There’s No Place Like (a Connected) Home
It doesn’t take long to realize it’s going to be one of those days.
You drag out of bed, bleary-eyed after a bad night’s sleep in a stuffy, overheated room. Desperately in need of a caffeine jolt, you then discover that you’re out of coffee. You turn on the TV but are too harried to take in the morning news. Rushing out of the house, late, you suddenly can’t find your keys. A mad, time-wasting search ensues before you drive off to work, finally. Then, stuck in traffic, your mind begins to fret: Did you turn off the TV? Turn out the lights? Water the plants? Lock the door?
Now, imagine the same morning routine in a home enabled by the Internet of Everything (IoE), the explosion in connectivity that is transforming the world as we know it.
You wake up rested, since the temperature, air quality, and lighting in your bedroom have been carefully synchronized to your sleep patterns. You tap your smartphone to start up the coffee machine and turn on some light morning music. During a short but vigorous pre-breakfast workout, the temperature in your home gym drops automatically. Later, a sensor tells you exactly where you left your car keys the night before, just as a separate prompt informs you that the plants are fine — except for the thirsty hibiscus, which you water on your way out.
You don’t need to lock the house or turn off the appliances; a proximity sensor detects when you leave the house, locks and shuts off everything, and then sends an alert message to your car’s central screen. There’s no traffic, because your (connected) car is managed through the best routes — and finding a (connected) parking space is a breeze. During the morning meeting, the refrigerator tweets from home: milk and coffee are low. But not to worry — it has automatically ordered fresh cartons of your favorite brands from the local retailer.
All of this ease and efficiency will be enabled by technologies that are here or on the horizon. With IoE, even the dumbest of objects will be infused with smart sensors — endowed with the ability to communicate with other machines and, more important… with you!
Cisco believes that IoE has the potential to transform supply chains, manufacturing plants, retail, transportation, energy megaprojects, and much more by “lighting up” dark assets of all kinds with connectivity and smart capabilities.
Closer to home, IoE will touch… your home. Here are just a few examples of new household technologies that could light up your everyday life:
- Botanicalls is devising sensors to track the temperature and moisture level in flowerpots, then transmit readings and suggestions to your phone.
- Belkin WeMo switches allow users to control the lights in their living room, office, or bedroom from their phones; motion sensors adjust electricity usage in each room (and also notify of unwanted intruders).
- Libelium’s Waspmote sensors can track food from growth to shelf life in the grocery store and provide key information about the freshness and quality of what you eat at home.
- Netatmo monitors air quality, including humidity and oxygen content, and offers suggestions on when to ventilate, heat, air-condition, and so forth. Energy savings are another benefit.
- A Samsung washer/dryer can be remotely controlled and “talks back” with smartphone prompts concerning rinse cycles and drying temperatures.
- SmartThings is a system that links a network of sensors in the home by managing lighting, electricity, open doors, water leaks, your wayward dog, and so forth.
These technologies — and many more like them — have the potential to streamline, enhance, and expand our daily lives. But additional breakthroughs will be paramount to enabling this exciting future:
- Security — A smart door lock is useless if a hacker can crack its security code. There is much to be accomplished on this front, and more sophisticated devices are yet to come.
- Connected ecosystem — Your smart washing machine might indicate depleted detergent levels, but it will need access to pricing and inventory information if it is to restock automatically by connecting with your favorite retailer.
- Common and standardized technology — Just as two people speaking in different languages barely communicate, machines with different technology standards will be dumbstruck.
I am optimistic that these challenges will be overcome. Because the potential and opportunities of IoE are so vast, innovations will continue at a breakneck pace, transforming our lives — and homes — in startling new ways.
So, put up your feet and relax. The house just tweeted — it’s doing fine!