
The next 10 to 20 years will likely make light switches an old-fashioned interior detail. Particularly economical citizens no longer have to go after their households and turn off the lights in their rooms. You don't even have to turn it on. The motion sensor will turn on the lighting in the room as soon as you enter it, and turn it off as soon as you leave. The house will recognize each of its tenants and take into account their preferences. In the evening, do you like to open the curtains wider and do not turn on the light for a long time? As soon as you enter, the house will do just that.
There is reason to think about it, because the energy consumption of smart home systems can also be costly. All of these sensors, sensors, cameras, actuators and other devices will require a power supply. And the house will be full of them. But even this is not the main thing. The more sensors, the more difficult the installation. But they also need to be wired - this will significantly increase the cost of installing the "smart" home system. Or you have to constantly change the batteries in all these sensors, and this is unnecessary worries. We recently talked about 10 technologies that will change our lives in the near future. The relevance of one of them is easily illustrated by the topic of "smart" home. A little more - and a large number of devices will receive energy "from the air". This, of course, is not about the fact that all these sensors and sensors will work using atmospheric air. The space around us is saturated with electromagnetic waves, including radio waves. Just as we use sunlight to generate electricity, radio waves can be used to generate electricity to power low-power devices. The technology was named Freevolt. Or low-power devices can be recharged purposefully using a Wi-Fi router. The technology developed by scientists from the University of Washington is called Power over Wi-Fi.
The energy consumption of key components of a smart home will decrease. The ability to use energy "out of thin air" for their power supply will save on installation and maintenance. In general, this will make it possible to make "smart" homes accessible to the majority of the population and turn them into a mass product within the next ten to twenty years.
What's the head of everything?
The home usually always has some of the most important piece of electronics or household appliances taking center stage. A TV that gathers the whole family around it, a computer or even a refrigerator. Voice assistants like the Amazon Echo and Google Home will likely take center stage in our homes in the next decade. Especially after Amazon decided to make the software base of its Echo speaker available to other manufacturers. The Consumer Electronics Show 2017 (CES) only confirms the emerging trends in the Internet of Things and smart homes. The current CES has delighted many Amazon Alexa-based devices. For example, the "smart" assistant Lenovo Smart Assistant. The gadget recognizes a voice at a distance of 5 meters, has eight microphones and a noise reduction system. The device will tell you about the weather outside, can find information on the Internet and play music as you wish. And, of course, it is able to integrate into the smart home system. For music lovers, a version of the gadget with acoustics from Harman Kardon is specially provided.
Voice assistant Alexa can now control many things - from smart locks to refrigerators, not to mention the fact that it allows you to order groceries online and remotely start the car engine. It is likely that it will appear in many homes in the next decade. However, for those who are ready to spend a tidy sum, there are other proposals. For example, the robot assistant Yumi, which resembles a tumbler.Unlike a "smart" speaker that stands in one place and is connected to the home power grid, the robot is autonomous and able to follow you, waiting for orders. With a cute face and a smile that reproduces the Amazon logo, the robot is actually a more advanced analogue of the Amazon Echo speaker.
If you still think that smart homes are a fun geek toy and unnecessary overkill, think about people with disabilities. A “smart” home, filled with its “sense organs” and facilitating everyday life, can significantly change the lives of people, who are deprived of many opportunities due to various circumstances.
Well, what next?
Over the horizon 2027–2037 you can also try to look. What is there? A sofa on which you can sleep at home at night and go to the bakery in the morning? Probably, the designers of the South Korean automaker Hyundai think so. At CES 2017, the company unveiled its smart home concept. According to their idea, the house of the future is equipped with a special slot for a car. The vehicle does not need to be parked in the garage. When you do not use it for its intended purpose, the car becomes part of the infrastructure and living space of your home. The car can power the electrical system at home, and the interior becomes a cozy niche where you can sit at night or sit with friends. The multimedia complex is useful for home entertainment, and the climate control system will be able to maintain a comfortable temperature in the room. Such a car, acting both as part of the living space and as a vehicle, blurs the line between the street and the house. Maybe this is the idea of the dwellings of the future already in the second half of this century?
Experts predict that the market for home automation systems will grow to $ 78 billion in five years. The industry will grow by almost 13% annually. The current trend will affect you and me. It's time to think about what you would automate in your home in the first place.