HomeHero’s Junior Developer Alex Clay explores the rise of the Smart Home, from Star Trek to Siri and Alexa.

Every few decades, the home sees a drastic shift. In the early 1900s, it was the introduction of appliances like vacuum cleaners. In the 1990s it was technology like Life Alert to help senior citizens. Since the early 2000s the increasing presence of home automation has begun to make the smart homes of science fiction a reality.

The Nest Thermostat was initially released in 2011, coinciding with the addition of Siri to Apple iPhones. Nest was acquired in 2014 for $3.2 billion, it is hardly a coincidence that the Amazon Alexa was released the same year. This presented the key message that the major players in tech were beginning to take a serious interest in a new industry: the home. 

Since then Apple and Google have both released speakers with smart home capabilities. Though initially a serious investment, the cost of such technology has sharply dropped in the past five years. We’ve seen the addition of smaller and cheaper versions such as Amazon’s Echo Dot, which during a promotion in 2017 briefly cost nothing at all. 

Though not taking such drastic measures, Apple announced in October that the Apple HomePod would be gaining a smaller counterpart as well. This took the entry cost down to £99 from £279. As such, the high-tech homes of the future in films are beginning to take shape and become more affordable. 

 In fact, in many cases the easiest way to predict the future of technology is to turn to film and television. “…you could be anywhere on the Starship Enterprise and you could say the world “computer” and it would wake up and answer any question, and that’s our goal,” Amazon’s SVP for Devices said in 2017. Amazon isn’t the only company to draw inspiration from franchises like Star Trek. The science fiction genre has long acted as a strong predictor of the direction technology is heading. From the VR headsets of Ready Player One or the self-driving cars of Total Recall. This is no different for the technology of the home industry. 

The Jetsons, a 1960s television program accurately predicted video-chatting and the ability to control a home at the press of a button. With more recent advancements, a touch of a button sometimes isn’t even required. Nanoleaf, a lighting company, has an app that allows for custom light schedules, meaning that the light will automatically change based on the time of day. Siri and other digital assistants have also begun to predict their users, to bring information they might want to the forefront before they’re even aware they want it. 

Films and television have long acted as inspiration for and predictors of technology. Ironically, to predict where technology will go in the future, it’s best to look at the past and the media that shaped today’s engineers and scientists.

While many strides to the home of the future are being made by tech giants like Apple and Google, it was smaller companies like Nest and Roomba that formed the start of the “smart home” movement.

HomeHero is no different as it looks to create Home as a Service. Using AWS as the foundation for its services, HomeHero will transform how people set up and manage their home. 

Time for another? Head to Startup Life for more interesting articles from the HomeHero team.

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