Smart Appliance -- Integrated Home Media

Photo Credit: WeGraphics

Smart Appliance -- Integrated Home Media

Several years ago, many people are talking about the so-called smart appliances. They usually make an example as the smart refrigerator: the refrigerator will be alert when the vegetables stored in the refrigerator is consumed up and then directly order vegetable online.

Is this really a “smart” refrigerator? What if I do not want that vegetable any more, is the current price reasonable. If the smart just means the appliance are coded to perform some task automatically, does anyone indeed want these “smart”?

I have a completely different view of this.

To me, “smart” means it can understand my intension with minimum information provided, rather than making decisions based on its pre-coded program without my grant.

Let me make an example of the integrated home media system in my brain.

Every media appliance at home is part of and completely integrated into this system. Unlike more traditional ones, this system is a distributed, rather like a central one, which means every media appliance could either work cooperatively or standalone. This media system, however, is also a component of the future intelligent home control system.

Before we describe the system, let us imagine the circumstances.

You are cooking and want to listen the music. You then take out the iPod and choose which one to listen, the music will then stream to the kitchen speaker (not your iPod).

You are lying in the bed and suddenly want a music on one CD. Again you use the iPhone to choose the music and then it will stream to the speaker in your bedroom.

In other words, you can hear any music on any devices at any place and at any time, using any proper or nearby appliance.

The following figure shows the structure of the system. The foundation part (grey box) is an individual position detector which find people’s current position and decide which speaker to activate. Every appliance, no matter which room it is in and to type it belongs: PC, MAC, Home theater, or simply speaker, must have the capability of exchanging data flow with each other, as well as receiving and sending command.


Back to factories, the system implementation details will be complicated, but in the customer’s view, every detail is covered and he or she only needs to choose the content, then all are done. There is no need to know where the music is stored – on PC, MAC, CD – and the customer does not need to explicitly control which device to activate.

With respect to the technology, there is nothing new except a common public interface shared by many devices, through which they can stream data back and forward as well as send or receive command.