The future was at our front door – now it’s come inside.
Like any city, Toronto gobbles electricity. Cars, houses, buildings, and 2.6 million people, all using billions of watts of energy. These numbers can only be expected to rise. Every month means new technologies are available for consumers, offering new methods to communicate and interact with people and the world around us. Among the most exciting of these new avenues is smart home technology integration. With a simple look at Amazon’s new Smart Home department – “Smart home, smart life” – one can see that what was once the appetizer of the future is now the entrée of the present. Among the radical new smart features available for consumers to integrate into their lives are thermostats, light bulbs, locks, and audio setups. Within this decade, there will be new markets opening up for home improvement – one for every room in the house.
The city of Toronto is among many wetting their feet in the wave of the future. Already, prospective home buyers can browse through lists of smart homes, boasting lights controlled by tablets and fingerprint sensitive doorknobs. It seems there is no region of our lives that technology cannot seamlessly integrate into – and Toronto is not the exception. So just what can a family experience in the new realm of smart living? Perhaps your day goes something like this:
You wake up to the smell of coffee, prepared by the machine that knows when you wake up, thanks to a connection to the clock app on your phone. The lights start out dim so as not to hurt your eyes, but eventually brighten enough to firmly establish that it’s time to get up. You open the door to the bathroom, and the shower starts up, making sure the water is hot by the time you step in. You favorite music for mornings, be it your own tunes or a curated list from your preferred internet radio source. Speakers in each room makes sure that no part of your routine need be done in silence. You grab your coffee, and when you do the music switches to a news report to keep you informed on the day ahead. Noting you are low on milk, you tap a quick shopping list into the monitor on the fridge, knowing the items will be delivered to your doorstep at the exact time you expect to arrive home. The intricate web of security cameras around your property assure that you won’t have to worry about your groceries being disturbed. You step out the door, feeling refreshed and confident, liberated from the hassle of a frantic morning.
This idealistic vision is closer to reality than ever before. Samsung Electronics is working with a Toronto condo developer to introduce a new standard of living for the digital age. Owners of these condos can control various aspects of the house via an app on their phone – everything from door locks and the thermostat to the dryer and stove. Imagine a future where your entire breakfast is waiting for you when you awake, with no human effort needed. It’s the room service of a new era, and its closer than you think.
The proponents of smart technology for home integration are not just companies touting the latest gadgets, but rather masses of consumers, now potential customers. Studies show that over 60% of consumers would like at least on smart device in their home, be it a TV, fridge, thermostat, or any other of the wide range of possible appliances. Rob Currie of Telus, the company that commissioned the study, says that the potential uses of technology in the home are not yet recognized as potent market forces. Once we understand that this technology can be used anywhere at any time, consumers will be eager to welcome the new possibilities across the threshold and into their lives. Clearly the openings for domestic tech are already here.
Perhaps the reason smart technology hasn’t quite caught on yet is that consumers don’t anticipate the wide range of uses for the tech. Not only can homeowners save money and energy, the top two interests listed by participants in the study, but they can also manage their household while on vacation and even increase the value of their home – some respondents said they’d stack on another $10,000 for a house equipped with smart home technology or appliances.
Perhaps the most surprising – and encouraging – result of the study is that some 34% of Canadians already own a smart device, with the majority being televisions. However, as wireless access opens up more appliances and areas of the house for the Internet of Things, those numbers may change rapidly. For example, take the new Family Hub Refrigerator. Gone are the days of peeling magnets and illegible shopping lists. The Family Hub boasts a large 21.5 inch monitor, allows anyone in the family to easily and seamlessly order food or even movies, making family movie night quickly filled with delight for our eyes and mouths. The uses are endless – watch a movie while preparing food, get real-time news reports while preparing for work, or just set the speakers to play your favorite songs. And remember – this is just a refrigerator. When you take into consideration the plethora of devices around your home, most of them only good for one or two functions, you can clearly see the myriad potential uses for these machines. So will the massive market of consumers hungry for the next big piece of tech to add into their everyday lives.
For decades, we thought that fancy gadgets seen on shows like The Jetsons were forever relegated to the land of fantasy. Now, we know that these devices, ready for use in every room and any time of our lives, are out there waiting for the proper implementation. It could be a washing machine that warms your clothes for you when it detects your getting up, or a shower that slowly gets colder to make you save water. Any way you look, the realm of smart technology for the home is ever expanding, and bustling with opportunity.
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