It’s official – the 1999 Disney Channel Original film Smart House has moved out of fantasyland and into reality. While admittedly we don’t yet have breathalyzers that analyze your diet or carpets that absorb smoothie spills, we aren’t as far off as you might think!These incredible home apps upgrade daily living, allowing users to monitor and adjust their homes to startling specificity.
With What is the smart home?, I started a series that looks at the implications of the Internet of Things taking over our homes. The thesis is that the Silicon Valley geniuses who are designing smart thermostats don’t know much about how heating systems work, and the people designing smart houses don’t know much about houses or the people who occupy them. In 1956, if someone wanted a vision of the smart house of the future, they would go to architects; now it’s all about interconnected sensors designed by engineers. As much as I continue to praise the dumb home, we are going into an era of tumultuous change in how our houses work and how we interact with the things in them.
The challenge of being a futurist pioneer is being Patient Zero for the future’s headaches.
In 2009, Raul Rojas, a computer science professor at the Free University of Berlin (and a robot soccer team coach), built one of Germany’s first “smart homes.” Everything in the house was connected to the Internet so that lights, music, television, heating and cooling could all be turned on and off from afar. Even the stove, oven, and microwave could be turned off with Rojas’s computer, which prevented some potential panic attacks about leaving an appliance on after exiting the house. One of the few things not connected in the house were the locks. Automated locks Rojas bought in 2009 are still sitting in a drawer waiting to be installed. “I was afraid of not being able to open the doors,” Rojas said in a phone interview.
Westinghouse is in the house. The smart house. Westinghouse Security launched this week at CES 2015 with a Z-Wave home automation hub built into one of the smartest door locks out there. Too smart, maybe, but we’ll get to that.
At a recent panel discussion on smart homes held at Toronto’s Workshop, three of the four panelists had been on TreeHugger before: Janna Levitt, Paul Dowsett and Ted Kesik. Both Ted and Paul showed this image of what they considered to be a really smart house: a wigwam, as built by the Algonquin and Chippewa. And it is surprisingly* really sophisticated…
Many people already have smart phones, but not many people live in a smart house.
You could call it a “house of the future” and Onondaga Community College now has one just off campus.
The power grid and many of the appliances are connected wirelessly and have the ability to communicate with one another, but OCC views the smart house more as a living laboratory.
For many years — decades even — we have been waiting for the automated “smart” house — a house that is as technically advanced as our automobiles. For decades, we have been able to remotely lock and unlock our car doors, raise and lower our car windows, adjust temperatures for different parts of the car seating areas, and even clean the back and front windows.
Why can’t we do that with our houses? Why are our homes dumb?
Many people know what a Smart Car is, but what is a “smart house?”
A model home in the River Oaks subdivision shows how residents in the Houston area can look forward to saving on electricity use and utility costs.
Imagine the house of the future.
If it gets too hot outside, the house reduces the need for air conditioning by drawing its shade panels.
When temperatures drop in winter, high-efficiency insulation panels slide in place to conserve heat.
In fact, this house could brew your morning coffee and turn on your favorite music before you get out of bed.
Welcome to LumenHaus, Virginia Tech’s newest solar-powered “smart house” and the university’s entry in the 2009 U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon.
The name comes from “lumen,” meaning “power of light,” and “haus,” a nod to the Bauhaus architectural movement that inspired the new prototype.
The 800-square-foot LumenHaus is a broad stepping evolution from the original Solar House design that won Tech high marks in the 2002 and 2005 solar decathlons.
The new design incorporates two years of work from dozens of students in various fields of study.
Powered by double-efficient solar panels and heated and cooled with geothermal heat pumps, the house is designed to maximize the use of natural light and expand the living space to the outdoors using expansive decks. The new prototype also uses computer automation to save energy and create a more comfortable living space, architecture professor and project faculty adviser Joe Wheeler said.
One particularly interesting feature was created by computer science students, who wrote an iPhone application to remotely monitor and control the structure’s energy use.
Forget to turn off the oven? Irritated that the computer and the TV are sucking electricity while you’re at work? With LumenHaus, you can switch them off using your iPhone, Wheeler said.
The original solar house was designed by former Tech architecture graduate students Bryan Atwood and Brett Moss.
While LumenHaus is “a totally new design … on the other hand, we like to think of it as the evolution of the past project. We don’t start over, we just continue to develop the concept,” Wheeler said.