Intelligent Domesticity: Smart Home of the 50s
Digitization raises concerns: How will our daily life change? How will smart home support us in future? How does our social life change when our walls become screens? What price will we pay as transparent citizens?
The Smart Home is invisible
The internet of things and especially the intelligent home we can experience in the near future. With all big dreams and expectations around ambient intelligence, I find it amusing that the smart houses at first glance come along pretty ordinary. Futuristic technology is hidden, embedded in everyday objects such as chairs, walls or refrigerators. Sensors in doors and floors measure how hastily we walk down the hallway or how vigorously we close the door. Our household appliances are connected and respond to voice and gestures. We can not see that, even TV devices and computers disappear from the tables and are integrated into the living room. So our home seems like a familiar surrounding, almost old-fashioned.
This fits the impression the marketers seem to create for smart homes and smart materials, while playing with traditional role models.
New home with old role models
Sarah Kember, Professor of New Communication Technology at the Goldsmiths University of London, has investigated advertising videos and found Janet in a Microsoft video for Smart Home: the young woman bakes bread in the kitchen on a stylish workbench while the kitchen wall reminds her to take her medicine. Next door, her husband sits relaxed with his legs on the table and listens to music while the teenager son speaks with a virtual wallpaper in his room.
Is this a lack of imagination or a symbolic return to the values of the 50s, like a safe haven in the uncertain future? The housewife and mother seems familiar, now coordinating an efficient schedule, quickly programming the artificial intelligence at home to optimize family nutrition and health. Hurray, digitized domesticity!