At this year’s CES, I saw a future where having a network of connected devices in the home will be as normal as having an email address. Anything with an “ON” button has the potential to be connected, programmed, and controlled from anywhere. But how can we make this home automation work for us?
Imagine driving up to your house and your lights turn on. As you walk in the door, the temperature is cool and comfortable after a hot day. Your refrigerator suggests a recipe for chicken soup, knowing that your celery is about to go bad. With some careful configuring and connecting the connected, all this is possible with products available today. They will change your health habits, how you shop for household items, and even your DIY projects.
Wearable fitness trackers were huge on the CES floor, but sensing your health can also be done with products installed in your home. A bedroom with the Withings Aura Smart Sleep System monitors sleep after being installed in your bed while the Kolibree smart toothbrush tracks tooth brushing habits in the bathroom. And my favorite health-related device at CES checks your health in a place you can’t wait to be: a massage chair. The iPad-controlled Otter Smart Chair comes packed with health sensors, speakers and connectivity. It senses weight, blood pressure, blood oxygen, and heart rate while giving an amazing massage.
This year’s connected refrigerators and washing machines are so close to the dream! Imagine allowing your fridge to keep track of all of your food, recommend what to make based on expiration date, and maybe even do some grocery shopping for you. Samsung’s app-enabled fridge connects to social networks, all set to tweet about your awesome cooking. But this connectivity didn’t go very far. Apps for the fridge inventory lacked automation—so if you wanted it to suggest recipes you would enter the food and expiration date of each item—who would do that manually? Still, it’s an exciting thought that future additions like RFID and barcode scanners could change the grocery shopping experience entirely.
With so many connected devices, the power is not in how they connect to us, but in how they connect to each other. The problem is, many of these systems and brands use their own proprietary communication system. The Revolv hub is one possible solution that unifies many popular smart home products like Philips Hue lightbulbs, Sonos speakers and Wemo switches, among others into one simple app. Its central hub can be plugged in anywhere in your home to control all devices as if they were one system. Think of it as a universal remote for your entire house.
So what if you want to connect something that’s not part of an off the shelf solution? Makers, rejoice! There’s something here for you too. If that connected home of yours is missing, say, a smart player piano, consider the Pinoccio, and make one yourself. Pinoccio’s creators believe that makers shouldn’t have to go through so much trouble to get their hardware and sensors online. So they created this amazing microcontroller that talks to the web wirelessly right out of the box—ready to customize your connected home.
In the near future, I look forward to seeing the exponential power of makers connecting their creations. Using new open source platforms and easy to network hardware, anyone can create personalized devices for the home that have never been connected before. And, by combining commercially available products with creative customizations, the possibilities are endless.