Keeping Up with the Jetsons:
Best Smart Technology for the Home
Back in the 1960s, an animated space-aged family known as the Jetsons gave children and cartoon lover's a glimpse of what future technology could be. With flying cars, washing machines that washed, dried and folded clothes in a matter of seconds, and a robotic house maid named Rosie, the Jetsons lived in an impressive world where technology made enjoying the pleasures of life as simple as pressing a button. While this isn't exactly a reality in the present day, it also isn't just the stuff of science fiction and Saturday morning cartoons anymore. While undeniably some of the technology found on the Jetsons show may take some time to become a reality, the first steps towards smart living are making its way to homes across the globe. Courtesy of what is known as smart technology, homes are getting smarter and more convenient.
What is a Smart Home and Smart Technology
Technology that performs tasks that would normally require a human or human intelligence is known as "smart" technology. In recent times, the most visible form of this technology has been in popular smart devices, such as smart phones. When it comes to the smart home, this type of intelligent technology is used to make everyday tasks easier and more convenient to perform by using programmable devices that are connected and interact with one another, usually through a single system. Control and access to these devices may be through sensors, monitors or by voice commands that are given by the homeowner either in person or via a mobile device.
Smart appliances, such as refrigerators, have been on and off the market for several years. Also referred to as Internet refrigerators, these devices are made to alert homeowners regarding what is or is not in their refrigerators. Smart refrigerators can let owners keep track of what food is in their refrigerators and how long it's been in there. In addition, it can help create grocery lists for shopping. Because some of these refrigerators have the ability to go online, this information can be accessed via cell phone and other mobile devices or even the television in another room. In some cases smart refrigerators may have the ability to scan what is in the refrigerator, while in other cases; homeowners will need to manually input the information on a user interface. Another benefit of this type of refrigerator is that it can make recipe suggestions based off of what is currently in the refrigerator.
Also known as electric glass, smart glass has a number of applications in technologically advanced homes. This type of glass can reduce the amount of light that enters a room using a small electrical current. In terms of privacy, smart glass can transform itself from transparent to opaque or even black according to the type of smart glass that is in use. Climate control is another use for this type of glass. In the winter months, it helps to retain interior warmth, while in the summer it reduces the amount of heat that enters the home. There are three basic methods that manufacturers of smart glass use to make their product. These methods are electrochromic, suspended particle and polymer dispersed liquid crystal.
Smart meters and Home Energy Management Systems
Smart meters and home energy management systems are a way for homeowners to monitor their energy usage and potentially save money. A smart meter is a device that connects to a home's energy provider. This allows the homeowner to go online and view what his or her energy usage is at specific dates and times. A home energy management system allows the homeowner to set certain smart appliances to turn off during peak demand hours and turn on when the energy usage prices are the lowest or during times when excess usage may result in wide spread outages, such as during the summer. Homeowners may also have access to their appliances, air conditioners and other devices when away from home by using their mobile devices.
Smart Health Monitoring
With the use of monitors, badges and sensors, the elderly, people with disabilities and people who are suffering from illnesses may be monitored from within the comfort of their home. Monitors in each room and sensors on the body are able to keep track of the person's whereabouts, changes to patterns and even irregularities in breathing and heart rate. These types of devices may also detect if a person has fallen. In case of an emergency or an indication of concern, the system will send information through the home's network to authorized individuals such as family, health care providers or the police department.
- New York State Office for the Aging: Home Automation: A PDF about the evolution of smart homes. It reviews both the past and present focus on using smart technology, including for health care purposes.
- Smart House Feels Your Pain: Discusses smart home technology in relation to patient care, especially for the elderly and disabled.