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Today I asked the light in my living room to flash red when someone tags me in a photo on Facebook. And when my boss writes me multiple emails over the weekend a song from the Old School Hip Hop House Party Spotify playlist goes off: max volume, naturally.
But I jest, as none of this is true. What is true (and rather surprising) is that it’s not out of my reach. Here, today, at home, even with the technological expertise of my humanities degree.
Over the course of the next few year’s you’ll have a permanent guest at home. Or at least that’s what the pundits think after checking out CES in Las Vegas, the home of futuristic consumer tech that was held last week.
There are already three names in play. Siri, the headliner for Apple products, in its splendid integration with HomeKit. Alexa, the first Amazonian from the sales giant based out of Seattle to have a name and voice. Or John Doe, also known as Google Assistant, Mountain Views’ answer to your every need.
The house will be connected and online, accessible anywhere. Connections between devices, remote voice-control commands, event planning, home theatre, power-saving features, all due to the If This Then That (IFTTT) real-time actions and responses. Just like lights that react to online cues or sensors that can take note of a gloomy day.
Apple’s HomeKit is actually an attempt to create a reference system, 100% integrated with iPhone and iPad and able to communicate to other devices such as thermostats, baby and pet monitors, washing machines and refrigerators of thousands of different brands. You can tell them that you're on your way home or change the lighting when you’re about to start a movie on Apple TV.
Google Home and Amazon Echo, however, also have two devices in their own right, equipped with microphones and loudspeakers. They wait for you at home and allow you to get in direct contact with your virtual home assistant for any sort of information. Or even just to stream a little music.
The idea of having your entire house connected hasn’t always been so appealing. The technology, the charm of the cameras, the sense of control - and perhaps a certain invasion of our privacy – have all been the driving force in the computerization of domestic lives. The Philips Hue light bulbs and the Nest thermostat (a company recently acquired by Google) are the first acclaimed successes in recent years.
In five years the house will welcome us upon arrival and take care of everything else, from the fridge to laundry, from blinds to lights, from watering the garden to much more. Now that all the Silicon Valley giants are in play, a technological advancement is guaranteed.
In the future no one will be alone, really alone, at home. At least until Spike Jonze’s Her comes to life and, once again, humans will go back to the drawing board.