Growing up as a 90s kid, one of my favorite networks (aka Disney Channel) would every so often play one of my favorite movies, Smart House. The synopsis is pretty simple: teenager wins a contest to move into a high-tech, smart home with his father and sister. The smart home, affectionately named Pat, did everything you needed it to do; made any kind of smoothie your heart desires in seconds, magically vacuum trash or spilled drinks that would make their way on the floor, schedule your appointments for you and above all, try to cover up for you when you throw a raging house party. When I was younger, the whole concept of a smart home was bewildering. How could a house be able to do these things, with the family members only having to vocally command the house to do these tasks? Would this be a thing of the future?
In my experience so far, smart homes that magically vacuum up trash I throw on the floor do not exist. That's in a dream world. The automated, self-propelled Roomba would be the closest alternative to these magic floors, talented enough to calculate room sizes so it knows what vacuum path it needs to take (very cool, right?). It seems as though the technology sector is making strides toward smarter homes through smart automation. If there's a hot topic lurking around the technology industry, it's IoT aka the Internet of Things. We've previously outlined some characteristics of IoT. On a basic level, IoT is the idea of connecting everyday devices (i.e. light switches, thermostats, refrigerators, fitness trackers, security devices, etc.) to the Internet so the devices can send and receive data. IoT is trending and IoT is appearing everywhere. Have you seen those touchscreen refrigerators recently? IoT. Digital billboards lighting up the streets of major cities? IoT. Your new personal assistant Alexa of the Amazon Echo fame? IoT.
IoT is becoming, if it hasn't already, an integral part of our everyday lives. According to Gartner's research, there have been over 8.4 billion IoT connections made in 2017. One of the most evident uses of IoT has been in various households across the world. Many people are moving towards smart home solutions where controlling various aspects of your home, whether it's lighting, temperature, or turning appliances on/off, can easily be done with a tap of a finger or simple voice command. For example, Amazon's voice-activated device Amazon Echo, can order stuff for you off Amazon, play music, update you on the latest news, control the smart home IoT devices adorning your home, and with the latest model, video chat with your friends. Home appliance stores are now selling refrigerators with touch screen displays that sync with your personal calendar to send you event reminders, display the weather forecast for the day and even create shopping lists for the owners of these coveted refrigerators. Now, there are talks of utility companies incorporating IoT for energy, waste and conservation management. There has been an upward trend in the use of smart home IoT devices in households and it doesn't look like the trend will be disappearing anytime soon. Thanks to the advancements made in IoT, you can make your home smart. It may not be Smart House-level smart - where the entire house itself is programmed to be one giant IoT device, but nevertheless smarter homes can provide convenience.
After watching Smart House, six year old wouldn't have believed how advanced technology would be at this point, but it definitely looks we're on the fast track towards becoming a smart world after all. There are upsides and downsides of incorporating this kind of technology; however, there's no denial that the use of smart home IoT devices makes our lives a little bit easier. There are no signs of stopping for the IoT train and with smart home IoT devices making their way into homes across the world, we start wondering...just how smart will our homes be in the future thanks to these IoT products?