Who would have thought the evolution of the smartphone would have heralded in an era of such rich, technologically imbued experiences? For better or for worse, the limitless potential exhibited by the smartphone has allowed us to connect with and automate a great many things – the goal of which is to enhance the quality of life. While using a smartphone to turn items in your home on and off may seem, to some, to be the epitome of laziness, automation of household objects offer some real benefits that go well beyond the realm of comfort and convenience.
Automated lighting has been around for a while but until recently, the technology has largely been sensor driven. Walk into a room, sensors detect movement and boom – lights come on. While useful to some degree, that type of technology is somewhat limited in terms of functionality.
The FLUXO lamp, currently in the fundraising stage on Kickstarter (and doing admirably I might add) allows you to turn the light on and off remotely via your smartphone – but it also does so much more. The app allows the user to focus light to a particular area (like the ceiling), which helps to reduce the harshness of direct lighting. It also has the ability to change colours, making it a handy little device for completing transforming the mood of the room. In terms of practicality, being able to remotely activate lighting in your home helps to give it the appearance that someone is home, even when there is not.
Automated Window Coverings
Whether you prefer to wake up to natural sunlight or you’re looking to reduce the cost of heating and cooling your home, motorized window blinds are a must have for any smart home. While this popular home accent can be opened/closed via your mobile device, they can also be set to open and close on a timer at various times of the day. This allows you to reduce or increase the amount of sunlight that enters your home depending on the time of year. For instance, during the winter, you might decide open the sun-facing blinds during the day to increase your home’s ambient temperature, which will in turn reduce your home’s energy consumption.
Smart Ceiling Fans Anyone?
You may be wondering where this handy dandy technology has been your entire life (especially if you live in a hot climate). The Haiku ceiling fan does more than automatically turn on and off when you enter or leave a room, it can also be set to turn on once the room temperature rises to a specified temperature or turn off should the temperature drop past your comfort zone. This technology is perfect for the light sleeper has difficulty sleeping in a room that is too hot/cold. What’s more, after a while the Haiku ceiling fan begins to learn your temperature preferences and adjust itself automatically to keep it within that range.
Alternative Window Treatments – Electric Glass
If money is no object and privacy a perpetual concern, electric glass may fit the bill. Having the ability to turn your windows from clear to opaque at the touch of a button is impressive enough, but like window coverings, they can also help to make your home much more eco-friendly (in the opaque state, electrochromic windows reflect nearly 100% of light). The technology electrochromic windows use is relatively simple; when a voltage is applied, ions within the glass travel from one electrode to another creating an opaque effect. When the voltage is reversed, the glass returns to its transparent state.
Intuitively, you might think that this process would consume too much energy to be a viable eco-friendly solution but the fact is that there is no power requirement to maintain the glass’ opaqueness. Energy is only required when transitioning between states.
These technologies are undeniably cool and undeniably making our lives much easier. It’s interesting to consider what the future might hold for smartphone enabled technology; will it get to the point where everything we interact with will perform automatically like the futuristic world portrayed in the iconic animated series, The Jetsons? It’s safe to say that minus the flying cars and pneumatic people movers, it is entirely possible.