The Future Is Now

The Jetsons’ Food-a-Rac-a-Cycle and Jules Verne’s Phonotelephote may have been science fiction last century, but these imaginative marvels have become reality in the 21st century, along with 3-D printers and video-calling capabilities. Possibilities that we entertained ourselves with just a few years ago have become the technology products we use today, according to Dave Pedigo, senior director of learning and emerging technologies for the Custom Electronic Design & Installation Association. Pedigo sees four technological advancements that are accessible for your home now.

Home Automation
According to the Pew Research Center, 91 percent of adults own a cellphone and 56 percent of cellphone owners own smartphones. In an age of personal technology saturation, home automation is a slow-growing technology.

“I don’t think people truly realize how much stuff can actually be controlled with your phone,” Pedigo says. From automated washer-dryer systems to seeing who is at your front door or turning on lights — even fire protection services — home automation offers benefits of convenience, energy savings and increased safety.

“We certainly are getting to a point of being able to monitor and manage the amount of energy we are using,” Pedigo says. Appliances will soon communicate with utility services to run only when the cost of running is cheapest that day. General Electric’s line of smart appliances also offers the convenience of controlling your appliances via a smartphone application. Ultimately, when it comes to home automation, “There are programs where you can pay very little for setup and then pay a monthly fee, and it can go all the way up to a million dollars if you want to,” Pedigo says. “The sky’s the limit.”

Aging-In-Place Advancements
For seniors living at home, technology is being developed and put in place to allow them to live at home longer and more safely. “It will be significantly cheaper for the individual to use these kinds of systems instead of going to a managed-care facility, even if they can only stay in their home for one or two more years,” Pedigo says.

Examples of this aging-in-place technology include bed sensors, medical equipment that emails statistics to doctors, and motion sensors that alert family members in the event of irregular activity. As a benefit of putting these technologies in place, much more data will become available for research than is open to scientists today.

“We will be able to mine the data, which can help lead to better management and possible curing of many of today’s illnesses,” Pedigo says, “The drawback is certainly the intrusiveness of all aspects of our daily lives recorded as data.”

Natural User Interface
I think that very soon, some people will be able to walk into a room and say ‘lights on’ and the lights will turn on,” Pedigo says. “You will be able to walk up to your curtains and spread your hands open, and your curtains will open up for you.”

Natural user interface technologies rely on human actions to complete tasks. Microsoft Kinect, the Nintendo Wii game system, Apple’s digital assistant Siri and Google’s user-activated Glass are early versions of this technology already in place. “What you’ll see is those kinds of applications transferred over to controlling your house,” Pedigo says.

Watching television will soon become a more personalized experience. Televisions will begin to use facial recognition cameras and based on previous interactions, make suggestions about what the viewer is most likely to enjoy.

“The television will know what you like, so to speak, and as a result the program guide that comes up will be based off of your personal preferences,” Pedigo says “The drawback is that advertisements that you see on your TV will be specifically targeted to you and your likes and dislikes.”

Ultra-High-Definition & Transparent Televisions
“In the last decade we’ve gone from analog to digital, from digital to high-definition,” Pedigo says. “The big trend from television manufacturers right now is the ultra-high-definition televisions.” Ultra-high-definition televisions have four times as many pixels and the potential for better color saturation than the high-definition televisions that dominate the market today. Over the next year, “we’re going to have better TVs, they’re going to continue to get thinner and consume less power and be larger,” Pedigo says.

Televisions are not only getting larger, but they might also be see-through soon. Transparent televisions will make it possible to transform and manipulate the visual landscape of your living spaces. Pedigo says.

“There will probably be a little camera on the other side of it, so it will record the weather and those sorts of things, so if yesterday was beautiful and today not so much, you’ll just hit the yesterday button and you won’t have to look at it pouring outside; it will be beautiful and sunny.”