18 July 2013

i3 - It Is Innovation

More than 50 years ago, The Jetsons showed us what the technological future might hold in 2062—talking watches, video calls, flying cars and robot maids. Fast forward to today and Apple’s Siri looks very much like George Jetson’s talking watch, while Skype’s video conferencing resembles the Jetsons’ video calls.
 
Although, we haven’t reached flying cars or robot maid status yet, there is still optimism on the horizon. Cisco predicts that there will be 25 billion connected devices worldwide in 2015, and 50 billion by 2020, each generating data and reporting information.
 
A survey by the Pew Internet and American Life Project found that 51 percent of respondents agreed with the statement that by 2020, “The connected household will become a model of efficiency, as people are able to manage consumption of resources (electricity, water, food and even bandwidth) in ways that place less of a burden on the environment while saving households money.”
 
An area where we are seeing Jetsons-inspired devices on the rise is in smart home technology. Manufacturers, retailers, and even media companies, are starting to pay closer attention to building smarter homes that reinforce the concept of connected living, where home appliances and devices allow homeowners to monitor energy use and control home systems such as security, interior climate, lighting and other electronics via a tablet or smartphone.
 
The best example of this is the HGTV Smart Home, a charming, shingle-style cottage home nestled in the beach community of Paradise Key South Beach in Jacksonville Beach, Fla. This home’s tech savviness is due in large part to CEA’s TechHome Rating System, which was used to lay out the home’s technological infrastructure. This home has all of the bells and whistles that would make Jane Jetson swoon.
 

The features and functionality of this home are like nothing we’ve ever offered in HGTV home giveaways, and set the standard for creative spaces and ways that consumers can use emerging technology to improve their homes,” said Jack Thomasson, HGTV’s house planner.
 
Here are some of the features of the HGTV Smart Home:
Outside: Pool automation controls lighting, temperature and fountains from a tablet. Exterior awnings can be opened or closed remotely and include sensors that close the awning automatically to protect against rain and wind.
Garage: Door notification sends an alert to a smartphone when a door is left open, allowing homeowners to remotely control door locks.
Kitchen: The cooktop induction system heats only cookware and the faucet has on and off water sensors.
Bathroom: Toilets include built-in seat warmers, a sensor-controlled seat that opens and closes, and a hands-free flush mechanism. The shower can be turned on remotely and programmed to pre-set temperatures for each family member.
Living Room: Shades can be raised or lowered remotely from a tablet.
So, what does the future of smart living hold CEA’s 11th Annual State of the Builder Technology Market Study shows technology installations in new homes reached or exceeded 2008 levels, suggesting that built-in home technologies are becoming a sought-after market.
 
In the last two years, the most common technology installed in homes was structured wiring, followed by monitored security and home theaters. Built-in home theaters are projected to rise across the U.S. as more homes gain access to the Internet. Today, nine in 10 homes (92 percent) in the U.S. are online, up from 37 percent in 2006. The CEA study notes that nearly one in four newly built homes in 2012 has a dedicated home theater room, up from one in 10 in 2010.
 

The rapid growth of home theaters with Internet access is a good indicator that homes are getting smarter. Nothing illustrates this better than some of the exhibits shown at the 2013 International CES®. LG Electronics and Whirlpool displayed their latest smart home appliances, reinforcing the idea that connected homes are the wave of the future.
 
LG’s appliances allow homeowners to start their laundry while they are at work. Whirlpool encourages consumers to have fun in the kitchen by playing music directly from the refrigerator. And Green Wave Reality, winner of the CES Best of Innovations in the integrated home systems category, lets consumers wirelessly control light bulbs.
 
But companies aren’t the only groups focusing on home tech innovation. Retailers are also adopting connected homes into their business strategies. Look no further than Lowe’s, which last year hired a smart home vice president to develop a cloud-based home solution to allow homeowners to monitor and control their homes from a smartphone.
 
It is obvious we are trending toward The Jetsons image—where every appliance, light bulb, speaker and home monitoring system can be controlled wirelessly. As consumer awareness about smart living benefits grows and the cost falls, there will be no limits to what the home of the future can do. Who knows, we might surpass The Jetsons and the CE industry might revolutionize the concept of smart living altogether.
 
The Smart Home of the Future
 
Rising energy costs have encouraged more homeowners to look at energy saving smart devices to lower their monthly expenses. Roughly 70 million U.S. homes today have a home network, laying the groundwork for more home automation and connectivity to systems like the smart grid.
 
The Continental Automated Buildings Association (CABA) and CEA partnered to produce industry research that found consumers favor simple interfaces and basic options to control and remotely monitor their homes. Various choices exist to automate homes, from installed systems to plug-and-play technologies that use devices like smartphones.
 
Smart meters are a first step toward a smart grid, but consumers don’t necessarily understand how to use energy consumption data, and few utilities have procedures in place like time-of-use billing. However, this is a chance for the CE industry to transform the connected home into a smart home by developing more energy-intelligent appliances, devices and services.
 
Research shows energy efficiency will be the main driver for homeowners to adopt smart technologies. Opportunities exist for the CE industry to work with utilities and the federal government to develop solutions and educate consumers about the connected home’s integration with the smart grid, including information sharing, data security and consumer privacy. The industry also can educate consumers on the benefits of adopting smart appliances and devices.
 
New apps, technology platforms and services will transform today’s connected home into The Jetsons’ smart home of the future.
- See more at: http://www.ce.org/i3/Features/2013/July-August/The-Jetsons-Home-is-Almost-Here.aspx#sthash.gABh7oV7.dpuf

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