The next 10 years of smart home technology will focus on developments that will apply to more than just living spaces.
Technology is not always smart. Technology that consumers can understand, afford, and use properly is smart. Technology that saves power and is good for the environment is also smart. Too often, the technology that we encounter is complex, expensive, wastes resources, and causes pollution. The past 10 years have seen a plethora of new technologies emerge into our society that enabled people to share data quickly over a variety of platforms. The next 10 years will see other new technologies emerge that will enable a wide range of devices to communicate and share data with both people and other devices.
From Many to All-in-One?
How many computers do you have? Your list might include a cell phone (or smartphone), tablet, laptop, desktop computer, printer, camera, TV, DVR, home security system, HVAC (thermostat), clocks, washer, dryer, refrigerator, oven, dishwasher, automobile, GPS, and garage-door opener. Many of these computers do not communicate with other devices; they do not even know that the other devices exist. Most of these devices speak different languages and some require special training to program or customize. The next 10 years will see a technical convergence towards a single microcomputer that is able to control a variety of devices in order to optimize or customize home/office efficiency and security.
Log In No More
How often do you log in each day? Do you ever forget your user name or password? Do you have to pay for Internet access? In the next 10 years, everyone will have access to the Internet 24/7 in most parts of the world for free. Businesses and governments will provide free Internet connection to encourage people to be connected. Internet connections will be secure and login will be a simple voice command, eye scan, or fingerprint. Computer theft will become a thing of the past because your computer cannot be used by anyone else and most of the valuable information used by your computer will be stored in the cloud.
More Clean Energy
Advances in technology will require an increase in available clean energy. Smaller and more powerful rechargeable batteries will also be needed. Wireless power transmission will enable batteries to be recharged without plugging devices into a charger. Devices will also run on wireless power so they can operate without batteries or power cords. Rechargeable batteries used in a variety of devices, such as electric cars or trucks, will be able to store excessive power from the grid and release the power during times of high demand. The new Smart Grid will be able to control many devices to optimize the production and distribution of power over a wide geographical area.
The Next 10 Years in Smart Homes
Will any of these ideas become reality? We will have to wait and see. The challenge is not more technology. The challenge is discovering smart technology. Society needs a variety of individuals from many backgrounds working together to solve complex problems that address social, environmental, political, cultural, financial, and technical issues. Society needs teamwork, creativity, innovation, and determination to build a brighter future — a future that includes smart technology.
Check out our archives for a more in-depth look at the Duke Smart Home and what it could mean for connector design in the future.
By Jim Gaston, Duke Smart Home Director, Duke University
Jim Gaston is an adjunct assistant professor at Duke University and the Duke Smart Home program director. He manages student project teams, directs project research, and is responsible for curriculum integration. Jim is the main point of contact for the Duke Smart Home Program and Home Depot Smart Home. The Home Depot Smart Home is the first LEED Platinum building on the Duke campus and is a member of the International Green Industry Hall of Fame. Contact Jim with questions about smart technology or the Duke Smart Home.