[clock ringing] - Your alarm clock goes off and reads you the weather including the pollen count for the day.
It hopefully suggests that you take some allergy medicine.
You walk into the bathroom and your shower turns on, and heats up to your preferred temperature.
The toilet reads data from your urine, and lets you know that you're low on potassium.
The day is heating up, and the smart blinds come down to shade the house.
The AC kicks on to keep the house cool.
You grab a banana, gotta get that potassium up, and an egg outta the fridge.
It knows that you've eaten the last one, and automatically puts in an order for more.
All of this happens before you even get to work.
This scenario might seem far fetched, but it's closer than you think.
Smart homes aren't just convenient, they have the potential to transform the fight against climate change by radically reducing our personal energy consumption.
But what are the downsides of smart home tech?
I'm Swapna Krishna.
Let's explore the future of smart homes.
[upbeat music] ♪ The energy we use to power homes in the US is a huge chunk of the energy budget.
- Overall right now, buildings represent about, between 70 to 75% of our electricity consumption, and residential buildings or homes represent about half of that.
So if you picture overall our buildings that we're thinking about, and how much energy they're consuming, it's a substantial portion.
- A smart thermostat can limit wasted heating and cooling by only turning on when you need it to.
It can use data from weather services, and learn your activity patterns to keep your home comfortable without you having to make the effort to program it.
In the smart home of the future, you might not even need to check in.
Floorboard sensors or cameras could let your home's operating system figure out that you're not around, and adjust accordingly.
The next biggest slice of the home energy pie is water heating, lighting, and refrigeration.
In 2015, these three categories combined accounted for 27% of total annual home energy use in the US.
Many of these can be smart-ified to save energy.
Another 21% comes from smart devices.
Getting into bed and turning off all your lights with the voice command isn't just a good idea.
It can be crucial for people with disabilities.
A smart fridge can alert you on your smart watch if the door is left open, while also letting you look up a recipe on the touch screen on the door.
A smart washing machine of the future could automatically run a load when energy is least taxing on the local grid.
Many of these innovations are already available to consumers, but the problem is the infrastructure.
There aren't widely used systems in place to tell the smart washing machine when the energy grid is least taxed so it knows to run, or tell a fridge to use less power at peak times.
That is the next step, making these connections so appliances in your home can talk to the grid, which would result in the energy savings actually making a difference at a larger scale.
Current smart meters communicate with energy companies to tell them what you're using and how you're using it.
If you have solar panels or other energy generation on your property, they also communicate how much power you're creating, but they don't necessarily tell you about the strain on the grid as a whole.
And they don't talk to your smart home to tell when to run energy-intensive appliances.
If we could fill in this missing step, estimates put the cost savings of using smart meters at $157 billion by 2035.
The technology exists.
We just have to implement it.
Okay, so this all sounds great, but how do smart homes actually work?
All of those devices in your home make up what's known as the internet of things or IOT.
One of the hallmarks of an IOT device is that it doesn't need human input.
It can sense what's happening and deliver that information to the Cloud.
It then continues to improve its service based on what it learns.
This is how our homes are becoming smart.
The number of connected internet of things devices is expected to hit 14.4 billion by the end of 2022.
By 2025, they're expected to increase to 27.1 billion.
The problem is that not all of these devices are talking to one another.
They all require their own proprietary apps.
- If we are able to knock down those silos, and if we're able to create more common ways to connect in a common language for the internet of things, one, it will be easier for product makers and developers to create products that connect to one another.
And two, it will be easier for consumers to choose smart home objects and smart home devices, and to adopt the internet of things.
- The Connectivity Standards Alliance is working on exactly this, creating a shared language to allow all of these smart home devices to communicate with one another.
Even the tech giants have signed on, and the organization has over 500 members.
This new standard is called Matter.
The key here is that it's not a platform.
It's a set of standards that everyone who's part of the Alliance and not a trader will comply with.
They'll allow all of those siloed IOT devices to talk to one another and work together.
If it works like it's supposed to, you won't even notice it's there.
But what you will see is that you can use your chosen voice assistant or app to control all of the Matter-compliant devices in your home.
Apple has already announced that HomeKit will be compatible with it, and Amazon's Echo devices will be as well.
Once it's in place, what new capabilities will your smart home have?
- Today it's adjusting lighting, adjusting temperature, and adjusting sound and casting.
In the future, I think it will be much more around how do I use smart technology to save money, to reduce my carbon footprint, to improve my health and wellness?
All of these types of things will be available to consumers the richer the networks are in their home.
- But there's a downside to all of this convenience.
The privacy trade off.
In the internet era, we've all had to adjust to a trade off between privacy and convenience.
Yes, our houses are spying on us, but they use that data to make our lives more comfortable and efficient.
But smart homes are collecting a lot of personal data.
Is that a bad thing?
- Basically, they are sensing the world around us which includes you, your patterns, your activity, possibly what you're watching, what you're saying.
- We know smart speakers listen for, "Okay, Google", or "Hey Siri" which means they're collecting data even when they aren't really supposed to be on.
Your smart thermostats know when you're home and when you aren't.
Your baby monitor might even know your infant's sleep habits.
You can imagine what a hacker can do with this kind of data.
They can exploit security loopholes and hijack your cameras.
It's on tech companies to chase down bugs, and close these possible access points to ensure customer safety.
- We should demand better of the vendors, and hold them accountable for their actions, right?
- The government is still playing catch up in terms of regulation.
In 2019, California passed a law that requires manufacturers to integrate reasonable security features into their IOT devices.
For example, making sure that initial passwords are either unique between devices, or that the user sets their own password from the beginning.
Other states are following suit.
Researchers like Vyas are also working to make the devices more secure.
- We've been developing technologies for adding security at the network layer even though the devices themselves or the vendors themselves may not be producing the latest and greatest security postures, at the network layer you can act like as a guardian angel to block the attacks from reaching the IOT devices.
- The safety, or lack thereof, of a smart home can have bigger consequences, too.
- The scary scenarios that people have thought about is like, say, somebody finds a way to hack all the the Tesla battery walls, or these EV, electric vehicle, charging facilities, and then use that to launch an attack on the grid, and the grid goes as a blackout.
- It sounds scary, but there is good news.
It's working to make security a priority asking that the companies that work within their networks meet security and data privacy standards.
It's also having members put a symbol on future packaging that will indicate whether smart home devices met these security requirements making it easy for anyone who sees the packaging in the store to determine whether the device is secure.
We routinely accept privacy infringement for the sake of convenience.
For example, if you use a free email provider, I'm sorry to tell you that your data is the product.
Our smart home's just the next step.
- There's a lot of really interesting things that can be done with connected devices and smart devices that will help improve comfort for people, but also help improve their day-to-day living, and ideally also improve society and the community around them.
Saving energy, saving time, saving money, and letting people do things that are more important.
- Today's smart homes are a good start, but they're just the beginning.
In the future, automation can be built into your house rather than added on towards the end.
We're talking a house wired with sensors that can detect and monitor everything from energy usage, as we've discussed, to your health status, up to and including calling an ambulance if it detects you've had a heart attack.
Thanks for watching this episode of "Far Out".
What do you think of smart homes and privacy?
What kind of legislation would you like to see protecting our personal data?
Let us know in the comments.
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