House of Pane, Life of Ease

by Jack Sommer

A big part of IoT and integration of technology into our homes is not about inventing a lot of completely new products to do so, but rather finding ways to bring them into the objects and hardware we already use. Well, one thing you'll find in most people's homes and apartments is windows. And they may be one of the next steps in making us more connected in how we live.

In an article from Mashable last month, Stephanie Walden wrote about the future of windows as it relates to our digitally connected life. 

Here are some of the predictions she made:

  • Windows will go from being static objects to also acting as screens that present information, communicate with the rest of your home, and display visuals.
  • People interact (with their windows) just like their phones and other touch screen technology. The role of a TV could also be replaced or added to.
  • Gesture commands will likely be introduced, similar to software like the Nintendo Wii or Xbox Kinect, where users could simply motion with their wrist for the blinds to open.
  • Heat-sensors embedded that would physically open or close the windows automatically depending on temperature preferences in the home set ahead of time. You'll be able to control them from another world or another country. 
  • Get alerts on your phone if your windows are opened while you aren't home.
  • The light coming into the home can be automatically adjusted (in how much comes through the windows) depending on outside conditions and personal preferences.
  • On a sustainable energy level, windows could take in enough energy in order to power the building or larger structure that they are part of. A solar concentrator would go over a window but not block the ability to see through. The technology for this has already been developed by researchers at Michigan State University
  • Curtains and blinds could act as a chameleon and change color to match that of the room that they're in. Temperature could be factored in to customization as well.
  • There are some companies and products already developing these ideas, such as SONTE, but it seems they are still in early stages and the costs are often too high to be integrated into most homes.

We're excited to see these window prototypes develop and how the user experience will evolve. The touch and gestural abilities will surely progress in the coming years, and we believe voice will be a strong contender as well. Siri (Apple), Alexa (Amazon), and Voice (Google) are all examples that illustrate the potential. It may be that all these control mechanisms may become complimentary options instead of competitive choices.

Somfy Systems

Somfy Systems

Originally posted about on Mashable.