smart homes

Image from the Warner Bros. Film Her 

This much we know—one day soon, we will wake up to conversations like this:

"Start the coffee and open the curtains, please...Should I wear a coat today? Record tonight's game, I'll be home a little late."

Only the person on the other end of the conversation won't be a person at all. It'll be the home itself.

smart home diagram

Image from Smartbuilt Home

With everything from Apple's Siri to automated coffee machines, both the technology and our own habit patterns are in place for such a reality. The only barrier to a truly connected smart home, it seems, is how to get all these different devices to speak with one another.

There are a growing number of companies addressing smart home technology, from app developers to light bulb manufacturers. From developing a codified syntax (what language are all our home appliances speaking anyway?) to defining which interface will manage them all (the TV remote, desktop computer, mobile phone), the space is wide open.

smart appliances

Illustration by Jeffrey Bowman for Adweek

As the technology falls into place, consumers will begin to truly reap the benefits of the "Internet of things," in which the vast stores of information out there interact with us on an intimate level. From telling us to leave a little earlier because of heavy traffic to helping us pick an appropriate outfit for the day, the home becomes our personal-assistant, not unlike the operating-system-as-love-interest in the recent Spike Jonze film Her (pictured at the top of the post).

modern lighting

Antique Brass Metal Cone Holtkoetter Floor Lamp, Rico Espinet Boom Bronze Robert Abbey Modern Table Lamp, AlessiLux Lumiere Silver and White Accent Light, Lola Modern Chrome with Frosted Glass LBL Bathroom Light

Of course, those of us in the lighting industry are delighted by the possibilities. Everyone loves the innovative styling of modern lighting fixtures, but just imagine if those fixtures could communicate with us: lighting up as we walk through the door or, better yet, monitoring the music we had been listening to on the car ride home and dimming the lights to fit the mood when we walk through the door. In this regard, the home is no longer just responsive, it's predictive. And that's the essence of smart.

Until the time of the smart home comes, of course we can still bark out orders in the morning. Unfortunately, we'll likely be met with silence or, even worse, a rightfully annoyed spouse.

Images: Architect, Smartbuilt Home