Google just paid $3.2 billion for this.
It's a thermostat. It sits on your wall. It was produced by a company called Nest that has only been around for two years.
Has Google gone nuts? What's so special about a new company that it's worth all that money?
What's all the fuss about home automation?
Nest and its thermostat are part of what is being described as a revolution - a revolution in home automation. It's a revolution that's expected to worth about $10 billion in sales by 2017.
The revolution has been sparked by two key technologies:
1. The smart phone revolution, which enables you to monitor and control pretty much everything in your home remotely from wherever you happen to be, inside or outside your home
2. The artificial intelligence revolution which has enabled smart devices like the Next Learning Thermostat to learn the temperatures you like and program itself, and automatically turn itself down when nobody's home to help you save energy
As you can see from the illustration above, home automation isn't limited to just thermostats.
Why didn't they come up with this years ago?
Old TV shows like The Jetsons predicted many of the innovations that are only just becoming available now. But as we said, the technology to make those innovations happen is fairly recent. It's all part of the Internet of Things, or IoT.
Can I turn my existing home into a smart home?
Many new homes are now being set up as smart homes while they're being built, but because home automation is wireless - thanks to the internet - it's also easy to retrofit devices into your existing home to make it smarter.
But wait, there's more
Smart homes aren't only about home automation. A few years ago, a group of UCLA anthropologists and archaeologists conducted a study of how people live in the United States. The study took 32 middle-class Los Angeles families and tracked how they used their home and where they spent the most time.
The results showed that most of the families time was spent in the kitchen and dining area, followed by the family room and toilet. Surprisingly, the dining, living and porch areas - which occupy more than half the total floor area - were pretty much untouched.
The study demonstrated how inefficient our homes are when it comes to optimal space utilisation.
But what can we do about that?
This is David Friedlander. A few years ago, he and his partner decided they didn't need to live in a big apartment with lots of space they didn't use or need. So he designed this apartment. Yep, this is pretty much all of it. So where are the bedrooms? Where is the dining room?
You're looking at them. Believe it or not, there's even room for another bedroom for David's little boy.
Here's how it works.
David asked the question: What would happen if we approached architecture from a data-centric perspective? What if we started with what we know about how we live, about what matters to us, about what's responsible to the planetâ€”and designed, built and lived accordingly?
The result is a flexible space which adapts to your needs, rather than you having to adapt to it. The GIF below gives you a hint of what David's design is capable of, but if you'd like the full story, go to his Medium article here.
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