3 Requests for the Future Smart Home
Outdoor/Indoor, App Invisibility & Light-Awareness
Hi Laura & Panel from CG Trader. Getting tired of reading about Designing for the future: trends we need to consider now? Well apologies…here is one more. Geared toward some personal requests when it comes to the future of the smart home.
What exactly will my future smart home design technology look like? Well, I’m not exactly sure, but after researching for the Gravity Pad concept home, I still have some requests.
Request #1: Outdoor/Indoor Capability
Not sure if it’s a trend, but being able to work outside sounds really nice to me right now as a computer guy. And while this may fall more in the realm of specialized construction, rather than ‘smart home’, it’s still a smart feature. My first request is for better open air, indoor/outdoor offices. The birds, the fresh air…it’s a good feeling and experience when you spend 90% of your work day behind the screen.
One of the many challenges is office electronics are susceptible to outdoor elements. Anyone who has tried to operate a laptop while at the pool knows it doesn’t work. Sight, sound, touch are all affected by what weather conditions you are in. There are a lot of good things happening to devices, and I think it will get better still. So I’m considering or rather hoping that this weather friendly tech trend just gets better and better.
In order to accomplish the indoor/outdoor open air office space today, I think the solution is at best to get an Pod living system like above or be under a balcony with some kind of bug net. My friend Kenny pulled this off pretty well. He had a pool, mosquito screen, and three work monitors running. But I want to take this a step farther with my Gravity Pad concept office.
If the future smart home can open up ‘sports dome style’…I’d be all into that. I want to be able to push a button that automatically opens up not just extra large windows, but the entire ceiling and maybe even a wall or two. So as the weather closes in, I can enclose my entire office and still be able to work inside/outside without relocating.
So ya…my office needs a sunroof. And the tech needs to work better in outdoor conditions. Wind, Rain, Bird Chirps…you get the idea.
Request #2: Application Invisibility
This is written precisely for the smart home solution app of the future. I want you to do the job you were designed to do and stay out of my life as much as possible. I don’t want to login more than once a year, I don’t want to update your app, I don’t want to talk to your customer support. You are a constant interruption. Apps need to work, but work in the background.
Any good smart home technology based design trend should make my lifestyle easier, not more complex by having to spend a day or even 5 minutes troubleshooting.
In general, I think a sign of good design vs poor design is that the former adds to real…actual…life, while the later distracts us from it. And great tech design is so great that it does this in the background. Without the need to constantly login….without the awards & props…the marketing recognition…or the big living room wall which art gets to enjoy. Tech design should not call attention to itself, it should be invisible. And in it’s place…a human experience.
So if you have hardware that is going to require me to access you frequently, either be beautifully designed and fit into the design of that room, or you are getting penciled into a coat closet. Just be able to work from a tablet, give me all my settings in one place. And for sensors, cameras, fans….I would say the same thing. I don’t want to look at you, be invisible and hide somewhere in the home so no one ever sees you.
I suppose it’s ironic that my desire to increase human interaction (what I want to spend my time doing by not troubleshooting apps and settings) may require AI. Being that AI is quite the opposite of human to human interaction. It will be interesting to see how that pans out.
Request #3: Complete Lighting Control
I would like to see incredibly advanced lighting controls. Ideally, I want to control the entire home lighting to shine exactly where, when, how, what color, and when the time is right. Without having to touch a thing. So that in the middle of the night when I get hungry, I can roll out of bed and a small ground lighting unit pops on. A sensor (maybe in the floor or built into the home…see Request #2) sees where I’m standing but the light does not shine in my eyes because it knows it’s in the middle of the night and my eyes have yet to adjust to brightness. If I make a move to the bathroom…light follows me there. If I make a move to the kitchen it illuminates my pathway. And ultimately my interior cabinet where I stash the Oreos.
The technology to do this is here today. Sensors can be worked into the home construction, lights are still a simple on-off-dim, and cabinet lighting has been around for a while now. When the lighting system is in place, it’s up to the light bulb itself to be the right color and brightness. Sometimes you don’t want a white light. Maybe a subtle purple or blue hue to match the right feel of the kitchen at that particular time of night.
It may appear to be challenging and an obscene waste of money to make an entire smart home connected to this degree, but when you think about it…it has the potential to actually save energy costs by only illuminating the lights I need for just as long as I need them. Plus I’m not banging into walls and stepping on my dog while I look for the switch in the middle of the night. It’s a win win. Maybe not for my dog though…she might go insane as the sensors follow her around too.
Let me know in the comments if you have any suggestions for that single ‘truly-great-all-encompassing-designer-friendly-solution’ for total smart home control. That would be nice so I can sit back and work in my open air office with ‘auto-light-a-wareness’. Is that a word?
For now, the time & resources evade me. All I can do is sit back and hope for my complete smart home solution with home sun-roof to hit the shelves in about 15-20 years.