The home of the future will be a connected home. Depending on how you look at things, the future could be tomorrow, next month or next year. In my view, the future is now!
All the components that make up a connected home are right in front of you, as I will elaborate.
So what is a connected home, you may be asking yourself? Well, we are talking about a home where all devices can communicate and share data and content wirelessly or otherwise.
The home owner and occupants are able to access and interact with content stored locally or streamed from on-line sources.
Here is a scenario, you are watching a Youtube video on your smart-phone, when you get back home, and you would like to share the same video with your family or colleagues on the big screen TV. All you need to do is send the video to the TV wirelessly straight from your phone, no need to turn on any computers.
This is possible through Apple’s air-play, a feature which allows devices to share content wirelessly. Other device manufacturers such as Sony and Google have their own form of wireless streaming which have other names.
Smart TVs are all the rage at the moment. Manufacturers including Sony, Samsung, LG, Toshiba, Panasonic and Philips are pushing a new TV platform dubbed Smart TV. Basically, smart TVs are TVs with built-in functionality to access the internet and the ability to install applications for various functions.
Smart TVs allow you to surf the web, interact with friends on social media, listen to internet radio, watch videos on-line, play games and lots of other functions, all in the comfort of your living room.
That computer in your house can be turned into a media server to supply music, videos or movies to all the rooms in the house. The most important upgrade you need to make would be increasing storage and some kind of network access either wired or wireless.
Alternatively, you could invest in a dedicated storage device such as a network drive or off-the-shelf server. The downside of going this route would be the high cost. Otherwise, your existing computer should do the job.
You need some form of media playback device to interface between your TV and storage device. This could be Apple’s Apple TV, Google TV, Sony Play Station, Microsoft X-Box or even D-link’s Boxee Box. However, some smart TVs have built-in media player applications and can handle all kinds of media formats. These TVs do not need stand alone media players.
You need some form of access to the internet. This could be a USB dongle, smart-phone or shared wireless hot-spot such as the Egg router from BSC. You could also utilize the hot spot function in your smart-phone to spread the internet around the house.
What are all the gadgets for if they have no access to content? You could access tonnes of free content on the internet or you could stock up on movies, music and videos on your local media server. It is just a matter of convenience.
Tablets, Smart-phones and other portable devices
So where do these portable gadgets fit in the whole mix? Well, you do not have to carry your TV around the house to enjoy your content. Your tablet computer or smart-phone should do that.
With a portable device, you have the ability to access your content anywhere around the house without annoying cables. You have freedom to enjoy your media wherever and whenever you wish.
So there you have it folks, the home of the future.