It was crazy to think there was a time that it had been called the smart home. She could not remember when the clever marketing sleight of hand happened and it had become the 'Connected Home'. She was living in it now though. It had become almost jarring in its normalcy.
People had laughed when the female head of DARPA announced her team had created energy packs that could power the hundreds of devices we all now owned. But they weren't like batteries, they were much more. She'd used that analogy so we could all get familiar with what was actually game-changing technology. She'd wrapped familiar context around it. Thank her stars she was as much a storyteller as she was a scientist, otherwise Motes would have died at the altar of contextless technologies like Google Glass and The Segway.
Motes. They sounded harmless enough at the time. No one expected such tiny things to disrupt the power utility business model. And so suddenly too. One day the utilities were pretending Motes did not make their assets obsolete, next day they were scrambling to license the technology.
Now it was everywhere. You didn't have to reorder when your supply of Motes ran out. The drones delivered it. Once you opened it they automatically spread throughout your home and took up their pre-programmed duties. They were self powering and could transfer some of their energy to the assigned device. Temp Motes measured your home temperature and communicated with your walls to increase or reduce the temperature because your Body Motes let the Wall Motes know that, even though today was a cold day, Jane was feeling terribly hot.
Jane laughed. She knew her Body Motes had already sent this information to Dr Seidler who'd now moved to South Carolina because New York was too crowded. He'd always complained about how crowded New York was. Once the mirrors in newly built homes became embedded with teleconferencing capability and the motes were mass market he could have 'house calls' from anywhere in the world Dr Seidler moved and was never coming back to New York. Truth be told Jane liked the new house calls too. She'd never liked doctor's offices. There was something about the perceived griminess of the magazines from the hundreds of unwashed hands flipping through when they came for their hospital visits that always made her feel less healthy when she walked out of the doctor's office than when she's walked in...
She went to the mirror to brush her teeth, touched up her hair and changed into a collared shirt but kept the pj bottoms on. It amazed her how, despite all the changes that technology had wrought, there were still clients in developing countries who frowned on casual 'work' clothes. They'd come round. She grew up in a time when it took about 5 or so years for technology and cultural transfer across the world. Now it took months. She needed it to happen sooner.
Poogle was shipping Virtual Reality headsets embedded with Energy Motes across the globe. The ambient experience in the VR headsets could not replace the 'normalcy' of sitting in front of a connected mirror for most people though. We still loved sitting in front of mirrors anyway. So maybe VR would not catch on. The energy requirements of an additional device in the home was also something that she knew would be an impediment. Despite the new wi-fi and low bluetooth energy requirements of all the devices, nothing could still beat a simple Virtual Mote that converted the mirror into wherever you wanted it to be..
Just as she was about to dial into her meeting from the mirror the robotic cleaner came on. She'd totally forgotten it activated once the Dirt Motes sensed dirt in the house. 'Albert off' she whispered. 'Resume in 45 minutes'. The whirring stopped. That was something else that wasn't going to change despite all the advances in technology; the whirring sound of the vacuum cleaning robot. The manufacturers (or the robots that worked in the manufacturing plant) had included sounds because, for some reason, we all still wanted to 'hear the house being cleaned'. Humans, we yearned for the simplest things..
She dabbed some more water on her face. She was still hot. She knew Dr Seidler's robot nurse would recommend a new food regimen for her once Body Mote sent the latest biomedical data to his office in the next 10 seconds. She'd rejected the 'all-in-one' tasteless food drinks. She still wanted to crunch carrots and cook her brown rice. She wondered what he'd add to her diet. She also wondered how quickly she'd adjusted to this knowledge that machines would know she was pregnant before her partner did.'Funny how easily we adjust to new things once we understand the benefits and it delivers on it's promise' she thought.
She waited for the delivery of fruits she knew the fridge had ordered since she'd run out this morning, lunch was in 3 hours but she was already hungry and needed a nibble. She was eating for 3 now. She selected a virtual key and it was transmitted to the food delivery drone, she remembered how different it was before we all got smart locks and had to wait for the UPS guy between 9 - 2pm missing half a work day waiting for a delivery.
The lights dimmed everywhere else in the house and would stay that way for the 45min duration of her meeting to conserve energy. Jane dialed into Abidjan for her meeting..
- Storytelling is how we add value and provide context to most things, especially technology. I could have written a simple but less compelling 'quick guide to connected homes'.
- The connected home is basically a network of devices that speak to one another to provide the basic needs we have; shelter, well being and safety.
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