Home automation is nothing new. Hobbyists have been connecting gadgets into their appliances and fixtures for decades. But now, home automation is becoming more accessible to the amateur and a lot more aesthetically-pleasing, in terms of design. Google’s Nest allows people to control their thermostat using their cell phone. Its simple circular design most likely appealed to Google since not all of their designs are as clean.
Belkin’s WeMo allows users to control their lighting and view the cost for using each appliance with a simple phone app. Clearly the concept of ‘quantified self’ (viewing data about yourself to inform future behaviors) is extending to ‘quantified space’.
Years ago researchers at Georgia Tech began the Aware Home initiative began to think abut smarter spaces, specifically for older adults, mainly using sensors. How can we push the boundary beyond simple sensors to track presence or appliance usage, and towards innovative solutions that are easy for people of all ages to use. The added challenge is that older adults may have a higher chance of disability, and no two disabilities are alike. Universal usability, in general, may be as difficult as an NP complete problem. But, universal usability for quantified living spaces sounds feasible.