Stanley Kubrick’s legendary cult horror film The Shining portrays its setting, the Overlook Hotel, as both a real, physical place, and as a projection of the inner mindscape of antagonist Jack Torrance. Ghosts real and imagined haunt hallways and rooms, and it’s never quite clear when something is really happening, or it’s just what Jack is seeing in his own mind.
Although Kubrick’s masterpiece uses the supernatural to explain this blurring of lines, a similar blurring may be taking place with the proliferation of wearable technology and home automation. Our homes will not merely be four walls, a fridge and a bathroom, but a realtime projection of ourselves.
Consider the simplest form of home automation: devices that turn on and when you need them, and off when you don’t.
A new device called the WeMo plugs into your outlet and does just that, turning the power on and off as desired. The WeMo connects via wifi to the internet, where you can control when the WeMo powers on and off using any iOS or Android powered device.
An obvious example for how this can come in handy: you can program the WeMo to turn your coffee maker on and start brewing the minute you wake up. If you’ve had a rough day at work, on the other hand, you might want to make sure that your DVD player has the last season of Game of Thrones booted up and ready while you set your popcorn maker to start popping.
Beyond this, there are expensive full-automation systems that can be operated via cell phone app, allowing you to operate lighting, thermostat, television and so on without getting up from your chair, but ultimately, most of this technology has been around since the 1970’s. The future of home automation lies in subtler means of automation.
This is where the line starts to blur: we’re looking at automation that not only allows you to sit in your recliner while giving voice commands to your Android, but automation that doesn’t require you to lift a finger, raise your voice, or even make any conscious, deliberate effort towards getting what you want from your living environment.
Consider the Emotiv EPOC, one of a few consumer devices that allow users to control video games with their brainwaves alone. All a user needs to do is think about firing their weapon in-game, and the weapon is fired.
What the Emotiv EPOC lacks is articulation. Right now, brainwave-reading technology cannot easily attain the same level of precision in input as a controller or a keyboard, so the devices have yet to dominate the gaming industry. The Emotiv EPOC also looks kind of funny, is pricey, and isn’t something that you want to wear all the time. Although the EPOC and similar devices will need to leap these hurdles before brainwave-reading technology becomes mainstream in consumer tech, the possibilities when coupled with other devices boggle the mind.
Consider an Emotiv EPOC attached to a 3D food printer. You need only think about wanting a sandwich and you’ll have a delicious BLT in front of you. Consider the possibilities when the EPOC becomes as small and easy-to-wear as a pair of earbuds, we will be able to simply think about opening our garage doors and they will pop open.
Our homes are expressions of ourselves, our desires, our tastes, our interests, but it is possible that homes in the near future will go even beyond that. It is conceivable that wearable technology combined with WiFi and more sophisticated means of reading a user’s intentions will intersect in such a way that our homes will become realtime projections of our own inner mindscapes.
“Combine this with VR devices like the Oculus Rift and we’re looking at a future where digital, real and even our own inner worlds bleed seamlessly into one another.” said a technology expert with Armor for Android antivirus application.
You need only think about a beer and your fridge will pour you one. You need only reach for your shoes and jacket and your car’s ignition will start (unless it’s in the garage, something your car will be able to detect without your input). In other words, imagine those “Home of the Future” visions from 1950’s science fiction, but taken to a whole new level.
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Christopher is a writer for Android antivirus company Armor for Android. Christopher has worked in the Android security field for several years and provides content and advice to Android users.