The home of the future will be controlled by your smartphone?

A report from CES 2013 suggests the smartphone could unlock the potential of the wired home of the future:

There will be some 24 billion connected devices by 2020. That figure certainly doesn’t seem beyond reach given the number of smartphones out there (300 million shipped in the first half of 2012, according to Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs) and the number of connected devices and appliances seen at CES 2013. The theme of LG’s entire booth, for example, was “Touch the Smart Life.” The Korean company had 20,000 square feet of space dedicated to showing people how appliances that can communicate with the web, and one another, will transform their lives for the better. Dozens, if not hundreds, of other booths stretched across the North and South halls of CES showed how this “world of tomorrow” technology is here now, in everything from web-connected TVs to vacuum cleaners…

Your smartphone or tablet is perhaps the best, most capable and feature-filled TV remote control on the market, if you don’t mind that it doesn’t have easily tappable gummy buttons…

For home appliances, a mix of apps and proximity-based technologies like NFC will let you start your washing machine remotely, give you vital stats about what’s going bad inside your fridge and even check on that roast in the oven…

And whether you’re focused on energy efficiency or just want to set the right mood, your smartphone can take the place of light switches and thermostat buttons — and then some.

In my mind, this seems like a shortcut to the wired home of the future promised decades ago. The best way to do this would seem to be to have everything hardwired: lights, security, sound, etc. Of course, this is best done at the construction of the home as it is cost prohibitive later. This goes a different route: every device has to be wired and then controlled by a central hub. Alas, no indication here about the cost for these upgraded home items or what happens if you lose your smartphone.

I see the benefits of some of these devices. On the other hand, some seem quite frivolous. A vacuum cleaner controllable from your phone? Do consumers need a refrigerator that tells them when food is bad as opposed to being able to look through the refrigerator? In the long run, would these devices save time on housework or give a householder more to keep track of? This was the promise decades ago with new appliances but time spent on housework has not been reduced dramatically.


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