Your Home Is Now A Consumer Electronic
A few years ago, I wrote about how trends in the automotive industry and the rapidity of change have practically turned our cars into consumer electronics – every few years we give them up for new models because we want all of the new features and functions. I postulated that a few of the trends (towards renting and leasing over buying) are leading me to think that our cars are quickly becoming as replaceable as our smartphones. Who wants a three-year-old tech? We can’t even connect to our smartphones or auto drive our cars with Siri.
One of the main reasons Tesla is so innovative is that the car has become more of a “smartphone on wheels” than a car – they are constantly updating and upgrading the software, just like your iPhone, and giving it new features without you having to buy a new car. Of course, the other automakers are trailing, but they see the light as well. A few years ago, even the massive Consumer Electronics Show understood that automobiles had become consumer electronics and featured them. Since then, cars have become more and more like smartphones on wheels.
What is the next thing which will be “consumer electroniced”. I believe that the next personal divide which is getting that treatment is the home. Not only is the home getting more wired, and connected (with the sprawl of internet of things devices either being embedded directly in new homes, or homes being upgraded with devices to control everything from your music to your oven) your home increasingly becomes closer to a consumer electronic – which will have a default set of hardware, and a layer of software, like an operating system, which controls the hardware, and layers of apps which will sit on the operating system. How many of us have Nest controlling our HVAC, Lifx controlling our lighting, TP-Link controlling our outlets, and Echo controlling everything from our music, TV, schedules and most everything else?
These apps will then allow you to control your home, or even more likely, eventually control your home for you. In this future, the connected home will be fully sensored, so that if anything goes wrong (or is about to go wrong) human workers can be dispatched to the home to immediately resolve issues before they become major problems. Initially, a home operating system might automatically call a plumber when it detects a potential leak, unlock the door for them when the owner isn’t home, let them fix the potential problem, then charge it against your account, all without the homeowner’s intervention. Eventually, tiny drones may be able to be dispatched to perform the repairs from inside the pipe. Your appliances will be smart enough to replenish themselves (your fridge automatically ordering milk when it gets low, and using a home controller “bot” to virtually haggle for the best product at the best price, delivered at the right moment for freshness and utility).
When you walk up to your door, it knows it’s you and automatically unlocks, and a set of “tadaima” (I’m home) events occur – your TV may be turned on and tuned to your favorite channel, a cup of tea may be automatically brewed and waiting for you, and your couch/recliner may be automatically adjusted to your perfect comfort. Since its Tuesday, an order for a “Big Sur” pizza (roasted garlic, pepperoni, sausage, etc) from Pizza My Heart has already been placed, and the fridge made sure to restock itself with your favorite beer earlier that day (the fridge detected the amount, automatically placed an order with Instacart, and let in the delivery guy to restock your fridge, watching them with both outdoor and indoor cameras all the way.) As you settle into the couch and the latest episode of Star Trek: Discovery automatically comes on, the pizza is leaving the store by drone and is being delivered to you. Your home is the next frontier of consumer electronics, rapidly turning into “a smartphone that you live in”.
As with consumer electronics, we will also likely live in these homes for a limited time, preferring to rent and lease places for as little time as we need them. Since both work and life are starting to be geolocation agnostic (you can both live and interact with anyone from anywhere at anytime) will there really be a need for people to live geographically close to work, family, and friends? The original phases of life, education, work, and retirement will all blend into each other, with all of us living wherever we want for as long as we want.
Our homes will have to transform to us, instead of the other way around.
Eventually, even our homes may come with us when we go – is it really so farfetched to imagine the merger of homes and cars, like the GMC PAD. One day soon, we may be able to eliminate the high cost of living in urban areas by living in autonomous interconnectable tiny homes, which drop us off at work (if we don’t already work from them), provide ridesharing services and/or short-term hourly rental office or living space while we are away (thus covering some of their cost on their own), then picking us up at the end of our day.
They drive around while letting us get ready, as it drives us to the restaurant or nightclub in the evening, picking us up afterward (no need for designated drivers) and drive around all night while we sleep (or drives us somewhere to park overnight, away from the high priced city). One day, we may all live and possibly work in these autonomous multipurpose pods, which can help us efficiently and effectively live and work and travel, all at once. Needless to say, these autonomous interconnectable tiny homes will disrupt a number of markets all at once, the real estate market, the automotive market, the ridesharing market, the home sharing market and many other markets which support those markets.
This future is coming, the only question is when. Our homes will become as individual and independent as we are. And that is a good thing.