The race to create smart homes is on – Computerworld

The Jetsons TV series captured the popular imagination in the 1960s with its portrayal of the future. The Jetsons’ home featured videophones, a robot housekeeper and a kitchen filled with push-button conveniences. After decades of slow progress, our homes are poised to become much more automated. We are even ahead of The Jetsons in a few areas.

Most homes in the U.S. already possess powerful building blocks: digital TVs, computers with Internet access, microprocessor-controlled appliances. A growing percentage of households have taken their first steps toward the future with Internet TV, wireless security systems and a growing roster of voice- and smartphone- controlled devices.

Two things are needed to make homes truly “smart.” First are sensors, actuators and appliances that obey commands and provide status information. There are already hundreds if not thousands of smart home products on the market. These have evolved in recent years beyond simple door sensors and light switches to smart thermostats such as Nest and voice command devices such as the Amazon Echo.

Second are protocols and tools that enable all of these devices, regardless of vendor, to communicate with each other. However, this is a major undertaking and it won’t happen overnight. In the meantime, smartphone apps, communication hubs and cloud-based services are enabling practical solutions that can be implemented right now.


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