Next time you answer the door, it might be Apple or Google calling.
The world’s two biggest’s technology companies are taking their battle for consumers’ hearts and minds into their homes.
The target: a smart home market potentially worth US$71 billion by 2018. This year, at US$41 billion, it’s more than halfway through.
Apple is prepping its flagship iPhones and iPads to support an operating system for smart homes, so is Google with its Android platform and devices.
The technology allows users to remotely control everything from music to temperature, lighting and cooking — an entire ecosystem of household devices that communicate with each other, giving a new meaning to artificial intelligence.
The system can be activated with voice command or by a tap on an app on a mobile device and can be programmed to turn on or off at certain times.
That means your living room will be cool by the time you get home and your dinner might be ready (who knows?).
This scenario moved a step closer to reality after Apple won a patent for a program that allows a user to trigger lighting and a host of household systems by remote control.
Reports say the iPhone gets pride of place in Apple’s smart home operating system as a kind of command center. Already, the Cupertino, California behemoth wants accessory makers to certify that their products are suitable for use in a smart home.
Also, Apple is expected to partner with hardware companies to ensure future devices are compatible with the new operating system.
It’s moving beyond Apple’s vision of the smart home by experimenting with display technology.
It wants to be able to display advertisements and announcements on refrigerators, walls and thermostats, the way it feeds information into car dashboards and Google Glass.
There is one problem. Experts warn that the smart devices could be broadcasting sensitive information from your home, making Edward Snowden’s haul of US spying secrets look like yesterday’s trash.
There’s no telling where or how this contest will end but it looks like we will be sharing our living space with the internet-era iteration of Big Brother.
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