The Connected Home
Chris Cellettion 08 January, 2015
Many of the devices and features at CES have historically centered around mobility. Smartphones and tablets have allowed us to enjoy entertainment and productivity tools wherever we go. That’s still a focus, but there seems to be a bit of a sea change this year. With robotics and the Internet of Things so prevalent, it seems as though many devices and processes are geared towards improving our lives at home.
Some of the robotics exist purely for enjoyment. Many people have had a fun time playing beer pong against a robot this week in Vegas, and while that might help you throw the coolest party when your parents are out of town, there are plenty of robotics that could be helping your folks in their everyday home lives. On Wednesday, 5 Elements Robotics unveiled a robot designed to carry things, called the Budgee Bot. With a basket that can hold up to 50 pounds, the Budgee can help the elderly or disabled by following them around their house, thanks to wireless sonic technology. Heck, maybe it can help the young buck transport all the leftover beer cans from the beer pong table to the trash during the next day’s cleanup.
Robotics can surely help around the home, but the possibilities will be endless when robotics merge with the Internet of Things. Tech startup August is launching their newest product this week, a gadget called August Connect. August Connect is a step up from the company’s initial smart door lock, which utilized short-range bluetooth technology to connect to a user’s in-range smartphone. Now, enabled with wi-fi, August Connect has the ability to connect other devices within the home with its smart locks. There are a few major benefits here. Firstly, someone can tell by looking on their smartphone whether or not their doors are locked, and lock them if need be. Also, a consumer could unlock their doors while hundreds of miles away in the case of an emergency, virtually “buzzing in” a friend or family member, say, if they fear they left the stove on. And let’s say someone did leave the stove on; what if their door locks were connected to a “smart stove”, so that the stove automatically turned off when the doors were locked and the person left the home? Smart devices and inter-connectivity will give a new meaning to peace of mind.
But let’s not entirely cast entertainment aside. If tasks and utility are a big part of the home of the future, entertainment is surely right there with it. To this end, this week Sony has been giving tours of Life Space UX, their fully connected model home. In the home, essentially every wall and surface is a screen, a workable space for adults or a mess-free play place for kids; yes, no more rubbing crayons off the wall, because kids will be able to color on surfaces with their fingers and have their wonderful art wiped away with the click of a button. Not all bedrooms are perfectly configured for comfortable television viewing, but as long as you have an unblocked view of the ceiling, there’s no worry: videos from your smartphone can play on any wall, so you can binge-watch Game of Thrones simply by lying down and looking up. Fahrenheit 451 concerns aside, our entertainment may soon be available for us to watch literally anywhere in our home.
When meshed together, these products won’t drastically alter our home lives, changing them completely, but the result has a chance to significantly improve them. Lights, televisions, and stereos that turn on and off as we enter and exit rooms, thermostats that switch on right as we pull into our driveway, access to all these devices when we’re not home; menial tasks can be eliminated and slips of the mind will be able to be remedied remotely. When we’re spending less time operating things in our home or worrying about them when we’re away, we’ll have more time and a clearer head to enjoy being there.