‘Smart Home’ has as many questions, as answers

0
491
Pat Grime copy.jpg

Tech sector entrepreneurs are bustling in their laboratories, feverishly developing new ways to improve your life. These bright minds want to enhance your living experience by creating the “smart home,” with furnishings and features more able to anticipate your needs.

Tech sector entrepreneurs are bustling in their laboratories, feverishly developing new ways to improve your life. These bright minds want to enhance your living experience by creating the “smart home,” with furnishings and features more able to anticipate your needs.

For instance, instead of returning from work to a dark, quiet domicile, sensors and web-enabled appliances would interact, turning on the lights, queuing up your favorite music, dialing the thermostat to your preferred setting, and maybe brewing that single cup of decaf, all before you came through the door. 

Of course, should you cross the threshold in a foul mood, these preset arrangements might prove more of an annoyance than an enhancement. And if a practical joking friend surreptitiously changed your preferences, the experience might turn a little creepy.

Still, the wonders of technology could do wonders for us. The refrigerator might keep track of your food stores, sending lists at regular intervals of things you're running low on. Your personal fitness tracker could turn up the heat just before you're about to wake up, or turn it down when it notes your own body temperature rising. Or maybe that health monitor on your wrist could start nagging you about your diet, having analyzed your sweat for indicators of junk food consumption.

The Japanese have established themselves as true innovators by inventing the smart toilet. These clever fixtures feature heated seats, lids that rise or close via sensors or remote control, bidets, dryers, and deodorizers. I understand the more sophisticated of these commodes appliance can be programmed to monitor one's health by analyzing..um… what one leaves in them.

What could go wrong? There remain too many unanswered questions. What if my scale remotely alerted the refrigerator to refuse me access based upon my increasing tonnage?  What if sensors in the entryway floor read my unsteady gait, causing the liquor cabinet to go on failsafe lock down?  What if a smart toothbrush posted to my facebook page the feeble duration and intensity of my nightly fang scrubbing?  I certainly don't want to have to put up with that nonsense.

I’d hate to have my health tracking bracelet set off a piercing alarm as I devour my third chili dog. Or have the front door refuse to unlock because I can’t recall my pass code or grandma’s maiden name to reset it. Or have my smart socks notify the washing machine to add extra bleach to the upcoming load. Or have my web-enabled, moisture-wicking, control top T-shirt turn off the TV and return my easy chair to the non-reclined position while pointedly recommending a jog around the block.

No, I will stick with my regular house and its unconnected accoutrements. Being monitored by the things I own doesn't sound so hot; there's no benefit to having so many impartial observers to my unnatural daily routine. And, frankly, once those smart machine witnesses know too much, who knows what unfortunate accidents might befall them? 

Maybe a truly “smart home” is one that minds its own business.

Pat Grimes, a former South Bay resident, writes from Ypsilanti, Mich. He can be reached at pgwriter@inbox.com

‘Smart Home’ has as many questions, as answers