Sometimes, it seems that talking about home automation is doing it in the future tense. Nothing is further from reality, because the incorporation of computer and communication technology into the home occurred many years ago. A quite different thing is that indeed, the future is very promising.
We could say that, broadly speaking, we would have to go back to the 1950s to see the first home automation ingenuity. It is credited to the inventor Jhoel Spira, who was able to build a device capable of regulating the intensity of light in rooms. Imagine the impact of the invention over 60 years ago. Since then, of course, it has “rained a lot”, especially in the last epoch, in which there has been a veritable torrent of ingenious home automation devices.
The concept of automation and remote control has always been on the minds of engineers, as demonstrated by the creation in 1966 of what is considered by many to be the world’s first home automation product. It was ECHO (Electronic Computing Home Operator) IV, a kind of computer designed to control the temperature of the house, turn home-appliances on and off or make the shopping list, among other functions … of course, with many limitations, starting with connectivity or the large dimensions of the device.
Standardization of comfort
Nowadays, we are no longer surprised to be able to open the garage door with a remote control or a mobile phone, that the lights come on when the sensors identify us, or even turn on the heating from our office or raise and lower the blinds, using our smartphone.
We have gradually normalized all that use of technology in our homes, with a strong emphasis on energy efficiency and safety. In this way, devices capable of intelligently controlling lighting or temperature have become popular, taking advantage of even the most economical pricing hours; the irrigation of gardens, etc.
At the same time, intrusion controls have also been extended, with automatic closings of all accesses, technical alarms that can detect from gas leaks to power outages, video surveillance cameras that we can see on our mobile devices from anywhere, any moment…
The future is here!
The big question is where are we headed? What does the future hold for us? We already have devices that are giving us some clues, such as Alexa, Siri or Google Assistant type of digital assistants, capable of controlling household appliances at the behest of a voice command. But they are not the only ones; if the term of “smart home” was coined years ago, now we take another step forward and the Internet of Things (IoT) presents us with a very promising scenario.
In essence, it is about having multiple sensors, interconnected with each other, capable of processing large volumes of data and making decisions and taking actions practically in real time.
What does all this would mean? That with the arrival of Artificial Intelligence, capable of being embedded in the smallest microprocessors, we are not so far from the scene in which our home perceives that we have just got up and, knowing our morning routines (exercise, shower, etc. ), the coffee maker will have the coffee ready to our liking.
We talk about how the fridge is able to manage stocks, sending orders to buy from our usual basket to the supermarket so that they can bring it to our doorstep, or to identify products with an expiration date that is near or expired; or how it will be possible to decorate the walls of our rooms several times a day with organic light emitting diodes (OLED), even stamping video clips.
The key to everything will be, of course, that given the wide connectivity of so many devices, they bring with them security by design of each and every single one of its components, in order to be able to enjoy all the advantages of home automation, safe from malicious hackers.