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Being "smart" may not be enough for the high-tech home of the future. In order to meet its full potential, says Diane Cook, an engineer at Washington State University, smart homes will need to start thinking and making decisions for themselves.
Smart homes won't be taking over the world anytime soon, says Cook. But, they will need the ability to learn the habits and preferences of their inhabitants and to make decisions without human input.
That’s because the average human simply won’t be able to program and manage the increasingly complex software that smart homes are likely to feature. Cook runs 25 test smart homes, including some “smart” assisted living apartments, throughout the Pacific Northwest. In an interview posted by Life Science, Cook described her dream home as one that can continually monitor its inhabitants’ activities in order to catch emerging health conditions early enough to allow for timely interventions.
The home will also be ready to serve its residents in a variety of ways, either by preparing a bath just when it’s needed, feeding the dog, fine-tuning interior temperatures, or deciding when to water the grass.
Most importantly, the home will keep an eye on itself in order to prevent system malfunctions like the front door opening in the middle of the night.
Some researchers are making progress in designing the systems that can power the smart home that Cook envisions. But 2 major barriers still stand in the way: