The Evolution of Smart Home

Date: October 25, 2019

Author: Ipshita Biswas

Any device in your home that uses some amount of electricity is a potential candidate for the smart home ecosystem. Today, the emergence of the Internet of Things (IoT) is gradually making way for ‘things’ that, in their traditional forms, do not actually come under the purview of being controlled & configured by the internet like a pump, car engine or even non-electronic things like a faucet, etc. Thus, the set of internet-connected products is getting larger every day. This infographic is meant to give a brief idea of how smart devices entered our homes and how what was previously thought to be a page from a science fiction book became reality.

The timeline of the evolution of the smart home is quite interesting. The Industrial Revolution of the 1900s paved the way for the first home appliances. The introduction of the first vacuum cleaner in 1901 was followed by several other home devices like refrigerators, washing machines, clothes dryers, and electric dishwashers. These appliances were far from being called smart, but served as a stepping stone for what followed in the 20th century.

When we talk about smart home technologies, the mention of George Orwell’s 1984 is ubiquitous. Even though the book portrayed a dystopian future marked by mass surveillance and the end of privacy, what we still wonder about are the technological predictions mentioned in the book. Especially now, when the technological predictions are finally coming true, the discussion on the novel continues with even higher eagerness.

The novel, written in 1949, got adapted into a movie in 1984 and in the same year was mentioned in a popular television commercial which introduced Apple’s Macintosh PC. The advertisement said, “On January 24th, Apple Computer will introduce Macintosh. And you’ll see why 1984 won’t be like ‘1984’.” Among other predictions, the notable predictions in the novel that are related to smart home technologies are:

  • ‘Speakwrite’ - essentially a speech to text conversion tool that looks quite relatable with our present-day ‘Speech Recognition Software’, ‘Speech to Text Software’ and, of course, the ‘ Voice-Assistants’.
  • The capability of the ‘Telescreens’ to read facial expressions can be directly related to various developments in face recognition technologies to identify faces, detect emotions, activities, etc. This has wide applications in home security among other applications like Driver Monitoring, Attendance Tracking, etc.

In 1995, a science fiction book named ‘The Diamond Age’ portrayed a near-future world controlled by nanotechnology. One striking prediction this novel presented is of 3D printing. Though the concept presented was very different from what we have today, it nonetheless predicted a feasible technology of the future.

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