Every time we hear about “smart homes”, we start talking about technology far into the future. Our mind builds a picture out of The Jetsons, where artificial intelligence and hardware engineering has moved to a point of marvel. But how realistic is that today?
I love watching smart home videos, but animations and visual effects lose me. They make it seem like we’re talking about futuristic tech which could be possible “some day”, but not in the next few years.
People have been living in smart homes for 20 years! So what kind smart home tech of tomorrow can actually be demonstrated today? Let’s see the life that awaits us in the near future, not in 2050.
The Bed That Makes Itself
Let’s start the day from when you wake up. You have to go through the tedious task of making your bed. Well, unless you have the Ohea Automatico, a smart bed that makes itself.
As the video shows, it’s dead simple. Switch it on before you go to bed, and once you wake up, just step aside. Smart sensors and levers then take over to start making the bed. The process takes just under a minute.
What’s happening under the hood is that a mechanical arm pulls the duvet to the head of the bed, while another cord straightens the pillows. The cord lifts the pillows, the arm tucks the duvet into the head, and the pillows are placed back.
And don’t worry, the Automatico stops immediately if you apply any pressure to the bed while it’s being made; plus, there’s no way for it to activate if you’re lying in it. Safety comes first.
Tomorrow’s Bathroom, For Today
Time to head to the smart bathroom for your morning rituals. Living Tomorrow, a research firm in Brussels, has been experimenting with smart homes for 20 years now. The smart bathroom they built is designed to speed up your morning routine while giving you a whole lot of useful information.
As you can see in the smart home video, the smart mirror recognizes you and displays traffic information, weather reports, the time, and the news. Meanwhile, the tile you’re standing on acts as a weighing scale, while a camera in the ceiling 3D tracks you.
Using this data, the smart bathroom figures out whether you are at the right weight for your height, and gives you nutritional information about what you should or shouldn’t be eating today.
The idea is fantastic: it’s about making your bathroom time more productive and getting you prepared for the day before you head off for work.
The Art of Living Room
You come back from work, you’re tired, you want things to just fall in place now. The house you built should work for you, not the other way around, right? Now your living room has already got smart thermostats to set the temperature, smart lamps to set the lighting, and smart TVs on our walls. But that’s not what I want to talk about here. The really smart living room is going to one that puts older people at ease.
Look at the simplicity of the tech in the video here. A remote to find keys and other objects. A phone with large buttons for emergency calls. A carbon oxide sensor to detect harmful gases. Of course, it has a central smart remote control to control your fan, lights, and other things. The phone is hooked up to dial an emergency contact if a sensor detects a fall or any other harm.
The idea is to make a living room that is safe for people who can’t take care of themselves. Imagine how much more secure you’d feel if your aging parents or little kids were in a house like this when you weren’t in it.
Yeah, your living room doesn’t need any more work from you, but you still need to cook. It would be a dream to have personal chef, who is never late, who cooks things just the way you want, and who even cleans up afterwards. Well, robot vacuums are cleaning up after us already, so why not extend that tech to the kitchen? The Moley Robotic Kitchen (MRK) is making the dream a reality.
The “robot” is a full unit including a pair of robotic arms, an oven, a food drawer, a utensils shelf, a sink, and a touchscreen display. The whole unit works together to prep, cook, and wash. Healthy recipes are fed into the MRK database, which you can then choose based on what’s stocked and what you feel like. These recipes are “taught” to MRK by chefs who wear motion-tracking gloves while preparing the dish, so the robot will perfectly mimic the same way to make the dish as a human would.
MRK frees you from making anything, while still serving healthy, home-cooked food. It’s steep at $75,000, but the makers expect the price to drop over a few years. Remember, smart homes don’t need to be expensive. And if you’re worried about a psychotic kitchen bot chucking knives at you, don’t worry, MRK only uses a food processor.
Peaceful Sleep At Last
You’ve had your meal, you’ve watched some Netflix, it’s time to turn in for the night. As we know by now, not getting a good night’s sleep is deadly. Luna is a smart mattress cover that promises a peaceful rest.
The cover has smart sensors that monitor you in bed. This way, it can change the temperature of the mattress before you sleep—and yeah, you can get different temperatures for different sides of the bed so both you and your partner can sleep peacefully. It monitors your motion to know when you are ready to sleep and gathers your sleep patterns accordingly. This way, it knows when to wake you up or let you sleep just a little bit more till you’re out of your REM cycle.
Luna also talks to other devices and uses that data for a better sleep. Your daily exercise, tracked by your phone, determines its sleep recommendations. It’ll change the thermostat to optimal degrees. It’ll start the coffee machine when it detects you’re out of bed! It’s simple: you get to rest, Luna does the work—all for just $99. That’s what smart living should be, right?
Microsoft’s Home of the Future
There is no single vision of what the futuristic smart home will be like. Everyone has their own idea. This quick smart home video what Microsoft thinks a smart home should look like, with projectors showing recipes, hand-scanning tech to unlock doors, and other gadgetry to make our lives better.
Living Tomorrow’s Future Home
Remember Living Tomorrow, the researchers who made that smart bathroom? Well, they actually made a whole house. You can find plenty of videos of this home on YouTube, but the one above shows the best quick walkthrough of all the features.
The Smart Home Today
Finally, let’s end on a tone of the reality today. Matt Emmi, co-founder of OneButton, took The Verge through a walking tour of what a high-end smart home looks like right now, if you have the money. It’s a fantastic look at how physical elements and existing smart tech (like your phone) can come together, and their current failings too.
Where Do You Start?
So has all this got you excited about smart home technology? I know that the Moley Robotic Kitchen and its robo-chef made me go, “I want that right now!” Not that I have $75,000 to spare, of course, but if I did…
Well, let’s focus on you. Which room of your home would you want to start with first, and how would you make it smarter?