(BY PATRICK LUCAS AUSTIN FOR TIME MAGAZINE)
It’s 6 A.M., and the alarm clock is buzzing earlier than usual. It’s not a malfunction: the smart clock scanned your schedule and adjusted because you’ve got that big presentation first thing in the morning. Your shower automatically turns on and warms to your preferred 103°F. The electric car is ready to go, charged by the solar panels or wind turbine on your roof. When you get home later, there’s an unexpected package waiting, delivered by drone. You open it to find cold medicine. Turns out, health sensors embedded in your bathroom detected signs of an impending illness and placed an order automatically. Good thing you already knocked that presentation out of the park.
That, at least, is the utopian version of the smart home that exists 10 years out. Swedish research firm Berg Insight says 63 million American homes will qualify as “smart” by 2022, with everything from Internet-connected light bulbs to cameras that let us spy on our pets from the office (there were nearly 130 million homes in the U.S. in total in 2018). But a decade from now, experts say, we’ll move from turning the lights on and off with our voices to total immersion in the Internet of Things (IoT). Thanks to advancements in artificial intelligence, the smartest homes will be able to truly learn about their owners or occupants, eventually anticipating their needs. Developments in robotics will give us machines that offer a helping hand with cleaning, cooking and more. New sensors will keep tabs on our well-being. Central to all of this will be the data that smart homes collect, analyze and act upon, helping to turn the houses of the future from a mere collection of gadgets and accessories into truly “smart” homes.