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 In Lifestyle

Smart Homes of the not-so-distant future

While it may sound a little far-fetched, much of this perfect domestic scenario is already available, or technically possible, thanks to advances in automation, voice and facial recognition and biometric technology.

Imagine a future where you drive towards your garage which automatically opens. No need for a house key as your security system recognises you. Your home is at the temperature you desire and your calming aromatherapy scent is drifting through the hallway. Music is playing at the perfect level and your bath is almost full and toasty warm. Your puppy greets you and is happy and content as he has been kept amused all day with various activities and treats delivered via his special automated program. Lucky you left that voice memo for yourself as you open the pantry – “a minute on the lips, a lifetime on the hips” it politely says. Before you get into the bath you step on your biometric scales which give you the thumbs up, except for advising you’re a little dehydrated. You place a bottle of water beside your glass of champagne and as you slide into the bath, the lights dim and the music changes to coastal chill.

While it may sound a little far-fetched, much of this perfect domestic scenario is already available, or technically possible, thanks to advances in automation, voice and facial recognition and biometric technology. Soren Norgaard who manages Australia’s leading technology systems integration trade show, Integrate, says luxury homes are already incorporating state-of-the-art automation systems.

“Tech savvy home owners are already automating common household utilities such as lights, door locks, alarms, heating and cooling appliances, irrigation and security systems via applications on their phones,” said Norgaard.

“Voice control in the home is currently a battle between Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa so we will see many advances in this area over the coming years,” he said. However there already are a host of features that many people don’t use yet, such as the Google broadcast feature which sends an audio message to all the other Assistant enabled speakers in the house, letting friends and family know that food is ready.

At this year’s Integrate show Sony is displaying its Sonic Surf VR which provides spotlights of individual sound sources you can position within a space. While this is currently used mainly in galleries and museums, there is a potential future domestic application. “In the home you could create sound spotlights that don’t need headphones – useful for those who watch television or game without disturbing others”, he said. “The audio is remarkably crisp, clear and life-like thanks to the advanced multi-speaker array and powerful digital processing.”

“Tech savvy home owners are already automating common household utilities such as lights, door locks, alarms, heating and cooling appliances, irrigation and security systems via applications on their phones,”

The idea of leaving voice messages for your children or spouse in various parts of the home sounds ideal. More effective than a sticky note, when your teenager moves through the kitchen there’s your voice reminding him to put dirty dishes in the dishwasher. When your spouse enters the garage there’s a reminder it’s bin night.

“The smart home also has advantages for caring for elderly parents who wish to live at home. It’s possible to check in remotely and ensure they’re ok, make sure the fridge is stocked, the temperature is correct and this all offers peace of mind,” said Norgaard.

Our fur babies will also benefit from technological advances. “Many people are hesitant to leave their dogs at home all day while they work so the smart home may deliver a range of activities for pets,” said Norgaard. Imagine an eight-hour program which included activities such as gentle fetch and chasing laser pointers with sound and visual experiences, music and also times for rest. There’s even tech being developed that will allow your pet to call you on your phone by standing in a certain trained position in the house. When you arrive home your pet’s collar will provide you data on activity levels and overall health.

For supercharged helicopter parenting, you may even like to take inspiration from a school in China which monitors student attentiveness via facial recognition. Every 30 seconds each student’s face is checked to ensure they are paying attention in class and you may consider a similar system above your teenager’s bedroom desk.

Just imagine lazing away in your bath at the end of the day and being politely alerted that your teen had switched from homework to playing Fortnite. You take a sip of your champagne and say “OK Google – switch Alex back to homework”.

Integrate is a technology systems Integration trade show running August 22-24 at the ICC Sydney
www.integrate-expo.com

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