What would life be like a decade from now? Here’s an exciting preview to a day in the next-generation smart home
Tired after a hectic day at work, I head home. But before I reach my dwelling, I have to drop by the grocery store to buy some essentials. Does that mean I have to stand in a long queue? Fortunately, no. Using the ‘Light ID’ technology, all I do is simply point my smartphone camera at a desired item in the shopfront. The ‘transparent screen’ technology gives me all the product information I need on the shop window. I buy the item on the spot using my smartphone—it will be delivered to my home in no time. Next, I need to visit a store I don’t know the address of. Again, using the Light ID technology, I point my smartphone camera at a digital signage to get directions to the store.
My shopping done, I reach home to find ‘Akari’ waiting for me. Akari (meaning light or glimmer in Japanese) is not a real-life person, but an artificial intelligence (AI) partner who manages everything in my home with the help of the Internet of Things. Akari uses facial recognition to validate a person entering my home. If an unknown person tries to gain entry, the automatic doors just won’t open. Akari, an AI system developed by Panasonic, not only ensures that my home stays safe, it also cleans it of any potential bacteria or pathogens. As soon as I enter, a gush of wind through the overhead air shower cleanses me of any external pollutants. The AI system also uses virus sensors to detect polluted air both inside and outside the house.
With the help of smart sensors, the AI partner can indicate the estimated time when other family members are expected home. Like the Weasley clock in Harry Potter, Akari can tell the current location of all my family members.
Oh, but wait, my shopping is here. With the help of locker-style delivery boxes at my home’s entrance, my shopping can be delivered without the need for anyone to be there. Everything looks in good shape and I get down to making dinner. The integration of a refrigerator with the entrance locker makes food storage easy. For instance, the strawberries I ordered are absolutely fresh. The delivery boxes are set to appropriate temperatures, which makes sure that chilled or frozen items stay fresh.
I decide to put the strawberries to good use and bake a surprise cake for the family. The problem is, I know nothing about baking. But I know Akari will save the day. I place the strawberries on the futuristic kitchen counter. Using the voice-interaction system, my AI partner gives me recommendations and recipes for baking the cake and also ensures that the quantities used are correct. Akari does that by simply recording the weight of the items placed on the counter.
If I need fresh veggies to make more dishes, I don’t need to head out to a store again. I can simply pick out some vegetables from the smart garden right behind the counter. This compact garden lets me grow flowers and fruits with the help of LED lights.
As dinner gets prepared, I feel like having a cup of tea. So I put a kettle on the counter and order it to start boiling water for my tea. As it boils, my family returns home and they decide to unwind in the living room. I prefer reading and Akari ensures that my reading time is seamless. When I place my book on a table, the AI assistant sets an individual reading spotlight on the book. If I move the book, the light follows.
Soon, it’s time to call it a day. I head to my bedroom, where Akari helps me unwind and de-stress. The moment I lie down on the bed, room lights are adjusted to a comfortable level. I can even see the night sky, full of stars, on the ceiling. As I sleep, the AI partner uses sensors in the bed and across the room to monitor my sleeping conditions and vital stats—body mass index, heartbeat, blood pressure and so on. By doing so, Akari calculates the best possible way to wake me up the next morning. It could be with the help of the soothing sound of chirping birds or by adjusting the lighting to warm sunlight.
When I wake up, Akari tells me the weather outside, so that I am well-prepared when I step outside. The first thing I do is get in front of the mirror where a smiling Akari greets me. The AI partner uses smart sensors to analyse my face and interpret my mood. It gives me suggestions on facial hair variations on the smart digital mirror. For women, Akari suggests different make-up options. I hate wasting time, so I simply tap on the mirror to see my outfit options. The mirror gives me options for some looks, complete with accessories. I pick the one I like best and prepare to leave.
But even before I leave, I can’t wait to get back home.
* The piece is based on a
visit to the ‘Wonder Life-Box’ exhibit area at the Panasonic Center in Tokyo, Japan. It’s a reflection of ‘A Better Life, A Better World’, a motto conceived by Panasonic.
The writer was in Japan at the invitation of Panasonic