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Summary:

Should the smart home be programmable, or should it react to your needs before you even recognize them? A Time package shows the conflict between current smart home visions.

Oh yeah, this is the year the smart home goes mainstream.

This week Time has devoted a hunk of its magazine to profiling Tony Fadell, the founder of Nest, explaining SmartThings and showing off six “smart homes” that aren’t exactly smart. The profile of Fadell gets into his concept of the conscious home and won’t surprise anyone familiar with Nest, but it is a nice intro into a future with a home that adjusts to your needs.

The SmartThings profile shares what I think of as today’s version of the smart home, where the user puts connected devices into their home and develops modes and scenes that make their lives easier. SmartThings, as explained by CEO Alex Hawkinson, may represent the 1.0 version of the smart home while Fadell is after a longer-range vision that will depend on context and artificial intelligence to get the home to react appropriately around each individual. Fadell seems to realize this which could explain his emphasis on creating smarter individual appliances and “touchpoints” throughout the home.

Either way you look at it, the package loses a little ground when it profiles 6 smart homes, most of which have little in the way of electronics and are more about using space efficiently, promoting exercise or greener living. That being said, for an article my parents might read, both Hawkinson and Fadell provide good introductions into the two current points of view on how the smart home should evolve.