Home Automation 2.0

Home Automation 2.0

Authors: Lokesh Johri, Moushumi Ganguly, Neeraj Chauhan

Is “Home Automation” ready for a revolution? Have we discovered the right principles that will lead us to Appliance 2.0? “Smart Connected” appliances are becoming more and more important as IoT enters our kitchen, laundry and living space.


AI with human in the loop

While automation is key to success, we believe that human has to be involved in the decision-making loop in a meaningful way. As we go through our life, our values change, and no AI system can simulate our free will. No such AI system would be satisfying till it is fundamentally designed to act just as a tool and not as a master. There are far too many exceptions that we deal with on a day to day basis. We can do it because we are flexible and understand what we want at any given time.

Designers have to think about the value proposition in a framework. Technology should not be added just because it is “cool”. We need to understand that human habits evolve over time rather than going through sudden changes. We cannot expect human to catch-up later.


Privacy, Security, and Safety

Google Home and Amazon Echo are becoming more popular these days.These devices are coming from big business interested in preserving all the voice data they are always capturing and transferring to the cloud. Imagine, living in a house where everything you speak is there forever owned by these companies. They can mine it to sell your family unwanted stuff, the government can access it by changing regulations, or someone can bring in a court order to get that data! We are not even talking about the hackers, which brings in the security concern. People’s voice can be easily faked and used for accessing their account.

All smart connected appliances have to follow basic established standards rather than trying to re-invent the wheel. Security and safety of this equipment are closely tied and needs to be regularly reviewed by the cyber security experts. If this is not done properly, a harmless dishwasher or a dryer can become a remotely controlled weapon. Before we get unfortunate incidents with the consumers, the industry must step in and develop standards for the home appliances.


Simplicity

The ease of adding a new appliance to your home network and ease of operating it are two factors which are important and yet been consistently ignored. The experience that consumers with opening the box and using them on a daily basis have been targeted just for the early enthusiasts. This must change in a significant manner.


Conclusion

We are entering uncharted waters going into the mass adoption era of Smart Connected Appliances. Are we ready for it- I do not think so. Technology and UX need to develop to the next level. There are important questions about privacy and security that needs more clarity. But, one or the other, within next three years legacy appliances will likely cede the mainstream to their smart connected brethren.