For the past few decades "smart homes" have largely lived on the wrong side of possible. Shows like the Jetsons gave us dreams of robot servants, jetpacks and interconnected appliances, but our appliances never really got smarter. Until now.
Our devices are becoming more and more connected, gaining new capabilities to act, react, interact and coordinate with each other and the outside world. And this is only going to become more powerful. We are only at the beginning of this revolution. The homes of the future are going to allow for ever more frictionless living, as they seamlessly complement and augment our actions.
You can get a sense of what's to come by looking at the smart devices already on the market. Luxaflex Window Fashions, for example, are already capable of effortlessly reacting to the world around them. Using a "trigger" like the time of day, weather or even your location, the new PowerView motorisation for the Luxaflex Softshades collection can shift your shades to suit your preference.
And this is just one part of your home — imagine the same frictionless existence extended to your lights, alarms, locks, coffee machines and television. A smart home, with devices that can communicate and react — doors that unlock just as you arrive home, coffee that's ready just as you wake up, lights that activate before you need them. Future smart devices will work together to learn what you need and when you need them.
It's this kind of behaviour, according to Kane Fuessel, Senior Motorisation and Product Development Manager at Hunter Douglas, that is the hallmark of a smart home.
"A smart home will have the ability to have all of the connected devices in the home doing things that you would normally have them do, but not have to actually request them do it," says Fuessel.
"They are in tune with your natural movements within the home, your habits, things like that, and certain functions are performed for you."
Even better, this kind of automation will be increasingly accessible to everyone — not just the first adopters who can cobble together complex systems. Already, Luxaflex has made it easy to automate your blinds using its PowerView app — you can create different combinations of blinds and positions called "scenes", and easily automate and control them from anywhere with your smartphone. You could create a scene to catch the morning sun, or close it all so you can watch a movie — the possibilities are endless.
You can also already go the next step and easily connect your blinds to If This Then That for some impressive automation — you can get your blinds to automatically react to your voice, location, schedule, the weather and much more. You can have your them automatically shift to catch the sun, let in more sun on a cold day and less on a warm one. There's no coding involved, and super simple interfaces.
"Grandma can do this stuff. It's not hard," says Fuessel.
What’s holding this dream back, says Fuessel, is that the current crop of smart devices can’t effectively talk to each other. There’s no overriding platform or protocol.
Until a standard for home automation emerges, Luxaflex is designing products to be platform agnostic — to work with everyone and everything. Its PowerView enabled blinds allow you to create "scenes" — different combinations of your blinds for different times of day, which can be controlled with a remote, with an app, or through already-common automation services.
"We are supporting all the different manufacturers out there. We are also supporting different levels of automation, like If This Then That," says Fuessel.
The possibilities for smart home are endless. And we have gotten just a taste of the convenience that will be common in the smart homes of the future.