My Home is my CASEtle.
DRIVE PILOT for chairs.
Autopilot, active braking assistant, lane keeping and collision avoidance, smart charging systems, autonomous valet parking and vacuum-to-X communication – all of this is already found in these self-driving biscuit tins like the smart vacuum cleaners made by Roomba. Only the dust they collect still has to be tipped into the dustbin by hand. The Roomba concept has long since found its way into other applications and areas. In the meantime, there are smart and autonomous robomops and lawnmowers – and even chairs that roll themselves out of the way when they’re no longer needed.
There’s a smartphone in my fridge.
On the face of it, the fully automated household is something people have always dreamed of. Now, step-by-step, the cornucopia, the horn of plenty of Greek mythology, the fantastic land of plenty or the Wishing-Table of fairy-tale fame are gradually becoming realities. When you see a man with a phone in his hand in the aisles of a supermarket, he might not be asking his wife which washing powder to buy; he could actually be chatting with his fridge. Of course, it won’t be your common or garden fridge – it will be more of a domestic planning assistant for the entire family. One that’s connected to a cold-storage facility that just happens to keep food fresh as a side-line. It streams music and videos, offers shopping lists and immediately orders what’s on them, suggests recipes for delicious dinners and, if you forget what’s in the fridge, the app inside lets your smartphone or tablet show you how well stocked it is from almost anywhere. What used to be shopping for groceries is now Food Management – and it makes a party out of every occasion.
A table that piles itself with the best is unfortunately still a long way off, but the flat tops of pieces of furniture will soon be much more than just space to put things down on. Today, some already offer inductive charging options for electronic devices like smartphones. IKEA has already shown a future in which smart tables easily and autonomously determine what ingredients and how much of each are on the table, and which delicious dishes can be realised with them. The smart table provides suggestions for portioning individual ingredients, keeps your coffee hot and, of course, lets you cook things on its worktop. In only ten years, cooking hobs could become a thing of the past. Coming generations will be amazed to learn that their ancestors used to cook on open flames on a thing called a gas cooker. But these wonderful tables will never be able to bake or roast - at least not until someone builds an oven into a drawer. A modern oven from Bosch can already work out ideal cooking times and guarantees the success of selected recipes. That takes us all a little closer to the mythical land of plenty. We all know the feeling – did I turn the oven off when I left the house? The app on your phone now lets you call your oven and see – and turn it off if you did.
Elves & lone warriors.
More and more smart appliances are conquering our households. Maybe you already have a smart electric toothbrush that checks up on your dental hygiene. Or are woken by a sleep cycle alarm clock. Maybe your breakfast coffee is made by a programmable espresso machine. Hardly any new household appliance you can buy today doesn’t have some kind of sensor or communication module on board. Cisco, the US telecommunications concern, estimates that there will be 50 billion networked appliances around the globe by the year 2020.
The only thing they still have to learn is to communicate with one another. An international communication standard must be established. At present, espresso production still has to be started by smartphone. Nevertheless, in the not too distant future, Linguatronic could be bringing us connectivity options like car-to-coffee machine.
Did I order a pizza?
Many companies are working on integrated solutions to get a grip on this Babylon of incessantly gabbling appliances. Some concerns appear to take the whole thing much too seriously: The marketing video from BSH Haushaltsgeräte GmbH could well be the most impressive collection of gobbledegook since the invention of smart fridges. No matter how smart the appliances are, we mere humans who buy them still have to be smart enough to understand them. Plug & Play is the solution – and the smarthome solutions from RWE show how it should be done.
Apple, Google and Tesla naturally all have their own smarthome concepts. Tesla is building its first ‘Tesla-town’, an intelligent and sustainable suburb, in the Australian city of Melbourne. Google and Apple are working on more modest solutions that can be installed to monitor and control any home: Google Home and Amazon Echo not only coordinate all the ‘Home Devices’, they are also able to filter what we say to automatically order our shopping or take care of other household needs. The vision behind it is to order a pizza before we even knew we felt like eating one.
According to the providers, we don’t need to worry about TVs and other devices secretly observing our private lives. The devices only do this at the customer’s command. Protection of privacy in the home will certainly be a decisive selling point in the future. Anyone who wants to feel safer at home, or simply wants some peace and quiet, should take a closer look at the intelligent noise canceller by the name of Muzo.