Are Smart Homes Still All Talk and No Game?

-By Hashim Desai | [email protected]

All this talk about smart homes, but homes don’t seem to have gotten much smarter yet. The process is slow but it’s making inroads into the home. Google’s Home and Nest are making thermostats, tvs, and other devices much smarter, but there is still a lack of machine to machine communication between devices in the home. While most things aim to connect to the smartphone, there is still an untapped benefit of having devices connect to other devices. But for starters, what are some things in the home that can be much smarter than they are today?

Household appliances such as the washer, the dryer, microwave, oven, dishwasher, fridge, and stove are pretty dumb devices as it stands. What if the dishwasher could be started remotely? Or what if the status of your laundry could be checked on your phone? Can your fridge tell you when something is past its expiry date? Can the oven be preheated from miles away? Sure, some of these features may require that the products are redesigned from the ground up so that they contain the necessary sensors or actuators that are needed to perform these functions from your smart phone.

Further, if machines could communicate to other machines within the home, they would be much smarter. The thermostat could know not to heat up the house yet, as the oven and dryer are about to turn on. The dishwasher could be run only when electricity prices drop during off-peak hours. Is the car in the garage, have the plants been watered, which appliances are using the most electricity and can be shut off?

The possibilities are endless. It seems that the dominant and customer facing players are Google, Amazon, and Apple, with a host of much smaller players gaining traction to capitalize on the wave of new devices and capabilities. In 5 years, the home could look very different than it does today, but the transition may be slow as it will cost customers thousands to buy all the new products that are in store for them.

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