For the past two years, Microsoft researchers have been hard at work creating a new operating system. No, it’s not Windows 8, or at least that’s not what these individuals have been focused on. Unlike previous systems designed as interfaces for computers, smartphones, or other devices, the aptly titled HomeOS will provide a method by which users can operate their households. The ultimate goal of this project is to allow any number of electronics and appliances in a home to be remotely controlled through a single device (a smartphone or tablet, for example) and one unified interface.
Should the project succeed—which early testing shows it has every chance of doing—security cameras could be watched from outside the home, the thermostat could be raised or lowered from the comfort of your own bed, and you won’t have to worry about whether you left a light on since you will be able to check what’s powered up and shut it off remotely. Parents will be happy to know this new tech will have time-based controls, allowing them to prevent their children from watching television or playing video games after bedtime.
According to Microsoft, much of the hardware required to make these tasks possible is already available on the market at a relatively low price. Wireless cameras, locks, and light switches can all be found for under $100 apiece; what makes them impractical is a lack of interconnectivity. Even though the capacity to monitor or operate many household devices currently exists, trying to do so through a solitary streamlined process becomes prohibitively expensive and complicated. This is what HomeOS seeks to overcome--in running every connected appliance and electronic through a single PC-like hub, this innovative operating system will give users an ease of use and degree of control presently lacking from independent tools.
While Microsoft has been testing HomeOS in 12 real homes for the past 4-8 months, South Korean electronics giant, LG, is gearing up to release its first generation of truly smart appliances. These WiFi-enabled machines will build upon pre-existing Smart Diagnostic technology (a function through which appliances can determine the source of malfunctions or other issues and report it to a technician) to help owners handle housework in more convenient and energy efficient ways.
Under the banner of LG’s new ThinQ programs, household appliances will help owners monitor and control their products from afar. For refrigerators, this means being able to keep track of what’s inside the unit, when that food is set to expire, what should be on the next grocery list, and even which recipes can be used with the ingredients on hand. Washers and dryers, like fridges, will allow users to keep an eye on them with LG’s Smart Access apps. Remaining time on a cycle can be viewed from anywhere, and smartphones will be able to change cycles from outside the laundry room. Smart Grid functionality will even allow the machines to run during off-peak hours, saving even more money than the already efficient laundry pairs would in running when energy companies charge their highest rates.
With LG set to introduce their new Smart Appliances this year and Microsoft hard at work on its HomeOS, it won’t be long before our houses begin to join the world of smart, Internet-connected technology. Why not discuss how you might use these new gadgets in your own home on the Long Island Lounge?