Will advanced IoT technology covert smart home into Alvin Toffler's electronic cottage?
July 26, 2021
Alvin Toffler, an American writer, futurist, and businessman, has depicted the electronic cottage in his famous book "The Third Wave," written in1980. He stated that the world has moved from the 2nd wave(industrial revolution) to the3rd wave(information revolution) in post-industrial society. And thanks to the advancement of IoT technology, the smart home will be the center of all human endeavour and activities such as work, leisure, and shopping.
The smart home concept was visualised vividly in cartoon animated television series “The Jetsons” in 1962 on ABC (American Broadcasting Corporation). But the genesis of a smart home is rooted in the 1st quarter of 20th century when electricity run domestic appliances entered the domestic sphere and reduced human drudgery, and saved time. And in the 21st-century introduction of IoT, embedded devices, ubiquitous connectivity(4G&5G), advanced Wi-Fi 6, advanced smart sensors, and better interoperability among digital devices have created an ideal condition for adopting the smart home.
Smart homes (with intelligent appliances, intelligent work surface, smart floor, video walls, voice recognition)automate domestic tasks, reduce labour, save time, reduce electricity consumption and provide safety, security, convenience, and entertainment. Furthermore, the advent of the smart grid, demand response, energy storage, and smart appliances have created possibilities to link domestic appliances with the grid. The advanced smart home must fit into the morality of the home, the economics of time, and the psychology of space.
It improves security, capacity, and data rates with better connectivity to support different protocols (Zigbee, Z-Wave, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth).AI-based biometrical authentication, computer vision, and voice-controlled smart devices using NLP engines to understand speech will radically enhance the smart home functionality.
But the application of AI and ML such as object and facial recognition, voice command, learning, computer vision and natural language processing will transform smart homes and create possibilities for automated domestic tasks based on occupants' habits, preferences, and daily activities. The control system will interpret and respond to complex external stimuli such as people and their activities. The smart home will automate tasks, delegate control from dwellers to the technology, and provide comfort, convenience, security, and entertainment.
Normally, people allocate their time between paid work, unpaid work(domestic tasks, caring for children and elders), leisure, education, personal and biological maintenance(grooming, eating, and sleeping).But hectic schedule of modern working culture, unsystematic housekeeping and unevenly split domestic tasks consume huge of home dwellers. In that sense, a smart home can be a boon for the working population as it reduces the time for domestic tasks and releases time for leisure. Furthermore with assistive technology such as handheld devices and wearable IoT device smart home will enhance the capacity of elders (with a debilitating chronic health condition) and people with different abilities. It will enable them to develop independent living skills and allows them to back into the community.
The smart house should not be a modern Panopticon, where every moment and activity is recorded and monitored. But the dweller must have control over the smart home to protect his privacy. Furthermore, it should not make occupant couch potatoes where technology does every task and occupant does nothing, severely affecting his/her health. It should create positive interdependency rather than dependency on technology. In that sense, the dweller must have the liberty to decide which task should be automated or not. A modular approach enables dwellers to add a device or system with additional functionality depending upon changing needs or product reach the end of the life cycle.
Recent advance in IoT has spurred the growth of net banking, online shopping, and online education. Furthermore, the Covid pandemic has increased WFH (Work From Home). In this altered scenario, Alwin Toffler's prediction regaring smart home as an electronic cottage has confirmed. as it not only provides comfort, safety, security, and entertainment but also provides market(online shopping), banking(online banking), education(online education) but also workplace (WFH).