Posted by Ashleigh Allsopp 30 May 2014
Imagining an Apple Smart Home
This week, there have been lots of rumours about Apple. Oh wait, that's every week. But this week, there have been lots of rumours about Apple's plans to launch a new 'Smart Home' platform. Now there's something we've not heard much about before.
At first, I brushed off the idea as being kind of boring, but then I got thinking about the possibilities of an Apple 'Smart Home' and decided it could be incredibly cool. Think about all those futuristic movies you've seen, where humans don't really have to think about anything other than breathing because the technology around them does everything else for them, and can pretty much read their minds.
So last night, when I arrived on my street, I (perhaps sadly) decided to imagine what it would be like if my house was a 'Smart Home'. It would probably all be controlled by the iPhone I'm carrying in my pocket, or perhaps even that rumoured iWatch I'd have wrapped around my wrist all the time. I'm certainly not saying that Apple's platform is going to make all of this possible right away, but it could be the spark that propels us towards that future that the movies have envisioned.
If my house were a 'Smart Home,' I'd pull into my driveway and straight into the garage, which would have automatically opened on my approach. I'd get out of the car, which would automatically lock as I walk away, and go towards my front door as the garage closes again.
The door would be open because it would know I've arrived, so I'd walk straight in without needing to fumble around in my bag for my keys. My floor would be clean because my robotic vacuum cleaner will have done its job while I was out at work.
Above: This is the iRobot - a robotic vacuum cleaner - in action.
If it's chilly, the heating would be on already and my house would be the perfect temperature thanks to my smart thermostat. The lights would come on as I enter the house, and my TV would turn on to the channel that's about to show my favourite programme.
Above: The iKettle
My cat wouldn't need feeding because the food would have automatically dropped into the bowl, and the kettle would have just boiled ready for my cuppa. I wouldn't have to worry about an empty fridge because it would know when I'm about to run out of milk and put in an order for more. And perhaps I'd even have a smart biscuit tin because I can't function properly without my daily digestive when I get home.
I'm going to guess I'd have to cook my own dinner, though perhaps once a fortnight I'd set up an automatic takeaway order that would arrive 10 minutes after I do. But just like my fridge, my cupboards and freezer would be constantly restocked thanks to their ability to detect when I've used all the pasta, rice or ice cream, for example. They may even be able to present me with some recipes that'll help me use up the ingredients that'll go off soon.
As the sun goes down, my lights would get brighter and my blinds and curtains would close. My kettle would boil again ready for a hot chocolate, which I'd pour and leave on my bedside table. Even the table would be smart, keeping my hot chocolate warm by radiating heat while I'm getting ready for bed.
My bathroom would know that it's me and not my boyfriend so it'd leave the toilet seat down (finally) when I enter. The door would lock automatically behind me and unlock again when it senses my approach. We'd never run out of toothpaste because the bathroom cabinet would be smart, too, so that means medicine, shampoo, soap and more would be automatically ordered when we're about to run out.
In the morning, I'd wake up to another boiled kettle, instead of this hungry cat (I'm afraid I don't think this works with children…). My wardrobes would know today's weather forecast and the clothes that are ready to wear so would present me with a few outfit options to choose from. I'm still working on how I'd get out of having to dry my hair.
I'd leave the house, which would automatically lock behind me, and the security alarm would be activated. My garage would be open and I'd hop in the unlocked car, and pull out of the driveway, watching as my garage door closes behind me. My car would probably even be able to drive itself, too, so I could sit back and read a book on the journey.
Of course, there's one teeny-weeny problem. Technology has a habit of going wrong. What if, for some reason, my garage door didn't shut itself allowing someone to come and steal my car without me realising. What if the front door wouldn't unlock automatically and I've been so used to it working that I no longer carry a key.
What if the lights won't come on but there's no switch because they're supposed to 'just work'. The curtains might not connect to my iPhone or iWatch (they can run out of battery, you know) and therefore get stuck open. The fridge might think I've used all the cheese when actually I just got it out and then put it back in (this happened to me with extremely expensive wine in a hotel mini-fridge once).
Worse still, most technology can get hacked into. So what if someone was able to hack into my security system and unlock all of my doors. Or hack into my self-driving car and drive itself straight into the hands of a criminal.
So while imagining an Apple Smart Home was really rather fun, the threat of having my home hacked into completely overrides things. I'm beginning to think I'd rather feed my own cat and order my own shopping and vacuum my own floor than let technology take control of my home, and I'm certain that I'm not the only one. However, if someone can figure out an automatic hair drying system (that doesn't involve simply waiting for the water to evaporate two hours later) I'd pay good money for it.