Smart Home Evolution

This is our view of where the smart home is heading and is based on more than 11 years of living in our own self-built smart home. It is our view of the historical, current and future stages of smart home evolution. This is important to us because our vision of what the smart home will become is a significant driving force behind our strategy to deliver it. Our vision also influences the design and the technologies used to implement our smart home. It helps us avoid products, services and technology that might look clever and useful, but are not a step in the right direction to delivering our vision.

1. Simple Automation

Simple automation via timers and actuators. These include things like PIR activated security ligths, programmable timers used on central heating system, etc.

2. Remote Control Devices

Basic remote control of hardware via IR remotes and other wireless remote control technologies.

3. Remote Control Apps

Simple apps to enable remote control of devices and views of sensor data. Typically these types of devices are aimed at a vertical problem such as heating control, access control, etc. Most of the current consumer smart home market is based on app controlled devices.

4. Schedules & Scenes

More complex control scenarios (multiple devices from one event). These can also be scheduled and this includes adaptive scheduling, where schedules are postponed or extended based on other contextual data.

5. Voice Control

This is about the current level of the Apple Home service and devices like the Amazon Echo. Whilst they exhibit some characteristics of artificial narrow intelligence [9], they do little more than enable voice control requests within the context of the smart home. These services are really offering little more than remote control via voice.

6. Contextually Aware Smart Home

The context aware smart home has all the information and context required to make intelligent decisions, what we call 'whole home context'. The smart home is now adapting its behaviour based on stored context and is able to model things like rooms/zones (and the relationships between them), occupancy and presence, location, people, etc.

The smart home is no longer a request/response service but has inherent feedback paths and is using context (day/night, in/out/away, occupied/unoccupied, etc.) to change its behaviour as a whole and at a room/zone level.

7. Autonomous Smart Home

The smart home just works around its users with no explicit user interaction. It can predict and adapt its behaviour, making intelligent decisions based on whole home context and sensor data. For most smart home features it has become 'zero touch'.

The smart home is no longer purely responsive to requests and can understand threats and proactively take action to handle them. Assisted living is assumed for all users.

8. Learning Smart Home

The smart home is capable of learning from previous events and interactions, changing its future behaviour to better meet user needs.

9. Artificial Narrow Intelligence (ANI)

Users can have a natural language dialogue (via text and voice) with the smart home to query and control everything within it. It has some understanding of immediate and relevent external influences but cannot understand generic requests outside of the scope of the smart home. This is the level at which our own smart home is currently operating. Some context is retained, to enable a basic conversation thread.

Some devices and services such as the Amazon Echo and Siri are currently operating at this level but, are really just voice control [5] devices when considered within the context of the smart home.

10. Artificial Broad Intelligence

The smart home artificially intelligence is extended outside of the scope of the smart home to enable generic questions and requests to be fullfilled. Context is retained to enable an advanced conversation thread, with pronouns used to reference previous objects and concepts mentioned.

11. Sentient Artificial Intelligence

The smart home is sentient and aware system that can look after itself and its occupants, handling any and all requests made upon it, except those that required physical interaction with passive objects within it. The smart home is now a specialist form of an intelligent robot.

12. Generic Robots

The smart home now has robotic assistants that match its level of intelligence and can physically interact with any object within the home. Your smart home can now make you a cup of tea and deliver it to you in bed!

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