Thanks to the Internet of Things, I could live in my very own tech-mediated Downton Abbey. But could I trust it not to betray me?
By Kashmir and cross-posted from Gizmodo.com
In December, I converted my one-bedroom apartment in San Francisco into a “smart home.” I connected as many of my appliances and belongings as I could to the internet: an Amazon Echo, my lights, my coffee maker, my baby monitor, my kid’s toys, my vacuum, my TV, my toothbrush, a photo frame, a sex toy, and even my bed.
“Our bed?” asked my husband, aghast. “What can it tell us?”
“Our breathing rate, heart rate, how often we toss and turn, and then it will give us a sleep report each morning,” I explained.
“Sounds creepy,” he said, as he plopped down on that bed, not bothered enough to relax instead on our non-internet-connected couch.
I soon discovered that the only thing worse than getting a bad night’s sleep is to subsequently get a report from my bed telling me I got a low score and “missed my sleep goal.” Thanks, smart bed, but I know that already. I feel like shit.
Why? Why would I do this? For convenience? Perhaps. It was appealing to imagine living like the Beast in the Disney movie, with animated objects around my home taking care of my every need and occasionally serenading me. As a result of the apartment upgrade, I could watch what was happening in the house when we weren’t there. I could use voice commands to turn on the lights, coffee maker, and music. I could exchange voice messages with our toddler (and her caregiver) through a toy. I got reminders from my toothbrush to brush and tips on how best to do it. If I got cold in the night, my bed could warm me up. And I no longer had to push a vacuum around the house, instead activating a robot to do it for me with a press of a smartphone button.
Thanks to the Internet of Things, I could live in my very own tech-mediated Downton Abbey. That’s the appeal of smart homes for most people, and why they are supposed to be a $27 billion market by 2021. But that wasn’t my primary motivation. The reason I smartened up my house was to find out whether it would betray me…