I first “Smartened” up my home after I received both the Google Home Mini and Chromecast dongle as gifts this past Christmas. Now, after spending two months using the devices daily it has become crystal clear of where their true benefit lies. And it’s not simply in the novelty of being able to use your voice to control your home.
Anyone who picks up their kids from school knows exactly what happens as soon as you walk in the front door. They transform into Gremlins who act as if they’ve been locked in a metal cage for two weeks. They rip off their snowsuits in nano-seconds, kick their snow covered boots into the living room, race into the kitchen, and climb up on the counter top in search of something, ANYTHING, to eat.
And in the amount of time it takes for this to happen I haven’t even had a chance to put down their backpacks and take off my hat! I am definitely in no position to strut through the house to make sure they don’t fall off the counter and kill themselves, or worse drop a jug of juice on the floor… I kid!
And now, even with only a partially equipped smart-home, as I walk through the door I can simply say “Ok Google, play Teen Titans on Netflix” and in a matter of moments the next episode is playing and is providing enough of a distraction to keep the minions out of trouble while I situate myself in the kitchen.
Lets face it we are all getting busier with longer workdays, longer commutes, after-school activities, getting to the gym, and doing household chores. We could use any extra time we can find.
And I am a huge believer that optimizing smart home technology is far and away the premiere way to achieve this.
For example, if I am in my car driving home from work with a carload full of stir crazy children I could simply say to my Pixel phone “OK Google, almost home” and it would respond by initiating an incredibly helpful pre-programmed sequence of events. It would go something like this:
- Open wifi garage door
- Unlock smart padlock
- Turn smartoven to 425
- Turn on the Phillips Hue lights over the front entrance, kitchen and living room
- Turn the TV on and play Teen Titans Go on Netflix
- Change heat on Nest Thermostat to 21 degrees
This strategy of maximizing all of the possible things that can be done simultaneously is that essential mindset we need to cultivate. You really want to focus on saving your hands for those tasks that absolutely must be done manually.
Where in your life do you feel the greatest need for the ability to perform a bunch of different tasks all at the same time?
As a starting point let’s envision the smart kitchen of the future and highlight a number of manual tasks that can, and must, be eliminated:
- Opening and closing the correct section of the refrigerator (the future refrigerator will have several smaller access doors, because opening the whole thing is incredibly wasteful as all of the cold air immediately falls to the floor)
- Turning on the faucet and filling the sink with soapy water at an exact temperature.
- Searching and selecting the recipe you are using to make dinner.
- Turning on the oven and setting the temperature.
- Turning on and/or adjusting the lighting.
Another huge consideration is the current widely accepted practice of looking at the screen of a small phone, or even a tablet, for your visual information. This requires stopping whatever else you are doing and focusing your eyes on the small print on a tiny screen. This is a huge inconvenience and a major time waster.
A large 4K screen hanging on the kitchen wall with WiFi and one USB port for a dongle is all you really need. And I see this as a vital component of any smart home. It’s large enough that you can read the info on it from pretty much anywhere in the room, and if you don’t want to reference the screen you could always ask your smart speaker to read it aloud. This TV is also connected to your security cameras over the front entrance, and automatically switches to the live feed whenever your smart doorbell rings.
And you definitely want the screen to be 4K so that when it is not in use it can easily pass as a unique piece of art, a piece of art that can be altered daily. The shape of these future TV’s will also be optional (I don’t know why no one has done this yet). Because you want the decorative nature of the device to fit your space.
Now, imagine a scenario where you are having 5 or 6 of you closest friends over for dinner on a Saturday night and you are all hanging around the kitchen island catching up over a few well earned drinks after a tough week at work. As you begin washing up some dishes before supper you mention that you are thinking about moving for a new job opportunity just outside of Toronto.
You could then ask your smart speaker to show a selection of homes in Oshawa for under $750,000 and display them on your kitchen TV. As you and your friends view each of the options you may even find a couple that everyone agrees would be a fantastic buy. Then you can ask your Smart Speaker to book a viewing with the agent for next Saturday afternoon. Next your friends all decide to make this a getaway weekend and you are booking hotels and train tickets, all through your smart speaker and TV.
If your initial reaction to our increasingly busy lifestyle is to unplug, just say no, and claw back your time the old fashion way, my hat goes off to you. However, sometimes the momentum of living in the modern world is something we just can’t escape no matter how hard we try. This is where this evolving world of smart technology can help us get our time back, so we can spend it doing the things we enjoy with the people we love.
Header: Zhu Difeng/Shutterstock.com
Kids watching TV: Stockfour/Shutterstock.com
Juggling tasks: Gino Santa Maria/Shutterstock.com
Friends talking: Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock.com