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12 Influential Smart Home Inventions, and Why They Matter

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Being influential doesn’t always translate to direct commercial success.

This pattern is the most visible in the music industry, in which many trendsetting bands often fail to achieve mainstream popularity. Artists like the Dead Kennedys, Kraftwerk, and Captain Beefheart all pioneered genres, but this translated to limited amounts of fame and fortune.

Such a paradigm can also be seen in technology, where it’s simply not possible for every new product to become the next iPhone. Like music, some tech products are well before their time, while others serve as important sources of inspiration before they ultimately fizzle out.

Influential Smart Home Inventions

Today’s infographic from The Zebra looks at the smart home inventions helping to define the future of the nascent home IoT market.

The devices listed below may not all be massive commercial successes like the Google Nest, but many of them will be cited as influences in helping shape the smart home.

12 Influential Smart Home Inventions

The above smart home inventions range from inactive projects like the Jibo social robot, which ran through its $73 million of funding, to more commercially successful and widely available products like the Sonos smart speaker and the Google Nest smart thermostat.

While they’ve had differing levels of adoption and success, all of the above products are expected to be major influences on the smart home market going forward.

Smart Influence

To see why these products are so interesting, let’s take a deeper look into some key spaces:

1. Utilities

Before smart technology, most home utilities were controlled inefficiently and crudely.

However, devices like tado° and Nest have shown that temperatures should be optimized based on the habits of the people that occupy the home, rather than via manual controls. To accomplish this optimization, tado° adjusts air conditioning or heating based on how close a user is to returning home, while Nest programs itself based on the users’ schedule.

Theoretically, these both allow for significant savings on energy bills, and future smart home inventions will likely follow in similar footsteps.

2. Security

In the past, if you were gone for a long time, your best option may have been to have friends, family, or neighbors check up on the property.

In the smart home era, security is quickly becoming a priority so that keeping an eye on your property can be easier, safer, and more effective. App-controlled smart locks like August can grant access to visitors via “virtual keys”, while Cocoon senses disturbances in the home and alerts users via smartphone.

3. Health and Entertainment

You do most of your living at home, and the smart home aims to make this experience healthier, while also making it convenient and pleasurable.

Smart home inventions such as Awair will allow you to monitor and analyze your home’s air quality, while detecting harmful allergens and irritants in real-time.

On the entertainment front, it’s worth noting that one of the most influential devices in this category — the Jibo social robot ⁠— has gone belly up. Despite this, it is commonly speculated that the robot was well before its time, and there are now a variety of companies working on similar ways to bring AI and robotics to the home.

The Future of the Smart Home

In the next decade, the smart home is expected to grow even more autonomous.

New products will be responding to trends pioneered by many of the above products, such as voice control, homeowner data sharing, appliance connectivity, AI integration, sophisticated security systems, and smart kitchen devices.

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Technology

Visualizing Moore’s Law in Action (1971-2019)

Can the predictions from Moore’s Law keep up with technological innovation spanning almost 50 years? Watch this stunning animation to find out.

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Animation: Visualizing Moore’s Law in Action (1971-2019)

The pace of technological progress keeps accelerating.

There are many ways to show this, but perhaps the simplest way is to create a visual representation of Moore’s Law in action.

Today’s animation comes to us from DataGrapha, and it compares the predictions of Moore’s Law with data from actual computer chip innovations occurring between 1971 to 2019.

Defining Moore’s Law

Moore’s Law was originally derived from an observation by Gordon Moore, the co-founder of Fairchild Semiconductor and later the co-founder and CEO of Intel.

In 1965, Moore wrote that the number of components in a dense integrated circuit (i.e., transistors, resistors, diodes, or capacitors) had been doubling with every year of research, and he predicted that this would continue for another decade.

Later on in 1975, he revised his prediction to the doubling occurring every two years.

Like the animation, the following chart from Our World in Data helps plot out the predictions of Moore’s Law versus real world data ⁠— note that the Y Axis is logarithmic:

Moore's Law in Action

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The prophetic prediction of Moore’s Law has led to exponential progress in computing — as well as for everything else touched by computers.

It’s no surprise then, especially given that the modern information age is largely driven by increasingly efficient computing, that this law has had a trickle down effect on nearly every significant aspect of global innovation.

An Accelerated Pace of Change

Moore’s Law has translated into a faster rate of change for society as a whole.

