Smart Home: The Smart Art of Living
Many people associate Artificial Intelligence (AI) used in household situations with robots, moving around the house like humans and taking care of assigned tasks. They often have a wrong impression of what AI actually is.
In fact, AI has taken over many households by now, just not as robots, but as intelligent assistance systems. These systems support humans in many aspects, making day-to-day life easier and more organized.
What kinds of assistance systems are there?
Today’s assistance systems enable us to control our home, for example, via voice. You could toggle the light, organize your music or get helpful information. If you would like to know about today’s weather or how long you’d need to get to a certain point, you could simply ask the assistance system. You could even set up a to-do list for regular errands and for people wanting a little extra security – there are systems specifically designed to secure the housing area (e.g. via Geofencing). This means that the AI security system gets automatically activated as soon as the system detects someone at the perimeter and no registered smartphones are in the house.
Smart home speakers like Google Home and Amazon’s Alexa are pretty popular because they give you a feeling of real, two-way communication. But assistance systems are not limited to voice-operated systems. It is actually possible to interconnect every device in a household.
How could these intelligent systems be of use?
A good use case would be for people with disabilities, caused by age or sickness. AI could help people who are physically and mentally restricted in their everyday life to enjoy their freedom and feel more independent.
Elli Q for example is a system, especially suitable for elderly people. This system, developed by Intuition Robotics, is a countermeasure for the isolation of elderly people. What that means exactly?
Well, imagine Elli Q being a small robotic device you can place on the living room table. Through its speech interface, it can communicate as well as interact with the older generation and motivate them to perform various activities. This may be e.g. by encouraging them to go for a walk when the weather is good, suggesting interesting audio books or enabling video chats with other family members. Elli Q is like a virtual housemate and assistant at the same time, making sure you don’t feel lonely and reminding you of simple daily to-dos and appointments. Take a look yourself:
The MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory is working on an equally interesting invention called WiGait, a system that is analyzing how humans move. Technology like this could be used in the future to detect if a person is behaving abnormal. If s/he, for example, is taking longer than usual to finish a routine task, this might be caused by a medical condition. Help could be ordered if needed.
The prerequisite for AI to ease the life of elderly people is simply their acceptance of this kind of technology, but that is something, most of them find very hard to do. Even though they are sceptical whether or not to use them, intelligent assistance systems could and will make everyday life easier for humankind, allowing them to focus on what matters to them and staying in contact with their loved ones.