Ignore Qualcomm's excitement, the Internet of Things hasn’t arrived in homes
The future is here! We are actually living in the future. The futuristic sci-fi imaginings of the 1960's are not only a reality, they have been bettered, exceeded and trumped. At least that's what we're led to believe. The reality is rather different.
A lot of excitement has been pinned on the Internet of Things -- little more than connected, communicating devices -- but Qualcomm is taking things even further. In a video released ahead of CES 2015, the chipmaker waxes lyrical about not the Internet of Things we're supposed to know and love, but the Internet of Everything. And it's here. Apparently.
The idea's pretty much the same: it's Qualcomm's take on the Internet of Things polished up to add a little extra hype and buzz. The video itself is typical advertising-style guff, all shiny surfaces, beautiful people and white paint as we're treated to a peak into the lives of couple living in a smart, connected house.
A smart water meter is the first thing we're introduced to. It gives a running tally of how much water is being pumped out by the faucet while the lady of house wanders off to take a phone call -- quite why she couldn't remain by the sink isn’t made immediately clear. What's also not made clear is the cost and upheaval involved in getting the water system set up. Replacing faucets is something most people will do when there is a problem with the existing one. Faucets last for years, and the extra cost that would almost certainly be involved in upgrading to smart versions will be a deterrent for many, many years to come.
The same can be said of the smart washing machine that alerts Mr Smart House that the washing cycle has finished -- because just knowing how long a cycle takes to complete is clearly a great chore. A washing machine is not cheap and, like faucets, tend to be part of the family for many, many years. Even if you're in the market for a new one to replace your old unit that’s about to give up the ghost/has died a death, what are you more likely to opt for -- something that similar but perhaps more economical to run than your current machine, or one that's a few hundred dollars more that lets you know when it's done? That's what the beeping is for. And the big display. And common sense.
Oh… Smart Lady is back. The house knows she's left the tap running -- as she probably did. An alert is generated -- because that's what smart houses do; alert you to things, constantly. A text message or alarm is not deemed sufficient. Nope, we need to flash the lights! Hopefully there are no photo-sensitive epileptics in the house, or people chopping vegetables late at night in the kitchen. Flashing lights aren't a good way to alert people to things, it's just bloody annoying and potentially dangerous!
Standing in front of the TV - clearly not a very smart one because it didn’t explode with fury when the occupants of the house left it unattended and unwatched for a few moments, unlike the moaning faucet -- a message pops up as a reminder to take medication. From, of course, a smart pill box.
So smart is the house, and so comprehensive are the warnings, alerts and reminders, that the couples -- poor dumb meat sacks that they are -- have regressed. They no longer have a need to speak with each other. Communications appears to be carried out telepathically or via touch as not a word or hand gesture passes between them. They venture outside, but who knows how long they'll survive out there when they realize that the trees aren’t going to give them directions to the shops, and lamp posts don;t tell them that it's time to use the toilet.
Of course, the house we see in the video is not a typical house -- it's meant to be a showcase of what's possible, and what a small number of people might expect to see and implement in their homes many years down the line. Is it cool? Yeah, kinda. Is it the best use of technology? Arguably not.
Check out the video for yourself and see what you think:
Qualcomm asks "why wait?", to which I say, well, I'm perfectly capable of turning off water, I can remember to take pills if I need to, and having been alive for 35 years I think I'm well-versed in use of a washing machine. Oh yeah, and I'm not replacing hardware that works perfectly well just to add the gimmick of connecting it to other devices. For now, I'll pass thanks. I'm happy with a smartphone, I don’t need more "smart" devices -- I've not regressed to the state of a helpless child yet. And I'm not quite ready to be told off by my house.