The Perfect Morning: How I Turned My Apartment Into A “Jetsons-esque” Utopia

The Perfect Morning: How I Turned My Apartment Into A “Jetsons-esque” Utopia

It’s Thursday. It’s 7am. Alexa is telling me to get out of bed. My bedroom lights are turning on, my blinds are rising, my shower is starting, the apartment is warming up, my coffee is beginning to brew, and my TV is turning on to the news. It’s a new, fresh day and my morning has started without me even having to lift a finger. The future is here, and damn does it feel good.

Here, let me set the mood for you below:

(oh, how appropriate — Jetson’s theme song)

Sure, there are no flying cars or jetpacks, but IoT has changed the game on how our growing collection of smart devices communicate with each other. The Jetsons got it right. The famous Hanna-Barbera cartoon painted a landscape of seemingly impossible devices meant to handle our everyday tasks, such as walking. The Jetsons had everything from video-calls to automated vacuums to robot assistants. Half a century later, the real world has begun to make these works of fiction into a reality that has made a major impact on how we interact with the home.

For most people, we’re introduced to IoT through a smart assistant like Alexa or Siri or Google Assistant. Complex AIs with voice-recognition and the ability to work like a brain for the rest of the home. Smart assistants are good standalone devices for parlor tricks and parties. You can ask Alexa to play games, ask Google to set a reminder, or ask Siri to play music. Alone, smart assistants can handle simple stuff. But if you’re like me, the novelty wears off quickly. Unless… you’re also like me and see smart assistants as the starting point of a very expensive and cool hobby.

About a year ago, I was given an Echo Dot as a holiday gift. I had heard about IoT and smart homes before, but had no real interest in any of it until I was given this little hockey-puck of joy. But I quickly learned after a couple of weeks that just having it sit on the desk in my room wasn’t enough. So I went out and bought two smart light bulbs and a smart outlet. Now I could tell Alexa when I was home or leaving, and she would turn the lights on or off. But why stop there? I set up some colorful scenes, mixing magenta and blue lights to make my room feel like the inside of a cotton candy machine. A couple more months go by, and I find myself in possession of a smart coffee maker and a second Echo, so I can listen to the same music in my bedroom and in my bathroom. This second addition also meant the neighbors were subjected to my terrible shower-singing. By the time my girlfriend and I decided to move in together, the apartment was basically powered by Alexa. It was especially entertaining to see her eyes roll when I asked Alexa to “get it on”: promoting one light to turn pink, the other to turn blue, both to dim down, and a Barry White radio station to start playing.

And today my morning started at 7am, with Alexa telling me to get up. This is the future. Why is this so exciting? Why are more and more people drawn into IoT the same was I was? Honestly, the current state of IoT is, in the grand scheme of things, pretty small and limited. Sure, you can have your car communicate with your garage, or your doorbell communicate with your refrigerator. It’s enough to make you say, “Oh hey that’s neat!” And since it’s conception in the early 80’s as a way to check if a Coca Cola machine was well-stocked, we’re just now transitioning into the third generation of IoT, beyond the simple question/answer functions of the second generation and eons beyond the if/yes/no booleans of the rudimentary first generation.

With Siri’s introduction in 2010 and Alexa’s debut with the Echo in 2014, we have really only seen an increase of the possibilities in the last few years. Major companies are jumping on board to make their full suite of appliances “smart”, able to connect to the rest of the home. What this paints for the future is exciting. Like all things, IoT will evolve. The smart home of today might look like the movie Smart House tomorrow. It’s a playground of innovation and something I recommend everyone pay attention to.

Now that the playing field is established, the ethics behind how IoT relays data will be the hot topic over the next couple of years. Questions will shift away from “why do I need this?” to “can this be trusted?”. For example, technologies like blockchain, which has the potential to make a safer, peer-to-peer network, can help prevent a stranger from taking control of your front door. Despite its rapid growth in the age of the Internet, IoT still has a lot of hurdles to jump over before we can fully embrace it without worry, instead of tolerating it and using it to perform simple tasks. Ten years from now (or even five years from now), I hope to rewrite this article and expand beyond just my apartment morning routine. Perhaps by that time, we might actually have flying cars and jetpacks.

Joe Staples is a freelance writer, currently living in Reno, NV and packing his bags to move to Brooklyn, NY in August.

Currently he’s annoying his girlfriend and cat by window shopping for smart bulbs and maybe a new Alexa-enabled soundbar.

You can find him on twitter and instagram @joeisastaple or via email at joeisastaple@gmail.com.

The Perfect Morning: How I Turned My Apartment Into A “Jetsons-esque” Utopia

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