7 Future Technologies That Will Run All Smart Homes by 2020

CEDIA keynoter Michael Rogers foresees facial recognition cameras, smart sensors, 5G wireless and integrated social networks will be pervasive in homes in 2020s, but still no flying cars.

Futurist Michael Rogers warns that the biggest threat to the home of the future will be worsening user interfaces. He called software the "enemy of the user experience."

Jason Knott · October 15, 2015

When futurist Michael Rogers was a kid, he admits he was fascinated with ideas of flying cars. So as the keynoter for the CEDIA Expo 2015 in Dallas, Rogers couldn’t resist making analogies between the yet-to-be-created flying cars and some of the real home automation technologies that will be inside residences starting in the next five years.

Rogers, a noted columnist for the New York Times and contributor to MSNBC, has the nickname “the practical futurist.” He lived up to that moniker in which he outlined a future where homes have facial recognition cameras, smart sensors, 24/7 web connectivity, 5G wireless, augmented reality and integrated social networks … but no flying cars.

Speaking before a packed room in a "theater in the round" type of layout at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas to open CEDIA Expo 2015, Rogers noted to the packed room of attendees that Moore’s Law, which says that computing capacity doubles every two years, will continue into the next decade. He also predicts that Metcalf’s Law, which predicts that a network will exponentially grow based on the number of users connected to it, will continue. These two trends will feed the home of the future. Among Rogers’ predictions are:

Virtualized Life – People will be connected to the Internet 24/7/365 through wearable computers that will link to the home, office, car and public Wi-Fi automatically as you move around. He called wearable computers “inevitable” by the early 2020s.

Augmented Reality – Wearable technology like smart glasses will overlay data over the physical world, driven by voice commands. The glasses will also uses transducers through bone conduction to play audio in your ears “and it will sound good.”

Ambient Telepresence – This is the ability to build “virtual rooms” in different locations that you will see and use to communicate with another person in another location looking at your large display. “Displays will be everywhere in the home,” he added.

5G Wireless – “Wireless will be everywhere. 5G wireless, which is already being experimented in Korea, will transmit at 1Gb per second with 1 millisecond of latency,” he said.

Smart Sensors – Sensors can already measure just about anything in the home but Rogers predicts advancements in battery technology will enable energy harvesting from a person’s body to even more sensors.

Facial Recognition Cameras – Today’s facial recognition is “really, really good” already and Rogers envisions that a home will “recognize” people and be able to cater to their needs based on patterns. He also believes the cameras will identify a person’s mood and respond accordingly.

“By the early 2020s, houses will have ‘faces.’ It sounds spooky to some, but not to the next generation,” he noted.

Social Network Integration – He believes social networks like Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Netflix and others will no longer remain as silos but fully communicate with each other.

So with all this technology in the home, Rogers sees this scenario: A home will recognize everyone in it using facial recognition, along with their moods, and then scan everyone’s social networks and within seconds recommend a movie or music for the group to watch or listen to. He noted that most of these technologies already exist, they just are not shared by the masses today.

What Are the Trade Offs?

It’s not all peaches and cream. Rogers sees a few tradeoffs in the home of the future.

First, the difficult user interfaces. The more data, the more complex the interface can become. “User experience is the first thing to get lost in software,” he says, calling software “the enemy of ease of use.”

Second, there will be continued degradation of the need for high fidelity audio and video. He says Millennials are proving they would continue to watch a movie on a laptop or smartphone vs. even a 4K TV. He says the rise in “social viewing” proves it, where two or more Millennials in different locations jointly watch a movie in real time over the web.

Lastly, security will continue to be an issue, however, Rogers no longer foresees a massive “9/11-type breach” is coming. He does believe that consumers will soon be forced to pay more money for the right to maintain more privacy.

  About the Author

Jason has covered low-voltage electronics as an editor since 1990. He joined EH Publishing in 2000, and before that served as publisher and editor of Security Sales, a leading magazine for the security industry. He served as chairman of the Security Industry Association’s Education Committee from 2000-2004 and sat on the board of that association from 1998-2002. He is also a former board member of the Alarm Industry Research and Educational Foundation. He is currently a member of the CEDIA Education Action Team for Electronic Systems Business. Jason graduated from the University of Southern California. Have a suggestion or a topic you want to read more about? Email Jason at [email protected]

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