You’re reclining comfortably in your smart car, watching the bright lights of the city pass by as you head home after a long day at work.
“Siri? What’s for dinner?” you ask, wondering if the milk will last until the grocery delivery tomorrow.
“Good evening. Based on your glucose levels, calories burned, and daily intake goals, you currently have mahi-mahi steaks and kale salad that will meet your daily nutritional requirements.”
“How’s the milk situation?”
“Siri, order me milk. And pizza.”
“If you eat three slices of pepperoni pizza, you will have exceeded your maximum calorie consumption for today —”
“Just order me pizza.”
“I can’t do that, Dave.”
Too add insult to injury, Siri sends a small electric shock through your fitness tracker, and you curse quietly — just in case she’s listening.
You sit back and wish you hadn’t installed the IronWill app. You authorized — no, demanded — that you would stick to a healthy diet, and here you are: being electrocuted by a non-sentient entity who won’t order you pizza. But on the plus side, your blood pressure is down and you’ve lost two pounds this week.
“Siri. Order me milk, and preheat the oven.”
“Siri, report on my house.”
“Currently, your house is in shutdown mode, with an internal temperature of 79 degrees Fahrenheit.”
“Bring it down to 72 Fahrenheit before my arrival. Please analyse my stress levels.”
“Your pulse is currently at 86 bpm, slightly higher than normal, which indicates stress. Hue lighting is set to soothe.”
“Thank you, Siri.”
As your car pulls into the driveway, your house lights up and the front door opens. A carton of milk is sitting on the doorstep. Siri has already tipped the Postmates driver, confirmed in a text message. As you enter, the door automatically shuts behind you without as much as a creak. You haven’t lifted a finger, and all you feel is the welcome relief of coming home. The air is a fresh 72 degrees Fahrenheit, just how you like it.
The lights are set to a low warm hue, and you marvel at how you really can’t see the green tint of the algae bulbs at all. Music plays intuitively as you walk through the rooms to the kitchen.
Moley, your robot chef, has already begun to prepare your meal. Once the fish has been seasoned, you put it into the oven — which immediately analyzes the meal and begins to cook it without any further prompts. You can relax: the oven will turn off when the fish has finished cooking. The kale salad is already ready, but a glass of wine sounds more appetizing. Especially with the notable absence of pizza.
“A glass of wine, Sir?”
You jump out of your skin, and turn around to face Alfred — although Alfred doesn’t really have a face, so to speak. Alfred is a robot butler. Top of the line, but his ability to silently appear behind you can be somewhat unnerving.
“After my steam, Alfred.”
Up in the bathroom, you program your iSteam shower to 15 minutes. A little window pops up and prompts you to choose your aromatherapy scent for the day. Tranquil Lily, Ocean Breeze, or Energetic Zapper. You definitely don’t want the Zapper, and opt for Tranquil Lily.
iSteam stops after 15 minutes, and the fan automatically sucks away all of the remaining steam. Your Panasonic smart mirror lights up as you approach it. Blue icons roll onto the screen. Your skin elasticity and appearance could be improved by ordering Second Skin. Would you like to place your order?
You wave away the ad prompt, but silently consider it. While you’re waiting to be auto-dryed, you play around with different hairstyles and facial hair on the smart mirror. You actually look great with a beard.
Downstairs, Alfred is waiting for you with a glass of wine. The wine is a 2007 Ovid Red, which was opened last month on your birthday. Thanks to Kuvée, a smart wine bottle, it’s still fresh as a daisy.
You’re still not hungry, and turn on your Aura to indulge in some R and R with Magic Leap. It’s still slightly alarming to have terrifyingly realistic zombies infiltrate your living room, so you decide to play with your pet dragon instead. The dragon flickers to life, and as your drink wine, you can play fetch with your augmented reality pet.
After a half hour of this, you have dinner. Alfred brings it to you, and you coordinate your schedule with your staff of robots for the next day. You set your coffee and wake-up lighting for 6 a.m.
You’ve stopped trying to pick out your own clothes; your closet scans your itinerary and weather to find the right outfit for the next day. Your girlfriend coordinates her smart closet with her Pinterest account to assemble stylish looks, and you have a hankering suspicion she’s linked her Pinterest with your closet, based on the amount of V-necked cashmere sweaters your closet has started ordering.
Your Eight mattress cover knows your preferred settings for optimal sleep quality, and has slightly warmed your bed, which helps you fall asleep faster. It also knows how to wake you up when you’re in your lightest sleep stage, so mornings aren’t the struggle they used to be. Tomorrow, you can read a detailed report of your sleep patterns, although by now you already know them.
And in a matter of minutes, you’re asleep and lost in dreams.
From Science Fiction To Reality
The idea of a home powered by futuristic technologies may cause some trepidation for acolytes of Ray Kurzweil or Isaac Asimov. Are we really ready to hand over our lives to apps and robots? Nobody wants Alfred the Robot Butler to take after Tay, Microsoft’s ill-fated A.I program.
But if you think we have years to iron out the kinks in roboethics, think again. The revolution has already begun, and it’s called the Internet of Things (IoT) — a network of interconnected technologies that will form our future. By 2020, 10 million cars on the road will be self-driving, and 50% of our homes will be equipped with smart technology.
As you may have deciphered from the above videos, nearly all of the technology in this futuristic story is already here — or at least available for pre-order.
Sure, there are concerns around running a household that has the capability to think for itself. Can it be hacked? What would happen in a powercut? What if Alfred decided that the three laws of robotics no longer applied to him? Google’s self-driving cars have already piledrived one model into a bus, after all.
But we have to weigh the risks of smart homes and the Internet of Things against our current “dumb” homes, which inherently come with a bevvy of hazards. IoT could solve some of these issues, and prevent many unnecessary deaths and accidents.
Every two minutes, somebody is injured in a drunk driving accident. 28 people are killed by drunk drivers every day. A self-driving car immediately eliminates the issue of drunk driving.
There are 2 million home burglaries every year, and 30% of those are caused by leaving doors and windows unlocked. An automated home security system could prevent that, and create an alert anytime an unknown person walks on to your driveway. Alfred could also potentially be programmed to firmly escort any unwanted guests off the premises.
There are 369,500 home fires every year. Smart homes could automatically turn off fire risks — like ovens and hair straighteners. By monitoring air pollution and temperature, your home would call the fire department for you in the event of a fire.
Every year, 430 people die from accidental carbon monoxide poisoning due to gas leaks. Foobot could sense a gas leak as soon as a tiny amount of carbon monoxide enters the air.
It’s estimated that we spend approximately two hours a day doing chores such as cooking and cleaning. That equates to nearly a whole month every year devoted to boring activities. Hand it over to Siri, and you have an extra month a year to spend relaxing, learning, or socializing. Not too shabby.
As far as IoT and smart homes go, we’re still in our technological infancy. Trying to project twenty years into the future is as futile as trying to imagine the iPhone back when we were playing Snake on a monolithic Nokia.
But if our current advancements are anything to go by, the future will undoubtedly be a far cry from anything we can currently imagine. We have no idea what technologies will be as ubiquitous to our lives as air — and that, above all else, is endlessly exciting.