The Rest of the House
In my previous post, I talked about Disneys home of the future from 1957 and the kitchen; now lets talk about the rest of the house.
Control is an underlying theme of the future. Even in Disneys 1957 home, residents had the ability to not only control the climate, but even the scentimagine the small of sweet roses or fresh ocean breeze throughout the house. It is probably best for all of us that this idea never came to fruition.
Disneys 1957 home was designed for the women of that era. The vanity had a laboratory at one end and a telephone system at the other with a hands free speaker. Disney imagined push buttons in place of a dial (that worked out pretty well!). No need for a handset eitherjust talk and listen while you get ready for your day.
Those ideas are still popular and you can soon have an intelligent mirror in your bathroom that updates you on current news, the weather, and plays your favorite music.
Sure, Disneys future home from 1957 envisioned a lot of todays technology (electric toothbrushes, electric razors, and a two-way communication system from the doorstep to any room in your home), but today we are thinking much more about the user, giving the individual ultimate and centralized control of the inside and outside of the house.
Before your ready for your shower, set the exact temperature from your bed and then work on your tan while you warm your towel on the modernized towel lamp. While you drink your coffee, your car can warm up. While you drive away, your house can arm itself.
With products from companies like Nest, SmartThings and SimplyHome, the future home has become even smarter. For example, SimplyHomes Environmental Controls empowers disabled patrons to live more independently.
Products like this are entering todays home of the future, enabling individuals to operate beds, lights, TVs, doors, and more by tablet or voice-activation.
SimplyHome has devices like visual readers for the sight impaired; voice-activated environments and communications (phone calls, texts, emails, and web-surfing); touch screen tv's; and a voice-activated drink dispenser.
Todays home of the future is catering to the resident or end user, from sleek touch screen design, to automated sensors and voice command. Wireless M2M technologies, integrated with tablets, sensors, and alert notifications, make this possible.
And, then there is remote control.
I dont just mean the hand-held device that people are so familiar with today ... to control their television, home stereo system, Blu-ray players and the like. Instead, imagine controlling all the automation features in your home from your work or vacation spot. Or even when driving homecarefully and safely, of course!
Some of these remote control functions exist today and are being expanded as companies enable more and more features. It is already possible to use the Internet to monitor the video cameras inside your home, control the thermostat and heating system, arm and disarm your security system, etc. While driving home, the lights can be turned on remotely and messages from your refrigerator can be checked to see if a grocery stop is needed. As the functions in the home are automated, adding remote control to these functions becomes easier than ever.
What about behind the scenes?
It is interesting to see and watch the interaction between the resident and the house for the comfort functions that are enabled by the smart homes. But, increasing the automation of the home also lends itself to monitoring and diagnosis of systems that are not as visible.
Perhaps the heating system efficiency has degraded due to dust buildup inside the ducts. Or the gardening system has developed a water leak. Or a compressor inside a freezer unit has failed and the temperature is rising and food might spoil. These systems can report their failures to the resident for corrective action.
Predictive reports prior to complete failure can be even more usefulif a low-cost part starts to fails inside a more-expensive system, preventive measure to repair or replace the low-cost part could avoid more costly repairs to the entire system later.
And, yes, let's not forget about self-diagnosis and self-repair of home systems. This may be science-fiction today since present day systems have not yet reached that level of capability. But, someday ... just someday ... we may well wonder how we did without it!
Regardless, with all these possibilities, the future for home automation and making our daily lives more comfortable, meets and even exceeds the vision demonstrated by Disney 1957 look at the House of the Future.