A “smart” household

I was rudely awoken at around 2am this morning by my washing machine. It had mysteriously stopped mid-cycle and felt the need to beep really loudly to tell me all about it. The problem was that it couldn’t. That is, it could not tell me why it had stopped and what I needed to do to get it moving again. Is it simply not very smart?

This had me wondering what is out there that could be considered a “smart” household object.

Here’s a site that caught my eye. And the eye catching wasn’t just because of the phrase “toys for the boys and gadgets for the girls”. What’s the difference between a toy and a gadget, and why are they gender different is a whole other post?  The content that I liked –

  • What are the motivations for purchasing a £50,000 games console?  I’ve always found the consumer behaviour field of sales and marketing fascinating. The psychological makeup of a purchaser in this regard might make for an interesting case study.
  • For some a hot bubble-bath with some healthy salts is the perfect relaxant after a hard day’s work. How about one that’s simultaneously a sauna, jacuzzi and steam room?  I’m relaxing just thinking about it.
  • Other people prefer sinking into their favourite comfie chair and having some preferred music playing to add to the atmosphere. What about a chair that makes you feel like you’re sitting inside a sound speaker?  The music oozes through the chair. Sounds good? It would set you back a cool £15,000 – worth it? Perhaps not.

Another site commented that “great technology is the stuff that solves problems you already have”.  That’s quite a claim. How realistic is it? Examples given of such problems are washing the floors, rigging up a music system throughout the house without massacring walls, and cooking the dinner.  Apparently there are techie gadgets that will let you do these things. Not a mention of a washing machine that will wash the clothes without mysteriously stopping half way.

Smart gadgets has some intriguing techie toys / gadgets on show. No smart washing machine there either.

My search for smart household devices threw up some interesting results. Some were wacky, weird and wonderful. Others challenged the notion of smart.  What does “smart” mean and how “smart” is “smart enough”?

When it behaves, my washing machine really is smart. It doesn’t have any self-awareness, not is it multi-purpose. But it’s intelligent enough to do what I want it to do. I put the clothes in, put in some washing detergent, twiddle a few knobs, disappear for a few hours and when I come back, hey presto, clean clothes. Quite simply, it’s intelligent enough. When things go wrong it’s also displaying intelligence of sorts.  It beeps loudly enough to bring me running to help it out. Surely this calling for help is intelligent “thinking”.

Haven’t we come a long way?

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Posted on April 28, 2009, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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