|Posted on June 18, 2013 at 12:35 AM|
Lying in the vast, middle Promised Land between connected things that are obviously useful and things that are uselessly awful, are connected appliances. Yes. Appliances. That connect. To the Internet.
“Why?!” you say. “How?!” you ponder. Why and how, indeed...
Several years ago I visited Microsoft’s campus in Redmond, Washington and toured their “Home of the Future.” (You’ll be happy to know that in the future, we drink practically around the clock and have all become oddly obsessed with Asian themed décor.) The HotF’s mandate is to look five to ten years into the future and predict the technology that will be affordable commonplace in the daily lives of normal people. (“Normal” being Microsoft speak for, “Those of you that didn’t cash in on Microsoft, Google, or Apple stock options and now live on piles of money like a pasha." )
During my visit – ironically about five years ago, meaning we’ve either not reached the future yet or my life is even pathetically less normal that I had hoped – Microsoft demonstrated some incredibly cool, “Holy crap!” kinds of things, some of which would actually be useful. And presumably not require a ctrl-alt-del button press!
For example, the HofF will know from your calendar and GPS and/or Bluetooth positioning of your phone when you would be coming home – and where you are in the home – and could prepare the home’s lighting, temperature and entertainment systems accordingly. Perhaps it will be sentient enough to read your Facebook timeline and a status update of, “Well, got fired today. So…that,” could prompt the house to order in some booze. But the cheap stuff. Cause, you know, fired.
Microsoft envisions a broad use of radio frequency identification (RFID) tags, predicting these little-bitty tags will become so inexpensive that they will ultimately be ubiquitous and used to tag everything. I mean, if you choose to believe that lunatic spoutings of a company named Microsoft. Like, what makes them think they can predict technology?! These tags coupled with “smart appliances” would result in a home that was hyper aware of your every move and everything in it. Imagine a mostly-less-evil HAL that constantly watched over you, trying to predict what you need and how you feel. Possibly like a clingy girlfriend but without any of the girlfriend stuff.
A sentient refrigerator would automatically inventory items as you placed them in, knowing not only what the item was but everything about it, such as when it expires or what it could be used for. Start pulling out eggs and flour and chocolate chips and the home would prompt you with a chocolate chip cookie recipe and tell the oven to pre-heat itself. (That’s right, oven. You listen up when ‘fridge is talkin’!) And, since we’re in the future, the recipe would be projected onto the counter from an overhead projector for you to read natch. You’d never misplace anything again, because the RFID would tell the home exactly where things like that mystery missing sock is. Of course, it probably wouldn’t tell you, cause where’s the fun in that?
But, that’s still in…the future. What about the today and the now?