´Connected home´: The next big technology revolution?
The age of the connected home is upon us with texting fridges voice-controlled lights - but are we ready for it?
Everything's smart these days: Smart phones, smart TVs, smart watches, smart fridges and smart washing machines.
Together these connected devices are combining to create the smart home.
What is the connected home?
The smart home is a home filled with devices and gadgets that talk to one another. Smart primarily means connected - generally via the internet.
The idea underpinning the smart home is that you can control your devices and appliances remotely.
Benefits of the connected home: run your home from your phone
Samsung and LG have led the way when it comes to pioneering the connected home. Both have a series of appliances such as smart washing machines and fridges that you can activate or monitor from the office, bus or another room.
Here are the key points of both firms' services:
Benefits of the connected home: LG HomeChat
- Use your smartphone to write text messages to your appliances. Write a message to your fridge saying 'is there any beer?' for example and it will reply
- You communicate with your appliances through a chat app, so it understands the way we naturally speak
- The HomeChat fridge contains a camera that takes a photo of its contents whenever you open or shut its doors
- Fridge can also monitor the shelf life of the food you put inside it
- Start your washing from the office, and ask how far it is through its cycle
Benefits of the connected home: Samsung
- Control appliances such as washing machines, lights and smart TVs through a smartphone app
- Has voice command feature - say "going out" into your Galaxy Gear smartwatch and the home lighting and TV will be switched off
- With Home View feature you can look at the inside of your house while you're out. Appliances and TVs have built-in cameras that relay footage to your smartphone
- Services run on selected TVs, tablets and the Gear smartwatch
The connected home - what the experts think
We caught up with an expert from Stuff magazine to see whether connected appliances are on their way to average home.
His answer? Not just yet.
Will Findlater, editor in chief at Stuff, said smart appliances could in the future become a mainstream success but added that at the moment they're still primarily niche.
Taking the connected home into every home
Will said that although the features of many of the current smart appliances are very useful, they still appeal to a "niche, tech-obsessed audience".
We asked him what would take the connected home into every home, and he made the following suggestion:
"A real life-enhancing step forward might be a fridge that monitors your use of its contents over time, builds a profile for you, and orders groceries when you need them, organising delivery for a time it knows you'll be at home."
He said this wouldn't be without challenges - the need for a barcode scanner, times when you're away from home on holiday - but added that if they could be overcome we'd have "a fridge that removes a chore from daily life".
He said: "There's every reason to expect appliances that make our lives easier to eventually become a mainstream success."
What do you think of the idea of texting your fridge about beer? Let us know in the comments below…