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A blog from CityRealty (Links below will take you to the 6sqft site)


At the start of every new year, futurologists inform us of what the next 12 months might have in store. For 2017, there is widespread speculation that the Internet of Things will continue to reshape our lives and homes in profound and lasting ways.
If you haven’t already familiarized yourself with the Internet of Things (also known simply as the IoT) the concept is generally used to talk about the networking of objects. Increasingly, sensors are being embedded in physical objects of all kinds from refrigerators to running shoes to pacemakers. These objects are then linked through wireless networks to the Internet. When objects are networked, however, their potential changes. When you network a pair of shoes, for example, data can flow from the shoes to a computer for analysis. In turn, a shoemaker can start producing shoes not simply in your size but shoes that are made-to-order to better respond to your specific way of walking or running. The bottom line is that when objects can both sense what is happening in an environment and communicate this information back to us and to other objects, they are no longer simply innate objects but rather responsive tools that can be used in new and potentially revolutionary ways.

Where to find the IoT

When it comes to our homes, the IoT is already beginning to leave its mark. The most common IoT applications can be found in home appliances. For example, there are already many apps that enable homeowners to control their air conditioners and heaters from a distance. Similar technologies exist for everything from outdoor sprinkler systems to home entertainment systems. In 2016, Samsung also launched a smart refrigerator. Among other functions, the refrigerator enables owners to peer at their food from any location via an app on their phone. But this is not the extent of current IoT innovations for the home.
If you have difficulty keeping a grocery list, you can now invest in a GeniCan. The GeniCan, which you attach to a regular garbage can, is essentially a barcode reader. When you toss an item out, you simply swipe the item’s barcode code and the item is automatically added to a shopping list that appears on your phone. Of course, there are times when you may simply not know if an item should be tossed out or not. After all, how can you know for certain that the eggs in your refrigerator are still edible? For this problem, you may want to try the highly affordable Egg Minder. The Egg Minder uses an LED light and app to let you know which eggs are good and which ones are ready to be tossed away. Finally, for anyone who is willing to get even more intimately connected to the IoT, there is the HAPIfork. This Bluetooth enabled fork lets you know whether or not you’re chewing your food properly—indeed, the HAPIfork sends a sort of play-by-play of your eating habits to your phone after every meal.

The Home that Knows Us

The most profound shift that will occur as the IoT seeps into our homes is that increasingly our homes will know us better than we know them. While this may sound strange, with the IoT’s arrival, the idea that one might be the “master” of his or her own home will soon be a distant memory.

Our homes, or more precisely networked objects in our homes, will know when we are present and more importantly, they will be able to track and even respond to our idiosyncratic habits. Theoretically, in the future, rather than program machines to do things at certain times of day, the objects in our homes will simply respond to our needs, habits and movements. Getting out of bed, unless it is in the middle of the night, may trigger our coffee maker to turn on. Likewise, entering or leaving our home will automatically alter the temperature and lightening. Other innovations may be even more profound. In the future, a bathroom mirror may do more than reflect back our image. With the IoT, a mirror may also be able to generate vitals and even warn us that we our immune system is comprised. In turn, this data may be used to automatically order immune boasting supplements that will be delivered to our home or workplace within hours. In other words, moving forward, our home will increasingly communicate with us, respond to our habits and needs, and better yet, communicate with other objects and services so we don’t need to do so.

The New Home Security Crisis

In the past, home security has simply been about locks, surveillance cameras and alarm systems. With the IoT, however, home security is expected to face new and yet unresolved challenges. Like U.S. businesses, which spend millions of dollars every year attempting to protect private information, homeowners will soon be faced with similar security problems. One of the first warning signs that the IoT poses great risks to consumers occurred in late October 2016 during a large-scale Internet outage in the United States. Investigations revealed that the outage was the fault of foreign hackers who had successfully taken over home appliances and used them as a base to launch the attack.
Of course, if an outside hacker can take over one’s networked refrigerator or air conditioner to launch an attack on another business, this means that any personal data flowing through one’s appliances is also at risk. Simply put, if you don’t want the world to know how long you chew your food, whether your refrigerator is full of rotting food, or when you are and are not home, you may want to hold off embracing the IoT. And while not yet determined, there is also speculation that as the IoT invades our homes, home insurance rates will spike in response new and complex security concerns.
A woman dials up a meal in her smart kitchen in "1999 AD," a 1967 film about the home of the future.

Past Future Homes

Although the IoT is bound to transform our homes in the near future, it is worth noting that in the past, predictions for the home of the future have not always unfolded as imagined. In 1999 AD, a 1967 film released by the Philco-Ford Corporation, predictions for the home of the future are both eerily accurate and hilariously misguided. While the film accurately predicts that families will spend an increasing amount of time on front of screens, that daily tasks, including shopping, will be carried out with the aid of networked computers, and that dads may spend more time working from home via a computer, the film also gets at least a few key things wrong.
In 1999 AD, cooking is no longer necessary since precooked meals are simply “dialed up” from one’s smart kitchen, but women still appear to be relegated to the kitchen. Moreover, while the film accurately predicts the rise of both online shopping and the remote workforce, it inaccurately predicts that both would be entrenched by 1999—in reality, neither was entrenched until at least a decade later. One can assume that like the past home of the future depicted in 1999 AD, any predictions for the IoT’s home of the future made in 2017 will only partially capture how our lives and homes will evolve over the coming decades.

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Contributing Writer Cait Etherington Cait Etherington has over twenty years of experience working as a journalist and communications consultant. Her articles and reviews have been published in newspapers and magazines across the United States and internationally. An experienced financial writer, Cait is committed to exposing the human side of stories about contemporary business, banking and workplace relations. She also enjoys writing about trends, lifestyles and real estate in New York City where she lives with her family in a cozy apartment on the twentieth floor of a Manhattan high rise.
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