Computers At Home – The Smart Home

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It wasn’t until the 90s that the idea of a fully automated home became thinkable.  Bill Gates had envisioned every one in the planet should have a PC and that was almost a reality then.  The concept of having appliances controlled from a central console with computer chips embedded in each set communicating to a central home server emerged to become a computer buzzword in the term smart home.  
Consumer electronic trade shows all over the world have been trumpeting intelligent appliances and gadgets and their benefits for more than a decade now.  What’s making the smart home from becoming as common as a mobile phone is the cost.  While the technology is already there to construct a smart home, the cost remains elusive but for a select few who can afford.
What Makes a Smart Home?
It thinks for you. It uses Artificial Intelligence in a home computing network connecting all the rooms.   That’s the ideal definition of a smart home.  It can wake you up, turn up the blinds and open windows in the morning.  It secures the house, locks the doors and windows and sets the alarms when you’re out. It communicates to your office by remotely showing you what happens inside the house while away. You can even do some chores remotely.   It can dispense food to your pets.  It turns the lights on when you’re in the room and turns off when you’re out.  It can wash the clothes remotely, cook food, record TV broadcasts and sets the temperature at the right level when it knows you’re about to get home.   
All these and a few more things that someone can think of next get organized as home electronic and electrical fixtures and appliances are controlled on a central server that gives the instructions after getting data from ambient sensors everywhere in the house.  Is this science fiction?  Not anymore.
Some of the most recent consumer electronic trade fairs have shown what a smart home’s intelligence is about.  The commercial computer gadgets are available and all you need are home sensors, a network and appliances that can be hooked to a home network so they can communicate with a home server either in the house or located remotely.  With the internet, the home becomes just another icon on your mobile gadget from which you can control every appliance remotely.  You only need to prepare them before leaving, like putting all the dirty laundry on a bin that feeds into a washing machine and you can activate it anytime from the office.  
What We Have Today
In many homes, you have a PC, printer, scanner and maybe a wireless router to hook another PC or mobile laptop on a shared internet access.  But that’s about it for the common household.  For sure, there are already intelligent appliances out there.  They have chips that control their operation but they can’t get instructions from computers. There are fuzzy-logic washing machines, thermostat controlled air conditioners, heaters and refs that tell you what food items need to be replaced.
There are sophisticated door lock systems, surveillance cameras, motion sensors, remote controlled garage doors, light dimmers for the yard, energy-saving programmable gadgets, computerized home entertainment systems, timer-activated recorders, motion-sensor lighting systems and remote-controlled window blinds and curtains, but you have to be there to operate them.  
They can’t be proactive to your needs or do stuff without you.  In contrast, a central AI-based server connecting all these can have instructions to control these appliances from sensors feeding conditional ambient data in the house.
What is needed is a home network, the home sensors, the appliances that can understand computer language and the application to control them.  They really are pricey, so until they are accessible to many, it looks like Smart homes are reserved to the rich and very rich.  GP

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