Forget the smart gadgets. The ultimate home automation appliance is the house itself.
“The network is the computer.”
That’s the old Sun Microsystems slogan coined by Sun computer scientist and researcher John Gage. The slogan predated cloud computing, but it’s a great way to envision the cloud idea.
I think the successful model for home automation is where the home has intelligence built in, and where the house itself is “smart,” with sensors and brains, while other devices simply add capability. The idea of a smart home is a smart idea when the home is built smart from the start.
Here’s the first step: We need homes designed architecturally and otherwise with automation built in, not as an afterthought, but as a primary objective.
When we first got power
When you buy a house, you expect it to be wired for electricity, and for electrical appliances to be built in as well — ceiling lights, a water heater, a furnace, a washer and a dryer. Of course, this expectation didn’t exist before 100 years ago.
At first, homes were simply wired with electricity — the walls got outlets. But over time, new home construction assumed certain behaviors around electrical appliances. At one time, bathrooms didn’t have outlets, but now they always do, thanks to electric shavers, toothbrushes, blow dryers and other devices.
In short, our homes “learned” to embrace the electrical revolution by design, and not just with the provision of outlets.
I think the same thing is going to happen with the home automation revolution.
A smart home where the home is actually smart
A startup called Brain of Things is making what it calls “Robot Homes” in California. The homes are actually apartments with built-in fixtures and hidden, integrated sensors that enable the homes to adapt to the owner’s lifestyle and preferences using machine-learning algorithms.
What’s needed, and what’s new about the Brain of Things approach, are homes that are built from the very start for integrated home automation.
In a real smart home, the home is really smart.