The implication of smart home technologies for all of us

Economy March 07, 2014 00:00

By Srettha Thavisin

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For most of us, home is a place in which we can be our true selves. Once at home, we are surrounded by an environment that encourages self-understanding and the discovery of who we really are through various activities that fulfil our sense of ourselves.

Home is also a place where our quality time is shared with our loved ones. After a long day at work, we arrive home looking forward to sharing precious time with our families. We try to spend more time with our loved ones each morning, evening, and weekend. It doesn’t matter whether it is lounging around, cooking, dining, helping with homework, gardening, or even fixing things, as long as everyone participates. We all cherish these moments.
Having said all that, it is no surprise that in the past, the home has been the one social institution that emanates warmth and romance. But that might not be the case any longer. The changes in social structure, economic factors, and financial burdens have altered the way we live and interact with one another. More and more time is being spent away from home – in traffic, at work, at social functions, in meetings, on business trips and so forth – and time is something we all crave.  
Things are not looking good from the perspective of the family-oriented type of person. Even worse, technologies have invaded our everyday lives to the extent that some of us would rather stare at our mobile-phone screens than look at one another’s faces when sharing the dining table.  
Have we entered an era where we are so connected that we disconnect ourselves from the world around us? Is it that bad? Well, we have talked about how technologies have become so small and mobile that they follow us everywhere, but what if the technologies are embedded into our home? What will the implications be? Would it be for the worse or better?
Implanting technologies into our homes is all about serving certain objectives and benefits. These objectives and benefits could be related to energy efficiency, safety, comfort, and convenience. But I am sure that more decisions are made based on the last two factors than on the others: comfort and convenience.
In science-fiction movies, families in the future adopt robotic machines to help them go about their daily lives, replacing the maids that we are familiar with. But I think it won’t be like that. I foresee a home that has no robots but is smarter, with the help of technology that will allow all sorts of electronics and appliances to be able to communicate with one another and perform a variety of tasks. 
With the speed of innovations these days, I can see that nearly all major appliances in the future will take advantage of networks and the Internet, making our home a “networked” one.  
We have seen in the past three or four years a refrigerator that takes an automatic inventory of items inside of it, alerting the consumer to what is there, how long it has been there, when an item is running low, and even ordering new inventory via the Internet. That is just the beginning. Smart home technology is currently being developed and implemented for all rooms in the house, particularly the kitchen and the living room.
Smart homes will become more of a reality as broadband Internet and other technologies such as Bluetooth become more widespread in homes. These technologies provide a way to have a home networked for devices to communicate with one another and to have them connected to the Internet, which is the foundation on which a smart home will operate.
With smart home technologies, our lives will become more efficient as more household tasks become automated. Imagine not having to write a grocery list ever again, since all the groceries will be ordered automatically. All that would need to happen is for someone to pick up the groceries. Food will be prepared when we get home. The time saved would mean more for entertainment, with oneself or with loved ones.  
As you can see, having technologies embedded into our home is quite a good thing. Imagine having 30 more minutes each morning and another 60 more in the evening to share with your family. That is priceless, isn’t it? Consumers will soon realise that smart home technology will be something that one cannot live without.