If you’re a ’90s kid like I am, I know you’ve seen the classic Disney movie Smart House. If you haven’t, I recommend it. Back in ’99 watching this movie with my sister, I knew that it was a made-up concept and that a house could not have a personality and terrorize a family. I knew that houses could not speak to you, know where you were in the house, or trap you inside your home like a jail. Well, I thought I knew.
Turns out, houses do have the potential to be “smart” and cater to the people living inside of it. Turns out, this is actually happening now on a smaller scale.
Smart phones have voice recognition, listen to and carry out the commands we tell them (and Siri even calls me Princess). Phones aren’t homes nor are they as advanced as a smart home will eventually be, but it speaks to the concept of the internet of things. Techopedia defines the internet of things as “a computing concept that describes a future where everyday physical objects will be connected to the Internet and be able to identify themselves to other devices.” In other words, everything we interact with will be connected to other things. Common examples used to describe the possibilities of this internet of things include your fridge telling you when the food inside of it is going bad, your house knowing what music you like to hear when you get home from work and your house knowing exactly where you are and adjusting the lights accordingly.
I imagine this being similar to the world in the movie Minority Report, and I think the smart houses will eventually resemble the house Tom Cruise’s character lives in.
Smart televisions are accomplishing this, in a very basic way, by allowing your voice to control something in the device. As my classmate Hallie pointed out in her blog, there are some downsides to this technology for those concerned about privacy: turns out these smart televisions may be sending your voice recordings to third parties. This could be used to create personalized and targeted advertisements for the user, but that may come at a price of the third party eavesdropping and robbing us of our privacy.
Mashable reviewed Amazon Echo, a gadget that is part personal assistant and part speaker to use with Bluetooth. This gadget reminds me of the house’s personality in Smart House because it, like the house, can make the things you request actually happen. Yes, Siri has the ability to complete tasks for you as well, but this technology is not in a phone. It can exist on its own.images
I’m not a technology wiz nor am I an early adopter when it comes to new gadgets, but it’s important to acknowledge that more than our phones will be smart in the future. How we address privacy will need to change, as Hallie has already pointed out. How we interact with items around us will also change.
Making the items that surround us smart seems like a smart idea, but I have some reservations (that are mostly because of the movie Smart House). When your house is smart, what will happen if something malfunctions and the lights no longer automatically adjust themselves when you walk in the room? Will society ever get to a point where we can no longer function without something happening for us?
My Current Issues in Mass Communication class talked about internet addiction the other day: some of us think that we could not live without the internet because we are obsessed with it, and others of us think we are completely reliant and dependent on the internet so we could not function. Either way, the Internet has become a large part of society when it is only a little bit older than I am.
Take Apple Pay for example: if I have my phone contacts, my pictures and my debit and credit cards on my phone (and no longer carry an address book, camera or wallet), I will be helpless if I were to lose– or break– my phone.
Maybe my late majority tendencies are showing (I learned this from Crossing the Chasm), but I am hesitant to think that I will want to voice control items around me– or have them know my habits and make it happen without me asking– anytime soon. I don’t want a smart house. I’ll stick to a smart phone.
PS– Fingers crossed our houses don’t take a turn for the worse like the house did in Smart House.