Nov 08 AT 3:22 PM Nick Sarafolean 13 Comments

Android could be the key to the smart house of the future

Tony Stark

First of all, we’re curious, so we’re just gonna come right out and ask this. Does anybody remember that ridiculously cheesy movie from (*shudder*) Disney Channel called Smart House? If not, we’ll be glad to fill you in. Smart House was a made-for-TV movie created by Disney Channel in 1999. The premise of the story was that a young teenage boy won a sweepstakes for a computerized home. The home is run by a computer program named PAT. Long story short, the computer program takes control of the house and the teenager has to help save the day.

Right, so the point of the story wasn’t to say that smart houses are a terrible idea and they’re going to take over the world. It was more to present the fact that for many years now, people have dreamed of intelligent, connected houses. Most of you guys have probably dreamed of a smart house at one point or another. And the truth is, we’re getting closer and closer to making that a reality.

Some of you may remember when Samsung showed off its smart window prototype at CES in 2012. While just a prototype then (and for that matter, it still is), the smart window was a tiny glimpse at what some of the features in a smart house could be like. Unfortunately, the smart window wasn’t the most practical implementation in the world. It has potential, but the concept of the smart house needs to be tweaked.

It needs to be intuitive and stay out of the way. Honestly, who’s going to go and use a giant “touchscreen” that’s actually their window? It’s impractical and doesn’t make life easier. Unless you’re the rare person who enjoys using their window as a giant computer that you have to stand at to use.

But say that the house was primarily voice controlled and the windows had the main function of being displays for what you were controlling. They could even be touch responsive. In a situation like that, the concept of a smart window suddenly becomes useful. Almost like something that you’d see in one of Corning’s videos about glass or something.

But the thing that has long been lacking in the idea of a smart house is software that unifies everything and allows it to work together. The problem with a smart house is that one manufacturer would have to construct the hardware and software for the entire thing. Any sort of standardization or open sourcing wasn’t possible.

Until Android.

We’ve all seen how flexible Android can be. It’s used in everything from alarm clocks to desktops to smart phones and hell, evenĀ ovens. It’s really the most flexible operating system out there, because it runs on a Linux core. But one of the things that makes it different from many other Linux products is that Android has been widely adopted and is kept up by Google.

And speaking of Google, wouldn’t they be the perfect company to work on creating a smart house? With all of its resources, there’s no doubt Google could definitely put a good effort into it. Take Google Now, for example. Google Now is practically perfect for a smart house with its easy voice activation and quick response times. If Google continued to improve Google Now and make it even more intelligent, then they could have a real winner on their hands. Imagine being able to control many things in your house simply by speaking. It sounds like something straight out of an Iron Man movie.

So what’s stopping Android from powering smart houses? The problem is that no company has put their weight behind a smart house. And we can see why. Building a smart house would not only be incredibly expensive, but it would also be excruciatingly complex. The logistics of a smart house, especially one that is primarily controlled by voice, are daunting even for the most enthusiastic of engineers.

But if a company turned its efforts towards making a smart house powered by Android, it could work. And if it did work, then we could see a new wave of smart houses in the future. Something that we know many people have long dreamed of.

What do you think? Would you want a smart house? Moreover, do you think that Android could power that smart house? The comments section awaits.

A nerd at heart, Nick is an average person who has a passion for all things electronic. When not spending his time writing about the latest gadgets, Nick enjoys reading, dabbling in photography, and experimenting with anything and everything coffee. Should you wish to know more about him, you can follow him on Twitter @nsarafolean.

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  • Jess Blanchard

  • Jess Blanchard

    JK! I totally want a smart house. I cringed hard when Tony Stark’s house was destroyed. So tragic. That’s the worst part of movies–when technology and/or animals are harmed.

  • tmihai20

    If it is implemented correctly, I would love to live in a smart house.

  • we

    well… I wouldn’t like smart house powered by google with their silly policies… and what? one day google decides that I don’t need doors in my house (google reader) and lock them completely because ef-me? neeh..

  • Jess Blanchard

    I would like to keep the smart technology out of the bathroom and bedroom, I think, tho. Because, y’know. People who live in smart houses get dressed in the dumb basement.

  • Ezc

    Is this what they are working on with the barges in SF bay and Maine?

  • donger

    Would be cool.

  • James

    Uhm, here’s another problem with a smart house just like with my smart phone: the voice command can only recognize one command at a time which can be a huge problem in a house with more then 2 or 3 people who might all be in different rooms and want to do different things. Say, little Jimmy is in his bedroom and wants the smart house to turn off his lights while big Jim is in the basement and wants the smart house to turn on the TV or dreaded they’re both on the TV in different rooms and want the smart house to change channels.

    • This may very well be solvable with multiple (maybe lots) of microphones in the house to filter out background noise + multiple voice detection.

  • jerrbomb

    Great idea

  • rashad360

    I’d urge everyone to watch this video:

    That guy used his android phone in conjunction with Z-wave home automation tech in order to do exactly what this article talks about.

  • EdC

    With the obvious need for widgets this is a non-starter for iOS and Windows Phone.

  • Yomade ibrahim

    With a house like that, what would happen if the person it recognizes as it’s master dies?