AI ready for the future: What would life in 2020 look like?
What would life in 2020 look like? Since the 1990s, people have been obsessed with speculations of how Artificial Intelligence would change the way we live, work and feel. From stories of robots and aliens taking over the world, to fantastical tales of astronomical catastrophes obliterating the planet, to life reminiscent of the popular cartoon series, The Jetsons – human imagination has been boundless, and in some cases, did run amock.
Yet, one unexplored aspect was the transformations that could happen inside our home. Less explored was the idea of technology running our homes for us... innovations that can truly change our everyday lives. Now, engineers at Japan-based Panasonic Corporation have not just imagined, but also given life to some hi-tech devices that can power and manage our homes in the near-future. An era when computer-based personal assistants could don the role of housekeeper, chef, farmer, beautician and even doctor – all rolled into one – draws near!
Picture this for instance: as you sleep comfortably in your bedroom, your heart rate, blood pressure and other basic health indicators are monitored by sensors on the roof of your bed; your mirror acts as your beauty consultant and suggests make-up and outfits based on your planned activities; fresh vegetables of your choice grow under, believe it or not, an LED lamp; all in an apartment which can ‘sense’ the level of air pollution and dust, and clean itself.
These are just a few of the many technological wonders that Panasonic has conceptualised, capable of taking the concept of ‘smart homes’ – a $20 billion industry as per estimates – to new heights. Aptly called the Wonder Life-Box, the concepts use Internet of Technology and Artificial Intelligence to simplify daily chores and household management, minimising the need for human intervention. The Wonder Life-Box is currently an attraction and wonder for those visiting the Panasonic Centre in Tokyo, but could soon become a commercial reality.
“The Wonder Life-Box is a showcase to invite other companies to collaborate on our project,” says Makoto Mihara, who heads Global Communications at Panasonic Corporation. “All ideas and products shown here are possible business models that would provide a new definition of lifestyle to our consumers.” The company aims to put many of these features into commercial production by mid-2020, provided there are partners available to collaborate with.
“We can’t make the new business only by ourselves. If we sell mere products, we cannot contribute to a ‘better life, better world’, which is our motto. To solve social problems, or customers inconveniences, we need to add value and experience from other sectors and industries. The approach is totally different as it’s a B2B market,” says Mihara.
Like self-driven cars, many features that make homes smart are based on the Internet of Things technology, where everyday objects are embedded with little computers and internet connectivity that help them communicate with each other and with humans. This IoT technology is already changing the way we live and interact with everyday objects, and has also deepened the relationship between man and machine. Amazon’s virtual assistant Alexa, for instance, has received over 250,000 marriage proposals from bedazzled customers. While Panasonic is attempting to take the concept to a completely different level.
“The most important aspect of IoT or AI is how we analyse and choose meaningful data from a whole universe of information. For example, we recently announced the launch of a multi-language translation megaphone which can automatically translate Japanese words into English. This was made possible by IoT and will help policemen and tour guides, who only speak Japanese, communicate with an English-speaking audience,” says Mihara. But when will we start seeing these technologies in our homes? Experts say that smart homes features are available as an ‘a la carte’ menu rather than a ‘buffet’ package and many homes already use some form of automation. Many of these features can be customised according to needs and budget.
“The Smart Homes market is fast evolving to suit the Indian context, into newer areas like lighting systems, gas leakage detectors, fire detection systems, energy efficient systems and entertainment gadgets,” says Mihara. Apart from providing enhanced security and comfort, smart homes also provide substantial energy savings, thus being environment-friendly and economical. The acceptance of these concepts is high among urban customers,” he adds. “With Indian metros witnessing an explosion in working couples and upwardly mobile living standards, the demand for smart homes will continue to rise in the coming years.”
Entrance:Facial recognition cameras and IR sensors control the gate. Gates and doors will open automatically to friends and family who have been granted access by the owners
Living Room: Equipped with a smart serving table placed beneath a wine rack. The mirror of the rack also doubles up as an LED display. Pick a bottle of your choice, place it on the table and voila... the LED screen displays the age of the wine, the vineyard from where it came and suitable pairings. The centre table is also smart, rather smarter. Place a hardcopy of a book on the table and a spotlight turns on automatically for your convenience. Tap on the table controls if you want the book to be electronically projected on a massive screen. What more? You can control the screen and content with your gestures.
Kitchen: Refrigerators are built into the wall and also double up as lockers. Sensing the contents, these intelligent devices will automatically adjust their temperature. Kitchen taps will release required amounts of water at desired temperature, based on voice commands. You can grow vegetables in the smart gardens built into the kitchen walls. The garden is automatically watered, and LED lamps replace sunlight in growing vegetables. Pluck a few fresh veggies and place them on the kitchen smart table, it will list out a whole bunch of possible recipes for you.
Bedrooms: The roof of your bed displays your heart rate, blood pressure and other health indicators, which have been monitored through the entire night. Stand in front of your mirror and it will suggest
the beard you can sport or lipstick that will look good on you. It will also suggest the ideal outfit for the day. And you can actually try them all out on the mirror!
Wonder Delica: This is not a part of the smart home offerings, but an innovation for retailers. Bridging the gap between brick and mortar stores and e-commerce, this concept allows people to browse for items sold within a store by not even entering it. Just stand outside the store, open the app and point your phone to the store to find the items inside and their prices. You can then place your order right there and have it delivered to your house. Literally, window shopping!