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Life... Unplugged

IMAGINE HAVING A HOME WHERE YOU DON’T NEED TO USE YOUR KEYS TO GET THROUGH THE FRONT DOOR…

Then, once you’re inside, you can help yourself to a piping hot cup of coffee you programmed ahead of time on your wi-fi coffee machine.

Perhaps you fancy a cold beer from your wi-fi fridge instead. Then it’s time to adjust the lights and the air-conditioner with your smartphone, crash out on the couch before your smart TV and stream some shows.

It’s no longer a fantasy to imagine such a scenario because all of that technology already exists. Companies involved in white goods, home entertainment, technology and beyond are  cashing in on the trend. Indeed, the global home wireless audio market alone is estimated to be worth around $10 billion.

According to a 2015 report by Cisco and DHL, 50 billion devices will be connected to the internet via wi-fi by 2020. Technology research firm Telsyte reports that in five years, the number of devices connected to the internet in the average Australian home will be about 29.

So what does this mean for the home as we know it? Will it become a ‘robohome’? Dr Mark Hedley, the group leader for Data61 within the CSIRO, sees the benefits of having an increasingly wireless home. “The energy efficiency that comes from having a motion sensor in the room, having the lights turned off or even dimmed down if no-one is in the room, is great. And integrating the home energy system with an alarm-type system for increased security? I reckon that would be fantastic to have.

Yet he sees the problem with the uptake of such devices is not the technology itself, but reaching that critical point of popular market acceptance, as well as having a house wired to take advantage of the tech. “Once you have your light switch wired in the way your house was built, why would you bother getting it all ripped out for an extensive retrofit? You’d just stick with what you have.”

So maybe we haven’t reached the world of the Jetsons yet. But don’t be surprised if more and more households in the future have their new homes set up to take advantage of this bleeding-edge tech.

Read the full article, originally pulished in Electrical Gems Issue #131