A new idea, like the smartphone, can get immediate traction because of instantaneous communication, increased global connectivity, and the ubiquity of information. New tech advancements can now change business or culture in a heartbeat:

The accelerating rate of technology adoption

Further, since software is a “layer” built upon the foundation of computing, it means that digital products can be replicated at almost no marginal cost. This is why a phenomenon like Pokémon Go was able to captivate 50 million users in just 19 days.

Imagine this kind of scalability, when applied to things like artificial intelligence or virtual reality.

Is Moore’s Law Dead or Alive?

As with any enduring prediction, there are always naysayers out there that will boldly forecast an imminent end to the trend.

Since the 2000s, there has been an ongoing debate within the semiconductor community on whether Moore’s Law will continue its reign, or if progress will ultimately sputter out as certain physical limitations catch up with the process of miniaturization.

Earlier in 2019, Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang declared that Moore’s Law is no longer possible. For what it’s worth, Intel still says technology in chipmaking always finds a way to advance — while TSMC has recently said the law is actually alive and well.

Regardless of who is right, Moore’s Law has held true for close to 50 years, and its repercussions will continue to be felt in almost every aspect of life and society going forward.

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Wired World: 35 Years of Submarine Cables in One Map

Watch the explosive growth of the global submarine cable network, and learn who’s funding the next generation of cables.

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submarine cable network

You could be reading this article from nearly anywhere in the world and there’s a good chance it loaded in mere seconds.

Long gone are the days when images would load pixel row by pixel row. Now, even high-quality video is instantly accessible from almost everywhere. How did the internet get so fast? Because it’s moving at the speed of light.

The Information Superhighway

The miracle of modern fiber optics can be traced to a single man, Narinder Singh Kapany. The young physicist was skeptical when his professors asserted that light ‘always travels in a straight line’. His explorations into the behavior of light eventually led to the creation of fiber optics—essentially, beaming light through a thin glass tube.

The next step to using fiber optics as a means of communication was lowering the cable’s attenuation rate. Throughout the 1960-70s, companies made gains in manufacturing, reducing the number of impurities and allowing light to cross great distances without a dramatic decrease in signal intensity.

By the mid-1980s, long distance fiber optic cables had finally reached the feasibility stage.

Crossing the Pond

The first intercontinental fiber optic cable was strung across the floor of the Atlantic Ocean in 1988. The cable—known as TAT-8*—was spearheaded by three companies; AT&T, France Télécom, and British Telecom. The cable was able to carry the equivalent of 40,000 telephone channels, a ten-fold increase over its galvanic predecessor, TAT-7.

Once the kinks of the new cable were worked out, the floodgates were open. During the course of the 1990s, many more cables hit the ocean floor. By the dawn of the new millennium, every populated continent on Earth was connected by fiber optic cables. The physical network of the internet was beginning to take shape.

As today’s video from ESRI shows, the early 2000s saw a boom in undersea cable development, reflecting the uptick in internet usage around globe. In 2001 alone, eight new cables connected North America and Europe.

From 2016-2020, over 100 new cables were laid with an estimated value of $14 billion. Now, even the most remote Polynesian islands have access to high-speed internet thanks to undersea cables.

*TAT-8 does not appear in the video above as it was retired in 2002.

The Shifting Nature of Cable Construction

Even though nearly every corner of the globe is now physically connected, the rate of cable construction is not slowing down.

This is due to the increasing capacity of new cables and our appetite for high-quality video content. New cables are so efficient that the majority of potential capacity along major cable routes will come from cables that are less than five years old.

Traditionally, a consortium of telecom companies or governments would fund cable construction, but tech companies are increasingly funding their own submarine cable networks.

tech company submarine cables

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Amazon, Microsoft and Google own close to 65% market share in cloud data storage, so it’s understandable that they’d want to control the physical means of transporting that data as well.

These three companies now own 63,605 miles of submarine cable. While laying cable is a costly endeavor, it’s necessary to meet surging demand—content providers’ share of data transmission skyrocketed from around 8% to nearly 40% over the past decade.

A Bright Future for Dark Fiber

At the same time, more aging cables will be taken offline. Even though signals are no longer traveling through this network of “dark fiber”, it’s still being put to productive use. It turns out that undersea telecom cables make a very effective seismic network, helping researchers study offshore earthquakes and the geologic structures on the ocean floor.

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