We've been dreaming about it for 100 years. Now a new wave of innovation promises to put an end to housework once and for all. All it takes is a combination of robotics, automation, and connectivity to turn cleaning, laundry, and even home security over to their digital assistants. truly ?
It was Korean company LG Electronics that set the trend in early January by promising what it calls its vision of a “home without work.” Visibility is still very poor. It currently takes the form of a small, internet-connected bipedal robot that acts as the “brain” of the connected home.
Most of the time, he follows his master around the house and responds to his various instructions: he turns on the lights in the garage, adjusts the heating throughout the house, plays music in the living room, etc. Its sensors include a camera and microphone, as well as several other accessories through which it analyzes the ambient temperature, humidity levels, and overall air quality.
The little robot that LG describes as an artificial intelligence agent (“ Amnesty International agent »), It can also move from room to room independently, as long as it is not facing stairs, and carry out surveillance, such as a portable wifi camera, or even entertain pets left alone during time spent outside.
Then a small LG mobile phone agent welcomes the owner when he returns from work. Artificial intelligence (AI) analyzes facial features to determine the mood and adapts the greeting accordingly, by playing music or customizing its report on the latest news.
“Our AI agent will help our customers get rid of their household chores with its communication and autonomous navigation functions,” said Liu, President of LG's Home Appliances Division, when unveiling the mini robot Jae Cheol.
This trend towards the so-called smart home is still very timid, and it must be acknowledged. We can even talk about a step backwards, if we compare it with a prototype of a domestic robot unveiled by Samsung exactly a year ago that promised to talk less, but work more. It was specially equipped with articulated arms that allowed it to put dirty dishes into the dishwasher, then take them out and put them away. This is a more realistic promise of household chores taken care of by robots…
But for now, the end of housework remains just a promise. The major new home automation features for 2024 are currently less ambitious. The former can still have a positive impact on our daily lives. In fact, another expression was dusted off at the beginning of the year: interoperability.
It's a concept that shouldn't be, because it's so intuitive: it basically states that identical electronic devices provide the same compatibility with their environment. Whether the phone is from Apple, Samsung, or any other company, it should be plugged into the same charger, serve as a webcam for a personal computer regardless of its operating system, etc.
So it's too early to talk about the end of household tasks, but this desire to make the home more autonomous is pushing manufacturers to take small steps towards better interaction between the different connected devices they offer for sale.
And here again, we're building on something new that was launched last year, which is an interoperability protocol between connected home devices called Matter. This should eventually make it possible to control wifi lights, connected thermostats and even smart speakers from different brands from the same control point.
Currently, this interoperability is leading to new partnerships. Samsung and LG, as well as Frigidaire, GE, and Electrolux, to name a few, have teamed up to create the Home Connectivity Alliance, an organization whose sole mission is to make all these home gadgets equipped with a more durable WiFi connection, by making it easier for them to communicate together.
A homeowner will be able to assign their automated AI agent to specific tasks more easily, or even let it take care of some automation based on their daily routine.
The emergence of robots
So the invasion of domestic robots is not for tomorrow… but it is coming. As proof of this, several manufacturers of robotic mowers (Aiper, Husqvarna, Segway), robot vacuums and mops (iRobot, eufy, Narwal) and even autonomous snow blowers (Yarbo) have updated their product catalog for 2024 by adding more efficient devices. Which will eventually be able to chat with this little robot that will follow you everywhere to determine the best time to do its work.
We see it less here, but there has been an ongoing concern for several years in Asian countries, such as Japan and Korea, regarding the loneliness of older people. In countries where the younger ones are not enough to take care of the older ones, we believe that the small home robot is able to entertain, if not help, people who have limited mobility, or who are unable to perform certain tasks on their own. They are what they were before.
This does not mean the end of housework, but it is another step in this direction…
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