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From smart glasses to smart shoes, smart technology has become a regular part of the world’s ongoings. Coined in 1960 to define the remote controlling capabilities of remote controls, the prefix “smart” is justifying itself by indicating capabilities like over-the-net wireless connectivity, computing and decision-making. It has been a long journey and has taken huge efforts to get the ball rolling.

Timeline of the evolution of smart products

Early to Mid-1900s

Although the devices invented in this period aren’t considered “smart” by today’s standards, they got the ball rolling for appliances that could help automate and simplify previously laborious tasks. For example, the invention of washing machines removed the need for the long process of cleaning clothes by hand.

A wide variety of goods driven by engines and electricity were introduced during the industrial revolution. This includes the invention of the first vacuum cleaner in 1901, followed by other revolutionary inventions like the refrigerator, electric dishwasher, toaster, and irons.

The 1950s

The Push-Button Manor smart home was described in a Popular Mechanics article from December 1950. This six-bedroom smart home was built by inventor Emil Mathias and was packed with buttons (switches) that controlled almost everything in the house using a huge network of switches, motors, and relays connected via 7,000 ft (2,133 metres) of wiring.

Zenith Radio Corporation created the first remote control for a television, dubbed “Lazy Bones,” in 1950 — a cord linked the remote to the television. Then in 1955, Eugene Polley invented the “Flashmatic” wireless remote control. In 1959, Joel Spira of Lutron Electronics developed a dimmer switch that was useful for residential use.

The 1960s

The first true home automation system ever made was the ECHO IV, also known as the “Electronic Computing Home Operator.” Although it was never offered for sale commercially, this gadget included temperature and appliance control capabilities. Additionally, it could transmit messages and save and retrieve family documents like grocery lists and recipes.

The first touchscreen was created in England in 1965. A unique input/output device for computers was how the invention was characterised in the inventor’s initial paper. As a result, computers are now capable of detecting changes in electric charge with just the touch of a finger. Imagine a smart house without touchscreens, let alone smartphones running every gadget.

The Honeywell Kitchen Computer was then unveiled to the public in the latter half of the 1960s. This device was based on a Honeywell Series 16 minicomputer and could save recipes and aid in organising bookkeeping activities. The Kitchen Computer, nevertheless, was never purchased due to its bulkiness (more than 100 pounds) and high cost of over $10,000. Moreover, a typical individual would also have needed to attend a two-week programming course to learn how to use the equipment.

The 1970s

The X10 industry standard, which allows residential appliances to communicate across electricity lines, was introduced in 1975. The technology underlying home plugs, which provide ethernet internet functionality through electricity, is quite similar to the X10 system. This important innovation paved the way for items like Radio Shack’s “Plug ‘n Power” gadgets and Sears’ “Home Control System.” Both make it possible for early adopters to remotely operate gadgets in their houses using a command interface and modules.

The 1980s

The 1980s saw the widespread use of home automation. People started buying more and more gadgets, including automated garage door openers, home security systems, motion sensor lighting, and other things. Home computers and colour TVs also gained traction in this period. Even though many gadgets were still cable-dependent and unable to speak with one another, the decade was exciting because it brought more contemporary inventions into the homes of many people.Then, in the late 1980s, “gerontechnology” became known to the world. This idea developed into a significant area of research and development focused on utilising technology to improve the lives of seniors while at home. Seniors could purchase remote items that, with the push of a button, would alert a central contact point if they fell at home, one of the first major home uses of smart technology.

The 1990s

One of Electrolux’s early prototypes of the Trilobite vacuum was featured on the BBC’s Tomorrow’s World science show in 1997. Also in 1997, WiFi — more particularly, the 802.11 wireless standards — was created, eliminating the need to extend wires throughout structures. This marked a crucial turning point for smart homes.

The 2000s to Present

Approximately 20 years ago, as the use of the internet and mobile phones (later referred to as “smartphones”), increased, a variety of smart technology items started to appear on store shelves, with popular devices focusing on networking and home automation. The simplicity of managing everything through an app increased demand over time. As a result, internet marketplaces like Google Play were established, enabling quick and simple software downloads for controlling smart devices. A variety of technology, including speakers, sensors, and smart thermostats have been quickly incorporated into our houses.

2000 was the year when LG introduced the first connected fridge which, along with the introduction of multi-device support in home networking, paved the way for connected devices like Fitbit (2007), environmentally friendly washers and dryers (2007), Wink Technologies (2014), Amazon Echo (2015), etc. In 2019, big tech players like Google, Amazon, Apple, Samsung, etc. created the CHIP standard.

The three major focuses of today’s smart homes appear to be convenience, safety, and living more sustainably. Having the capacity to automate heating, schedule appliances, and manage security systems from a distance are a few examples. These things enable us to save money, protect the environment, and ultimately feel more at home in our surroundings.

The Future of Smart Products

The most cutting-edge houses, according to many experts, will be able to learn about their occupants’ requirements and even predict them as artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML) grow more sophisticated. This capability will include the ability to respond without being prompted or instructed. Smart homes will collect, examine, and act on valuable data in the interim. They’ll offer important information on how we use our devices and our general health and well-being.

It’s difficult to predict precisely what “smart homes” will look like in the future, but it’s reasonable to assume that they won’t only be about possessing amazing gadgets and technologies. Instead, our houses will be producing invaluable information and life-altering conveniences to aid magnify and better our lives than ever before!

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