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The ingenuity of Smart Homes-A Thing of Past Already?

Smart homes conjure up several interesting myriad images-robot vacuums, a digital weather station on the back porch, smart lighting and automated speakers, a video doorbell, a smart thermostat, and other several such devices that are connected to the internet. The concept of smart homes has always been a fascinating one-concept solely revolving around the premise of a residence solely depending and functioning on internet-connected devices to enable the remote monitoring and management of appliances and systems, such as lighting and heating. Renowned brands such as Ring, Nest, or Phillips Hue have played a monumental hand in bring this fascinating concept into our lives.  

The uniqueness of a Smart home technology, popularly referred to as domotics (derived from the Latin "domus" meaning home), resides in facilitating security, comfort, convenience and energy efficiency by allowing house residents to control their diverse smart devices, often by a smart home app on their smartphone or other networked device. A part of the web of things (IoT), good home systems and devices usually operate along, sharing shopper usage information among themselves and automating actions supported the homeowners' preferences. However with the passage of time, a problem has loomed before the smart house residents. The devices placed in the house do not really comprehend one another and are almost clueless regarding their respective functionality.

While a contemporary sensible home involves daisy-chaining Bluetooth devices in addition to complicated IFTTT recipes, the onus is on us to now re-examine the overall idea of what we want in our homes in 2020. The new age needs a  refurbished concept of smart home. The problem plaguing the new age is that none of the smart home devices really understand each other or fully comprehend of what the other one is doing. Celluloid wonder ‘Wallace & Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit’, fascinated all and sundry with an innovative set of Rube Goldberg machines that woke up Wallace and Gromit up on detecting the presence of a pest. The machine also dressed them, prepared their coffee and breakfast, and even warned the duo of the day's emergency customers by pointing out the portraits on the wall.

The whole idea might seem utopian but what if it held promise? 1997's Flubber, another celluloid piece of art, displayed a breakfast machine that precision-cut eggs open with a laser, fried them, and even served fresh-pressed coffee at the table. One might muster the courage to expect from the big brand wagons to dish out something remotely close to this. The concept might be soon facing extinction since companies are now failing to come up with any visionary idea.

However project CHIP is an overwhelming initiative into this exercise. An acronym for Project Connected Home over IP, the CHIP initiative aims to design an open-source standard that ensures the smooth and seamless coordination between any smart home devices, irrespective of which company is manufacturing the device. Though CHIP spells promise and has managed to create a hype ever since its formation, the concept is still novel and millions of smart home customers are wary of the practical application of CHIP wherein by 202 they can see their devices working in sync with other.

CHIP partners with e-commerce giants such as Amazon, Google, and Apple who all have pledged to lend their unflinching support to their products in their existing forms, more or less, while working towards conceiving future products with CHIP standards. CHIPs definitely is the way forward if a new concept of smart homes is to be implemented. The new decade should mean something more exciting for smart home technology but only and if only the big giants are willing to not cast their mammoth ego and not try and control the market for societal good at large.

Google has tirelessly worked towards giving Nest products a facelift when it rolled out everything in favour of Google Assistant. The reasoning was straightforward- All Nest accounts were transcending into security liability. It was Google’s utmost drive to ensure that Nest owners move into a more secure ecosystem, enabling Google to focus predevelopment on Assistant rather than continued Nest investment.

However this idea was immediately a washout as homeowners realised that the significant amount of money that they had invested in their devices would be a wastage since Google wanted to put another system in place of the existing one. This move also saw several home owners pulling the stop on Nest products and moving onto other accounts that did not require centralized accounts. The idea behind this?  Nobody clearly wanted to be confined to an ecosystem unless it smoothly functions.

However in hindsight the issue with the concept is a pretty overwhelming one. The concept involves working out the politics of working with other vendors without causing ripples while coming up with a system that is not difficult to configure and understand. Apple's latest formulated patent functions to do exactly that. The patent rolled out articulates the concept of implementing smart devices that can communicate with one another in a manner in which they don't just associate to execute related commands. On the contrary they actually know where each device is related to the other. These devices function to devise a simple floorplan of your home and plan out routines based on everyday life.

Obviously this challenges simple notions such as turning off the stove on the beep of the kitchen timer, creating a truly synchronised relationship between devices in a never seen before format. These concepts would thereby help the ‘Gremlins’ in the home from wreaking more havoc in our lives than they aim to. Smart home gadgets claim to conserve energy by analyzing patterns, but this goes beyond simple routine recognition or the indispensable concept of remote control.

A smart home should ideally not just be about racking up more and more Internet-connected devices to your home. Ideally it should be about having devices that can are customised to understand your needs and adapt to create a more comfortable life. Let’s imagine a toilet that can automatically clean its handle and seats, or smart door handles that glow with ultraviolet light after being touched to prevent germs from spreading? These are novel ideas and would take several years, maybe decades to actually roll out but working out solutions around these issues is the true essence of being ‘smart’. For smart homes to be a reality, a certain level of cooperation between companies that needs to exist. IFTTT is the closest thread to making smart devices work in tandem, but it's not the ideal solution that will ultimately help smart devices actually understand one another. Here is hoping that CHIP proves to be the ultimate game changer in 2020, making smart homes indeed smart.

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