The future is cool.
There’s this movement known as The Internet of Things, which seeks to make everyday objects “smart”.
Alarm clocks that gently wake you up at the most optimal time of your sleep cycle; micro-chip enabled light bulbs that glow red when your cookies are finished in the oven; plant sensors that notify you when your garden needs to be watered; even smart milk jugs that know when you have some sour dairy.
Smart milk jugs!
Jerry Seinfeld is going to have to completely overhaul is stand-up routine.
All of these neat little gizmos and gadgets combined together create what is known as the Smart Home, a craze pounced upon by today’s most forward-thinking companies: Google, Apple, Samsung and Lowe’s.
Yes, even your favourite home improvement store has jumped in on the action.
According to CNET: “Analyst firms project that in 2018, people will spend $100 billion on smart-home technology and there will be 45 million smart-home systems in use.”
One reason for this humongous estimation is the fact that Google has already spent $3.2 billion alone on Nest Labs, an innovative company that develops a remote-controlled thermostat, which monitors your habits and suggests better energy-saving alternatives, among other neat little tricks.
Take a look:
Nest Labs then bought Dropcam for half a billion dollars, a “smart camera” that can detect motion and sound and provide live footage for absent home owners.
So you can see that the Smart Home ball is starting to roll downhill, scooping up all the cool start-up tech companies along the way. Inventiveness will be rewarded, which is always a good thing in my humble opinion.
The bad news?
All of these well-funded tech companies – Apple, Google, Samsung – are developing their own Smart Objects and combining them into one big Smart Home collection. At least, that’s the idea.
This means that the consumer will have to choose which one to go with, and won’t be able to pick and choose which smart-thermostat, smart-fridge, smart-washing machine, and smart-milk jug to use, since Google products will only be able to talk to other Google products (and the same with Apple, Samsung, etc.)
Also, those worried about the increasing invasion of privacy that our technology has won’t be very thrilled with the whole Smart Home idea…
But that’s a different blog post altogether.
For now, the Jetson-esque reality has nearly arrived, and with money pouring in from all angles, it will be exciting to see which of our most beloved home inconveniences will be given a brain.
Here are some of the coolest ones I've come across so far - excluding the aforementioned Nest and Dropcam:
The Iris Smart Home Kit
This includes all of your basic necessity of smart objects to survive comfortably on an wi-fi enabled deserted island, such as smart-windows, smart-doors, smart-lightbulbs, and smart-thermostat.
Lumawake iPhone Dock
This creepy little guy watches you as you sleep, and has an infrared motion sensor that is able to track your sleep patterns and wake you up at the most optimal time through a simulated sunrise.
Koubachi Wi-Fi Plant Sensor
Wireless live monitoring, accurate vitality diagnosis, water control, temperature monitor, light advice, alerts...this thing has it all. The only thing it doesn't have is an excuse for that shriveled tomato plant of yours.
MilkMaid by Quirky
And finally, my personal favourite. A built-in sensor is able to detect changes in your milk's pH levels, how much liquid is left and what the expected expiration date will be. The best part? It will text you all of this information when it becomes relevant.
You better be excited about life after this article, I know I sure am.
Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go to the grocery store.
My milk just texted me.