August 30, 2013

5 Things Friday: 5 Futuristic Home Living Ideas

internet of things, futuristic, connected devices, Yi Wei Lim, yiweilim

Imagine turning off your alarm clock in the morning, which prompts your espresso maker to start making a merry cup of coffee. Or a more complex example: your high-tech fridge keeps an inventory of what's inside, and if you run out of tomatoes, it notifies your local grocer or an online delivery service to save you a trip to the grocer's. 

Welcome to the "Internet of Things". As more and more devices connect to the Internet, the idea of connecting such devices over a (secondary) network so that they interact with each other is becoming ever more a reality.

The espresso maker example above? Actually, that's what internet service IFTTT does. IFTTT, short for "If This, Then That" integrates web services with devices without writing any code. (For more on IFTTT, click here.)

Anyway, you get the gist... let's proceed to this week's countdown. I'm looking at online design magazine PSFK for inspiration today! In July, PSFK launched an interactive exhibition called "The Future of Home Living" in New York. Some of the exhibits provide more adaptability in how we imagine and arrange our things at home. However, we're counting down exhibits that utilise the "Internet of Things" concept... so here we go:

PSFK, PSFK Future of Home Living, futuristic home, internet of things, 5 Things Friday, Yi Wei Lim, yiweilim

5. Belkin WeMo Switch

"If you can plug it in, you can control it with WeMo." The WeMo adapter lets you plug your devices in, and control and even schedule them from your smartphone. Pretty neat!

Hmmm, might be good for Malaysians. In the light of truly horrifying crime stories featuring the most audacious of criminals, I wonder if the ability to schedule devices to turn on and off could add to a house's security features...

4. Milkmaid

Milkmaid is a milk jug with inbuilt sensors, which can perform the following:
  • Send SMSes when milk supply runs low
  • Monitor milk safety through pH and temperature sensors
  • Provide instant info about milk supply through a related iPhone app
So cute! It would be great if they created a range of food containers with the same capabilities as Milkmaid; it would be useful for people who hoard food in the fridge...

3. PLAiR

PLAir, HDMI, dongle

I like this one; PLAiR is a Wi-Fi-enabled portable device that plugs into a TV, and streams content from the Internet without requiring constant computer connectivity. It connects smartphones to any TV via an iPhone or Android app.

2. Nest Thermostat
This Wi-Fi-enabled device is an example of responsive design, in which it constantly "learns" situations and their related needs and accommodates them to provide tailored solutions. Whoa, that was a mouthful. The Nest thermostat is controllable by smartphone. It monitors direct sunlight and then adjusts your thermostat to save energy and money.

Nest plans to address the other end of the weather spectrum by rolling out a feature that switches on air-conditioning based on humidity levels.

1. Little Printer

Berg Design, Little Printer, PSFK, PSFK Future of Home Living, futuristic

This has to be my favourite! The adorable Little Printer is wirelessly connected to the Internet, and gathers content from a user's smartphone subscriptions to publications and apps until the user decides to print. And presto!, a personalized receipt-sized print out in black and white containing your selected news and social media updates among others.

"The Internet of Things" carries many implications for businesses too. It may improve logistics management and pricing strategies through the ability to track, monitor and analyse behavioural data; optimize and adjust resource usage patterns; and automate processes. If you're interested, McKinsey produced an interesting article in 2010 on how the "Internet of Things" may "create new business models, improve processes, and reduce costs and risks".

What ideas do you have for smarter home living? Let me know! Have a good weekend all!

For more on PSFK's "Future of Home Living" exhibits, go here.

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