Smart Appliances: The Flintstones and the Jetsons may be cartoons, but their depiction of everyday life may be more accurate than previously thought. With new technological innovations every year, the world before smart devices seems as archaic as the Flintstones family itself. People from the beginning of the 20th century would not believe the advancements that have been made in the world today. The rapid, global market constantly demands more efficient and productive technology. In addition to portable knowledge like the laptop and cellphone, smart technology allows a person to be in complete control for an intuitive, effortless and, as the name suggests, smart experience. The devices of today constitute those of yesterday in an industry as fast as light.
Smart technology’s history goes back to a time not so long ago. IBM produced the first smart phone in 1992. Named Simon, it resembled a car phone from the 1980s and cost too much for individual use. At $900, it featured a touch screen for calls, voice dialing, and fax capabilities. The first iPhone wouldn’t hit markets until 14 years later. Palm Pilots, Blackberry, and Nokia all followed with variations of IBM’s Simon, bringing new technologies to the table. These early devices centered on providing convenience. People wanted portable devices that granted access to information and knowledge anywhere at any time. The fast-paced lifestyles of the business world demands immediate information and knowledge, making speed a key ingredient to success in the industry. Consumers also wanted a comprehensive device with multifunction capabilities. However, the lightning speed at which people maintain their work and personal lives demanded faster and smarter technologies. For example, the advent of the 3G smart phone was quickly eclipsed by promises of 4G speeds. If devices fail, it is because they cannot keep up with the ever-changing technology market. In addition, the abundance of smart devices puts forth the need for compatible smart devices that can be controlled remotely. The porous borders of the global community require fast and accessible information and knowledge, regardless of a user’s location.
The newest innovations in smart technology consist not of high-tech devices that are rarely used, but of improvements to everyday appliances. New York University’s Computer Science Department has a site devoted to smart refrigerators where they explain the advantages newer smart models will offer. For example, how many people have been convinced they had something in the fridge, only to be unable to find it later? Smart refrigerators will make it easier to know exactly what food and drinks are lurking in the back shelves. With a display, users can track what food is in the fridge and which are running low. The special smart technology allows the fridge to be able to identify the fridge’s contents. For random items purchased at a fruit stand, for example, a list of categorized products allows a person to quickly enter the items being put into the fridge. After these items are entered, the smart refrigerator can then use that information along with additional features to warn someone when an item is almost depleted or completely depleted. The smart fridge will also provide recipe suggestions with a click of a tab. Expiration dates can be easily remembered as the fridge lets you know which items will soon go bad.
Similar apparatus include smart ovens that detect food temperatures, manually adjust heat, and even turn off so as to prevent burning. Investing in this sort of device ensures tastier meals and prevents wasting food. Emerging smart technologies not only complete tasks for consumers, they also allow them to have complete control remotely. These smart devices truly re-define the idea of multitasking. Other smart technology in the process of being developed seeks to incorporate the highest standards of efficiency. Both frugal and “green” people will gain from new gadgets that help out with costly electric bills while conserving energy. Being home won’t be necessary since equipment can be controlled remotely through smart phones. Examples include learning thermostats, smart washers and dryers, and connected lighting fixtures. Philips has put out new LED smart bulbs. Controlled with Apple products, the bulbs can change in color and intensity. Current products that may be in most households in the near future thus rely on convenience, practicality, cost-efficiency and eco-friendly standards.
The future promises even more radical changes to appliances and devices. While smart technology certainly makes work easier and thus allows for more productivity, computers’ downfall lies in their inability to reproduce the creative side of the human mind. Timothy Mack of the World Future Society ponders the educational aspect of having to think through complex problems. Through collaboration, people expand previous ideas and gain the inspiration to map out creative solutions. How about smart technology that helps people to branch out and find the creative juices needed to think outside of the box? In addition to collaboration, assessing past strategies allows for planning and preparing for the future.
Smart devices can act as a personal planner, but do they afford the same foresight that results from analyzing processes in complex ways and true forethought? In other words, consumers would love to see the ways in which smart technology and smart appliances can have predictive abilities, mimicking the expertise of a seasoned worker. These capabilities turn around the need for that which often opposes science: emotion. Will it be the downfall of humans or the spark for ingeniousness? Science fiction movies that portray the coming times as controlled by rebellious robots reflect people’s innate love and hate of technology. While smart appliances greatly improve life in terms of money, efficiency and productivity, consumers and workers want to ensure that they can control technology, no matter where they are in this borderless world. While the past and current smart trends have proven to greatly help in transmitting knowledge and connecting people on a global scale, consumers are now beginning to seek future technology closer to home. The competitive market will need to compete to incorporate the reflection and emotion of the heart and brain that keeps humans above technology.