As a result of advances in sophisticated artificial intelligence and machine learning, automation and augmented reality, the Internet landscape is undergoing massive change.
It’s no longer just about accessing information via electronic devices such as laptops, smartphones, and tablets. From toasters to transit systems, we are now in the age of the ‘Internet of Things,’ where interconnected devices and objects are fully networked and communicate data back and forth. Devices and objects learn from these data exchanges and adapt and respond to our personal needs and preferences.
I’m researching a new book, and one of the terms I’ll be dealing with is “domotics.” Domotics (from the Latin word domus, meaning house), combines domus with robotics, and is the term used to describe all phases of smart home technology.
Domotics is the process or set of tools that comprises all the information technology, electrotechnics and electronics, including highly sophisticated sensors and controls that monitor and automate temperature, lighting, security systems, and many other aspects of a smart home.
A smart house is one where these highly automated systems govern the kind of functions listed above. The list doesn’t stop there. The integration of these technologies goes beyond obvious tasks such as turning lights off and on at pre-programmed times or automatically adjusting air conditioning or heating. Highly advanced systems will allow us to monitor and inventory the foodstuffs in our fridges, track menus and meal plans and routinely order groceries, for example.
In an article for ThoughtCo, a leading online reference and education site, author Jackie Craven suggests that “the smart home systems might even ensure a continuously cleaned cat litter box or a house plant that is forever watered.”
Extending the implications of this, wearable (or implanted?) sensors may be able to monitor who is in the home, and where, adjusting the environment based on the needs and preferences of the wearer.
We already use such tracking devices to keep track of iPhones, keys, and pets. How might this improve the lifestyle of the elderly aging-in-place, or people with disabilities?
As well, many of us are already employing smart technologies as part of a regular domestic routine. You probably already have a smart thermostat, or a garage door that will automatically close. Does your coffeepot come on at a prescheduled time in the morning? These are examples of embedded smart technology. Smart speaker sales are booming, and double-digit growth is expected over the next five years in home network hubs such as Amazon’s Alexa or Google Home.
There is still some distance to go in terms of an efficient and affordable fully networked smart home. Even though appliances and devices are equipped with the necessary microchips and enabling technology, the tools and protocols are not standardized to enable devices with different vendor origins to communicate effectively. Yet.
Smartphone apps, communication hubs and cloud-based services are already enabling us to control many elements of domestic life remotely. Full integration is not far behind.