2012 was an incredible year in technology. Google showed off its incredible self-driving cars and Google Glasses which takes augmented reality to the next level. Social networking juggernauts continued to duke it out as Facebook gobbled up Instagram and Twitter kicked developers out to the curb. And, of course, we saw a flurry of awesome apps like Clear, Wunderlist, and Letterpress being released, continuing to drive the mobile revolution.
With 2013 approaching on the horizon, predicting the future of tech is always fun and exciting as it plays to our own personal wishes of what’s in store. My prediction of 2013’s biggest trend in technology? A smarter house. Let’s examine the crystal ball.
An API for your lightbulb
When I first heard about internet refrigerators, I thought innovation had run dry amongst appliance makers. This past year, we’ve seen the true potential of how connecting the objects in our household could be truly groundbreaking.
Earlier this year, Twine became one of Kickstarter’s most famous and successful projects. This rubbery, blue square is connected to the Web and has numerous sensors such for temperature and moisture, as well as an accelerometer. When configured, Twine could notify you via email, text, or Twitter when your laundry is done or your house is being flooded. The options are limitless.
Twine is reminiscent of a web app called IFTTT(If This, Then That), that brought your most important online services to work seamlessly together. For instance, you can tell IFTTT to save photos you like on Instagram to Evernote. Earlier in June, IFTTT brought support for Belkin’s WeMo accessories, the first time the service had connected home appliances to the web. For instance, you can setup rules to turn on the light when the sun sets during the afternoon.
Remember when motion detection used to be the coolest thing ever? Both Twine and IFTTT heralds the arrival of more ways to make the objects in our homes even smarter, without our supervision.
Working around the clock
When Apple released the latest version of OS X, Mountain Lion, one of the neatest features was Power Nap. Essentially, when you’ve put your computer to sleep, Power Nap continues to work behind the scenes to download the latest email, run backups, and sync data across your calendar, contacts, and other apps.
Why should our technologies stop working when we’re not using them? Energy efficiency is one key concern which all companies will have to continue working hard to solve. However, as technology inevitably advances, we may see more applications of this idea in the future. For instance, rather than check email multiple times throughout the day, why not have our email programs notify us of an email only when it thinks it’s important? Such ideas could have a profound impact on people’s productivity, saving them time from having to attend to mundane tasks.
What are your predictions for 2013?
“Siri, turn off my room light and find me a good action movie to watch. Oh, and make me some popcorn while you’re at it. Thanks.”
Will we be talking with our houses next year? Who knows. We’re already starting to talk with our smart phones, asking it to wake us up in the morning and give us directions to the mall. Imagine going house shopping and rather than having a human as a real estate agent, the house itself gives you the grand tour. Wouldn’t that just be crazy? Hardly.