This is an article that is a compilation and editorial of the Smart Home Sense Hub. What we will review is the various promises and the impact of this on the home market and consumer. This is not a product review, per se, but an overview of the consumer market as it moves into the wireless digital age.
Over the course of the last couple of years, smartphone applications have promised us that we would lead more free lives, able to quickly integrate with the world around us. Nest Thermostat and Phillips Hue offer us brief glimpses of a future, not unlike Eldon Tyrell in Blade Runner, who is capable of dimming the sun’s effect through the windows in his home, truly a master of his environment.
Eldon gives voice commands to the console in his abode. You and me are there, staring impotently at our glass screens of our smartphone, impotently waiting for updates, waiting to tap impatiently and get everything just right. With every new application that you have to download, there’s the cost of pre-integration with the rest of the world. If your smartphone is in the other room, you stomp down the hall to retrieve it.
What you get with sense is a mid-size console. It has a hex-core CPU, it connects to your wireless system. From there, the promise is ‘no more tapping.’ From that console, it dictates the connected items through the home. One can potentially, seamlessly integrate the desires of all involved parties. Imagine running your heating, lighting, music, and other necessary items from one location in the home, like a recliner or couch. Administration agents are allowed to adjust various environmental controls through hand gestures and swipes, looking like a mime.
The system offers a security application, offering the administrator to okay permits for interior access through the monitored areas. The possibilities for parents of young children are amazing, suddenly the entire home can be dictated through either the smartphone or other means. It operates with facial-recognition software, offering it’s taskmaster the ease of use that Phillip K. Dick and Jose Farmer offered glimpses of, long ago.
Simple tasks, like setting up music in the kids room to play at alarm times, or to go into a ‘sleep mode’ with Old Blue Eyes, is effortless. Keying the coffeemaker to begin it’s task and have a percolation. The organic nature of the Silk keeps us from staring into the smartphone screens, and Silk Labs CEO Andrea Gal states on their Kickstarter page this. “Real experiences are missing from the connected products we have now. Silk will make those devices more responsive, more human.”
It is late-February as this is written. The FBI and Apple are circling one another, one demanding a backdoor for it’s exclusive needs, ‘for justice’, the other claiming the needs of the individual must be kept above the collective. The heart of the argument is age-old, the MacGuffin would be the smartphone in the San Bernardino shooting, owned by the terrorist that murdered many with his significant other.
Allowing ourselves to try to wire, or connect everything in our lives to a Wi-Fi router, the problem of hacking from exterior sources is tantamount. Municipalities in the nation have already forced smart thermostats on residents, not allowing cooling or heating to previous usual levels, in the name of the collective Green Movement. If government wants to spy on your child’s crib, observing your monitoring of your own child, your temperature settings, if you drink or smoke on the same block where your child lays their head at night, what is to stop them from prosecuting you? They already have a backdoor into your home.
This level of intrusion into our daily lives, is unnecessary. If one wants to have his home routed through whatever his device desires or pay for having a thermostat set at sixty degrees year-round, it is their business, if they can afford to pay for it.
It is time that home conveniences do bring back a sense of humanity in it’s direction. Is the Sense what one needs? Do you want to be handcuffed to a chair or location in this first generation of phone-less environmental deity stature? Or do you applaud the efforts of Silk Labs, and wait for a more freeform, freedom-inducing system for homes, one with multiple sensors through the home? And lastly, the home being a castle, should be a bastion of privacy for every man, not for the privileged few.