The OS: Into our homes, hearts
Our brains are wired for interpersonal relations. Human-to-human contact reduces depression, anxiety, and a host of psychological concerns. When a child exhibits facial expressions that are more reminiscent of adults, there’s usually a cute relation to it. When a cat brushes up against you and purrs when you rub it, there’s a feeling of mutual connection. As adults, we connect with these as-if experiences – they’re so adult-like.
Automated devices can be adult-like, too – mimicking that human-to-human experience and connection. In the recent film, Her, a lonely man falls in love with an operating system (“OS”). The OS predicts his needs, sends and organizes emails, and offers romantic companionship. The main character, Theodore, loves the anticipatory brilliance and personality of the device. Suddenly, this inanimate object becomes a vital part of his life – personally and professionally.
After watching the movie, a friend of mine asked if that predictive, assistive, and somewhat convivial system could ever exist. It made me chuckle. Frankly, these capabilities are nearly a reality and they’re going to lead to tremendous savings.
Beyond suggestions, you’ll find automation
If you ask Apple’s Siri (personal assistant software) how long it takes to drive from point A to point B, it’ll plainly explain how long and offer a map. The directions will account for changing traffic patterns, as well. Looking for the latest showtimes and reviews? Just ask Google Now and it’ll give you all the local theaters, films, and reviews. They all are at your service, waiting for your questions, concerns, and comments.
If an application can predict what you might like next (and is incentivized to offer paid suggestions), you’ll likely hear about some special deal at your favorite local restaurant. This could lead to budgetary problems from predictive advertising for some consumers, but there’s another side that is far more positive, environmentally friendly, economical, and a true productivity booster.
The power of smart homes, technology
If you’re a discerning automation expert, you may realize that asking a question and getting a simple response aren’t quite the same as engaging in full-length dialogue (back and forth) with a software package. This Her-like capability is coming to many devices. It’s going to completely revolutionize our homes, heads, and hearts.
Imagine walking up to your apartment/house, seeing the lights turn on, feeling the heat match your immediate needs, seeing the oven beginning to preheat (knowing that you got your favorite type of take-and-bake pizza); all the while, a virtual assistant checks in with you to see how your day went. This is the not so distant future.
By automating the simple tasks and leaving them to computers, we can appreciate from electricity, heating, and gas savings. Have you ever left your house’s air conditioning or heating on too high while away? How many times do you accidentally leave lights on in your house after you leave? These forgetful moments can seriously hurt your bottom line. Smart homes can predict and prevent these errors.
A few devices are already leading to serious savings. For instance, Nest has created a thermostat and smoke detector that can communicate with each other. Used in conjunction, these devices can tell when you’re presently in your home – changing the temperature to something more economical when you leave. All of it is automatic – no more adjustments. The thermostat can even be locked to prevent tampering. By properly controlling your thermostat, you can save $173 a year.
By allowing these devices into our home, we can actually be safer and more prepared if anything happens. The Nest Protect (smoke detector) sends alerts if it senses smoke and/or carbon monoxide. This is just the beginning of a serious technological evolution. The future will bring these systems in unison, and give them a voice.
The future looks frugal
There are many players in the smart home market. This has led to fractured, expensive devices. Companies are investing billions to create automation technologies with sharp designs, but they aren’t universally connected – they can’t necessarily communicate with other systems. This is where competition can hurt innovation.
These tech stalwarts and startups are battling for space in your home. Google has been on a buying spree – getting everything from Nest Labs to Boston Dynamics (a robotics company). Apple is developing and modifying Siri constantly – aiming to make it more interactive and available. Each of these iterations will further a sci-fi reality that includes a smarter home.
As the leaders emerge and prices begin to fall, the demands that technology and regular household devices ask of us will swiftly decline. We should have more time for work, family, and enjoying what’s really important in life. This the essence of frugality and it’s coming to fruition one smart device at a time.
In case you haven’t seen Her, here’s the trailer: