Smart Home Tech: An Accessible Gimmick?

Kanchi Vasavada

By : Kanchi Vasavada

Smart Home Tech: An Accessible Gimmick?1

Another week of talking about some smart home gadgets can’t hurt, right? I mean we have been stuck at home for over 10 months now and we really like some gadgets around here.

Last week we wrote about smart home gadgets that were concepts but this week, they are probably in your house. 

Amazon’s digital assistant, Alexa, lives on a myriad of devices from very cheap little pieces like plugs, to expensive display devices that can rotate on their own. Talking about devices that can rotate on their own, the Echo Show 10 is finally coming out in February. Notorious for listening to you when it shouldn’t, this Alexa device smartly follows you without using the camera. 

The motorized display follows you to keep you in the frame so that you can always see the information that you ask for or need. 

While this gadget is pretty snazzy, Amazon is giving the smarts (on top of it already being smart) to Alexa. It can now act on its Hunches. This is to say that they can now turn off that light you always forget about without asking you. You know, so the demon of the dark doesn’t catch you as you turn the lights off on the way to your bedroom. 

Of course, there is more than just the cool factor to this. Hunches learn through your patterns. When you turn off a certain light or change your thermostat settings at a certain time every day, Alexa can learn that and then perform those actions without repeated input from you. This also helps you save energy in the long run. Not only is that true because of predictive analysis, but Amazon is also rolling out an energy dashboard that shows how much energy your devices have saved. Of course, this is true for compatible devices, from plugs to TVs and more. 

While these may seem like much smaller things compared to what we were talking about last week, the goal of a smart home is ambient computing. The technology disappears while being more efficient than yesterday. Digital assistants, connected homes are often swept under the “no one actually needs it” rug. But that thought comes from the privilege of always being able to do your tasks, but these inventions often come from human being’s need to do more. And our desire to push our abilities. 

The development of computing is not unselfish, but neither is it malicious. The digital assistant that can turn off the right light at the right time today, will one day amount to saving the planet. This kind of technology is why I strongly believe technology becomes an equalizer. It aims to eliminate daily commonplace hurdles that I may not face but someone else might. 

The gimmick of telling Alexa to show who is at your front door has the potential to one day secure you from an attack. 

Even though the idea sold to us of these gadgets is simple and intuitive, figuring out which gadgets you need or want is still nightmarish. Not to mention the regular costs of subscriptions and data privacy.

That’s the next challenge!

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