Time For Bradbury's 'Smart Home'?

How badly do you want a smart home?


(WSJ Tech Columnist Christopher Mims visits SmartThings CEO Alex Hawkinson)

Here's what it's like to wake up in America's smartest home. More precisely, here's what it's like for Alex Hawkinson, CEO of two-year-old smart-home company SmartThings, to wake up in his newly retrofitted suburban Maryland home, in which every single light and power outlet, plus a dozen gadgets, are all connected to and controllable from the Internet.

Mr. Hawkinson stretches. The accelerometer inside the Jawbone UP fitness tracker on his wrist registers movement, and wirelessly communicates it to his iPhone, which passes the signal to home-controlling software in the cloud.

Downstairs, lights come up, illuminating a split-level kitchen and living room. The coffee maker switches on. The thermostat increases the home's ambient temperature by four degrees. The security system is switched off.

By the time Mr. Hawkinson pads into the kitchen, his coffee is ready. When he opens the cabinet in which he keeps coffee mugs, a sensor on its door triggers an Internet-connected speaker by his dining-room table. In a slightly robotic woman's voice, it reads today's weather report to him.

In his 1951 short story collection The Illustrated Man, Ray Bradbury wrote about the Happylife Home:

"They walked down the hall of their soundproofed Happylife Home, which had cost them thirty thousand dollars installed, this house which clothed and fed and rocked them to sleep and played and sang and was good to them." (More)

Mr. Bradbury may have foreshadowed our concern over large corporations seeking to extract value from our every move with his story The Veldt, which described a home with ulterior motives.

From WSJ.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 6/24/2014)

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