Yesterday, Google unveiled its newest product: OnHub. While technically a network router, it was also subtly a building block of Google own ambition to be the center of your home. And the search giant is hardly the only one. Somewhat a subset of the so-called Internet of Things that aims to connect anything and everything to the net, smart homes and smart appliances have become the byword of many tech companies as well as appliance makers. But are we really on the cusp of making that hi-tech future a reality? Or are we still taking baby steps?
The Dream
It’s not hard to imagine the ideal home of the future. You have appliances that know how to turn themselves on or off at the proper time, saving energy by shutting down when you’re out and then warming or cooling things when you’re just about to arrive. It knows your preferences and maybe even your moods, playing just the right songs or lighting up with the right color when the situation calls for it. And all of this can be controlled from the convenience of your smartphone or even your smartwatch, whether you’re in the house or in another city. A house that can think for itself so that you wouldn’t have to, to save on energy and to offer luxurious, convenient living.
The Reality
Today, we do have device and appliances that do, or at least promise, just that. From smart bulbs to smart thermostats to smart plugs, we have a variety of products all clamoring for attention, trying to claim a piece of the IoT pie before it becomes too crowded for companies to make a distinction. And we already have a wide variety of brands already playing on the field, both from the tech industry as well as consumer electronics and appliances. Google, Apple, Nest, ZTE, GE, Philips, Honeywell, Logitech, and IKEA, just to name a few. And those are just the more established names. Head on over to Kickstarter or Indiegogo and be inundated with the number of smart home ideas all vying for your patronage.