How to integrate artificial intelligence in your home
New technologies based on artificial intelligence can make our homes more comfortable and secure. There are already refrigerators capable of doing the grocery shopping and thermostats which automatically regulate the temperature.
Iron Man and the man underneath, Tony Stark, rely on the help of a state-of-the-art ally called Jarvis, an artificial intelligence (AI) software capable of controlling just about anything. Stark uses voice commands to control the virtual assistant, who then makes calculations, shines his armor and even performs household chores.
Inspired by Marvel´s character, Mark Zuckerberg, the creator of Facebook, decided to convert this idea into a reality. Last year, the founder of the world´s leading social media platform announced he was developing an AI-based virtual assistant to help him around the house and manage myriad aspects like lighting and climate control. A smart home, the shining Zuckerberg house.
The Iron Man movie reflects a world controlled by artificial intelligence and, though it may seem like science fiction, that is exactly where we are headed. The thriving Internet of Things (IoT) sector continues to grow and has already reached our homes in the form of devices and objects connected to the internet, and to each other. This allows them not only to work automatically, but also to transmit information. This happens in factories, but also in private homes where a fridge might "speak" to the pantry, and the bed to the lights.
These smart appliances act as sensors, gather data, and offer personalized services based on the leveraging of big data. Is someone sleeping? The lights go off. No food in the fridge? An order is placed with the supermarket. The result is convenience, and efficiency in areas like energy savings, which helps households to reduce regular expenditures.
Security, savings and comfort are a few of the top benefits of this kind of devices, which little by little are penetrating homes in many countries. According to the Fjord Trends 2017 report, produced by the consulting firm Accenture, "these connected homes will grow quickly; in the United States, for example, 22% of all homes include at least one connected device."
That´s the technology, but, how can we use it at home? The most popular devices are voice controlled, like the smart speakers offered by Amazon, Google and Apple. Like Zuckerberg, those with programming skills can create a homemade version of these devices. Even if that is not the case (and money permitting), aspiring adepts can try one of the following offers:
Amazon Echo Show. Powered by Alexa, an AI-based virtual assistant with over 15,000 skills. This new line has been adapted to meet household needs and displays internet content on screen. It also includes a security camera and can perform maintenance activities, like controlling lighting and temperature.
Google Home. Acts as a home multimedia center by allowing users to connect their smartphones to the device and use it as they would use a search engine. For example, users can ask for directions and listen to music via Spotify. The "brains" of the device is Google Assistant, whose algorithms leverage everything the search engine knows about its users.
Homepod. First Apple integrated Siri in its iPhones and how Apple has expanded its virtual assistant offering with this device, which proposes a different way of listening to music at home. Apple has also made the device compatible with the rest of the brand´s HomeKit smart accessories line (movement sensors, security cameras, wireless controls, etc.).
"Artificial intelligence is also changing our daily habits"
These are some of the devices which have influenced some of our routines, like doing the grocery shopping, turning on the heat or the lights.
Refrigerators. Can´t remember the expiry date of the food in your fridge, or need to buy groceries? Smart refrigerators facilitate household chores like these, for example, through security cameras located in their interior to identify products and send alerts according to user needs. Some models can even order supplies directly. Companies like Samsung, LG and Siemens already offer their own smart refrigerator models.
Mirrors. This basic element of any household now offers endless services. For example, the Naked 3D Fitness Tracker mirror includes an operating system which scans users bodies to analyze aspects like skin hydration or body physiognomy. However, users can do more with these mirrors than just monitor their appearance, because now some also serve as tactile screens which display news articles and play music, like Apple Mirror and Allview.
Sockets. Are you always forgetting to turn your appliances off? With smart sockets, you can program appliances to activate, or deactivate, automatically. Some of the leading products in this category are offered by brands like TP-Link, Panasonic and DiO. To choose the best socket one should look for wi-fi and remote control capabilities, as well as being programmable and including a USB port, thereby allowing the socket to be connected to any other device.
Lighting and climate control. It is now possible to regulate the lighting without leaving the comfort of the sofa. Practically every brand now offers LED-based, smart lighting systems, which typically include light and movement sensors to modify the color and intensity of the light emitted. In terms of climate control, Nest is perhaps the most popular technology on the market today. This company, which was acquired by Google in 2014, has developed a smart thermostat which allows users to control the temperature to their liking.
Dorrbells and locks. Do you think keys should cease to exist? August Home has launched a smart doorbell and two smart locks which allow users to control, and block, access to their homes. These devices are compatible with other platforms like Amazon´s Alexa or Apple´s HomeKit.
Por Alba Casilda