What if your appliances were watching you? Not in a sinister, robot uprising kind of way, but in a helpful, smoothing-over-the-rough-edges-of-daily-life kind of way? What if they were watching for no other reason than to find ways to intervene and make your life easier, less stressful and more joyful?
Artificial intelligence, the technology that harnesses the power of machine learning to tackle all kinds of everyday tasks is already changing the way we work, shop, bank and drive.
It has brought us technologies that handle mundane, repetitive jobs for workers, detect fraudulent financial transactions and allowing self-driving cars to make decisions. But how can AI change the way we manage everyday life in our own homes?
We’ve already begun the shift towards handing over some responsibilities to intelligent technologies by embracing Alexa and many other IoT conveniences.
If we forget to lock our cars, we can fix the mistake quickly and lock it remotely. If we forget to lock our front doors or set the DVR to record a favorite show, we can take care of that remotely too.
The next step in AI technologies will enhance their usefulness and practicality, and, in much the same way they take over time-consuming, mindless daily tasks in the workplace, they will begin to take some of that drudgery off our hands at home.
Ahead are just a few scenarios that explore the awesome possibilities of intelligent technologies in our homes that can see what we need and pitch in to help us out in ways great and small.
Effortless Grocery Shopping
The carton of almond milk in your refrigerator is almost empty and there is only one more in the pantry. Your intelligent fridge of the near future has a camera that can see that the supply of almond milk is dwindling or that the carton has been permanently removed from the fridge, and understands what this means for you.
The fridge and pantry—which also has an intelligent camera—have a tête-à-tête, exchanging information about the status of your almond milk supply. Realizing that you are about to run out of this essential, the two food storage systems send you a text asking if you would like to add it to your shopping list. You say yes and it is done. Ah, the magic of object recognition.
To keep your shopping list up-to-date, your refrigerator coordinates information with shelving and storage units in the laundry room, bathroom, garage and anywhere else where there are items stored that need to be kept continuously in stock. When it’s time to do the actual “shopping,” all you have to do is check the list, add anything you feel is missing and place the order.
In the same way your refrigerator and pantry perform regular status checks, your linen closet and underwear drawer are ever vigilant as well. Low on clean towels or under things? Your closet or drawer will let you know it’s time to wash some towels or delicates.
Daily Chores With a Lot of Help From Your Appliances
Here are a couple of examples of mundane situations that come up for someone, somewhere every day. They aren’t overly important or stressful each on their own, but add too many of these little annoyances on top of long workdays, family and other responsibilities, and they start to feel substantially weighty.
Ever accidentally washed something with a spot on it that you didn’t notice? That spot will ruin your (former) go-to white shirt. Imagine having a washing machine that can tell you, thanks to anomaly detection, when you’ve missed a stain on a favorite item of clothing, saying something to you like “There is a mustard stain on your gray sweatshirt. Would you like to pre-treat?”
Never again would you forget that you dropped a buffalo wing on your favorite pair of skinny jeans and then thoughtlessly run them through the wash, immortalizing the stain.
Of course if the stain does not come out, your pants drawer will at least tell you that you need to buy more pants and help you to replace them quickly and conveniently, by saying something to you like “You are down one pair of size 8 Madewell Perfect Vintage jeans. Would you like to reorder?” It will know that they aren’t just out for a wash after a certain predetermined period of time has passed.
No Ideas for Dinner
If it’s almost time to do the shopping and you don’t have much left in the fridge and pantry. Not to worry, the two can combine efforts and come up with recipe suggestions that use items that you already have on hand. That way you can focus on your afternoon meeting instead of obsessing over what to make for dinner, or dreading that after-work trip to Whole Foods. Or going full carb and ordering pizza.
A Good Night’s Sleep
The air conditioner in your baby’s room is set to keep the room at a certain temperature, but that still doesn’t tell you whether she is too warm or too cold. Intelligent temperature control could “see” perspiration on her forehead or notice that she has kicked her blankets off or that she is tossing and turning a lot, and make the decision to cool the room until she is comfortable.
Conversely, if she is too cold, AI action detection can pick up on visual information like the pulling together of blankets. It could then check the temperature in the room, determine that it is a bit too cold, and make the decision to warm up the room.
The same intelligent temperature control that is especially convenient for babies—who cannot adjust the air conditioner themselves—would also work for mom and dad, sensing that the temperature needs to be adjusted, even before the room gets uncomfortable enough to wake anyone up.
Intelligent Appliances Give Humans the Gift of Time
None of us needs to be reminded of how over-scheduled we are these days.
Intelligent appliances and storage systems can allow busy working parents to spend more time in the mornings and evenings bonding with their kids—and each other—and less time seeing to the million little separate details that go into running a household.
There exist any number of time and effort saving applications for intelligent household technologies. And since time is the thing we are most in need of in this age of constant occupation, AI-driven appliances that ease our burdens to give us back some of our precious, lost time are some of the most life-enhancing technological innovations going.
Written by Emrah Gultekin, Co-Founder and CEO of the Visual AI service, Chooch.