The smart home goes Meta
by Leanne Goott. The metaverse’s ascension will launch the smart home toward a whole new horizon – both virtual and real.Monday, 07 Mar 2022
by Leanne Goott. Initially, the metaverse won’t revamp the smart home significantly, but looking toward a future when meta technologies are more fully developed brings a whole different picture – one where the meta concept may very well supersede all things smart. With Matter’s promise of sorting interoperability issues between automated devices, and Thread about to become the relevant wireless protocol, a dark cloud has already lifted over those embracing the smart lifestyle.
The metaverse’s ascension, which will not happen overnight, will launch the smart home toward a whole new horizon – both virtual and real. In years to come, metaverse technologies will become further extensions of ourselves, even more so than smartphones.
It stands to reason that the tech, which will bring life to the metaverse and govern how we interact and operate within its limitless future boundaries will also be employed to negotiate the smart home landscape. While the big buzz is all about virtual and augmented realities (VR and AR), these technologies are still being developed, and we can only speculate on how they will give life to the metaverse, or the smart home, for that matter. However, we know that initially, the primary interfaces will be voice and hand-based.
Ongoing developments in voice control tech, hand tracking (manipulating digital objects as if they’re real) and haptics (the science of creating a sense of touch in open space), will together serve a symbiotic control function in driving the metaverse. But we’re still a long way off for these techs to reach their fuller potential of enabling the metaverse’s ideal of seamless control, interaction and movement. That said, a promising science that’s bound to revolutionise both the metaverse and the smart home, is that of eye-tracking and gaze interaction-based Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) tech. Big strides have been made in realising the potential of this tech, particularly in helping people with complex physical disabilities gain greater control of their lives through communicating with their environment and controlling the objects and devices in it.
In the year 2040, we may very well have a type of VR wearable with advanced eye-tech software that will enable a rich visual experience of the metaverse and allow for greater interaction with everything within our gaze perimeter.
Imagine a scenario where you’re sitting at home wearing your VR headset. Your smart lawnmower needs new sensors, and you’re searching for a store that sells them. After gaze-connecting with your smart appliances widget, a quick zone-in on the mower brings up a menu that lists all the stores that have its parts. Next, your gaze directs toward the right type of sensor, while a gaze shift brings up its price. The purchase part is just as simple; only there are no mouse clicks involved or even voice commands. Your eye blinks to make the purchase and set the delivery date, while built-in iris scanning tech qualifies you as the purchaser and confirms your delivery address.
The tech potential
Now project this potential onto negotiating your smart residence more intricately. With eye, facial and skeletal sensors all in sync, your avatar is attending a virtual workshop from your home office. This virtual twin reflects your exact physical movements and facial expressions. Outdoor meta-cameras and sensors further show your two fully-kitted out kids (wearing voice and eye control headsets with haptic gloves that track) are on the front lawn attending a virtual party. Your smart lawnmower with its new sensors is doing its thing in the background. Suddenly a severe lightning warning pops up on your headset. Your gaze triggers a real-time weather update for your location. It’s time for the kids and lawnmower to come in.
Your gaze command sets your avatar to auto-mode, thereby maintaining your pre-programmed virtual presence in the workshop. First, you enable your second avatar (yes, we are triplets) to go outside, take your children by the hand, and bring them in. You’ve already instructed the mower, which now is on its way to the shed. You rejoin the workshop. Before this, your avatar, while in auto-mode, has transcribed and minuted that which you missed; you quickly scan the synopsis, and you’re updated.
The concept of being anywhere, anytime, and with anyone in any situation is intriguing. The metaverse will grant one this freedom while home, whether it’s attending a virtual concert, a wedding, a fun run (on your meta-smart treadmill), or visiting a family member in the hospital. Let’s also hope that from this point on, all smart device and appliance developments are updated with what’s happening on the meta-tech front because, in years to come, home sweet home will acquire an all-embracing meta flavour.
Main image credit: MIA.
Leanne Goott is marketing manager of Mobile in Africa (MIA). Her more than 12 years of experience includes digital marketing strategy and execution, integrated marketing, team and relationship management, and event management. She believes the role of marketing in an age of greater connectivity and intensifying customer expectations, has never been more important.
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