Home Smart Home

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Fans of SyFy’s Eureka are already familiar with the “character” of S.A.R.A.H. (Self Actuated Residential Automated Habitat), a literal “smart house” build inside an abandoned fallout shelter that serves as the residence of Sheriff Jack Carter.

S.A.R.A.H. is an AI that can open and close the hermetically sealed doors, control internal lights and temperature, and make sure Jack has a nice cold beer on tap and a tape of the latest baseball game when he gets home from a hard day’s work. In a pinch, she can diagnose injuries and compare current DNA samples against samples on file.

At the Comic-Con panel organized by the Exchange and Discovermagazine, series creator Jaime Paglia recalled that when he was first developing the series, he looked into the capabilities of a future “smart home” — and discovered they already exist, albeit not with a built-in conscious AI. For instance, Georgia Tech has the Aware Home, an ordinary-looking two-story house tricked out with all the latest sensing equipment: cameras in the ceiling, microphones in the walls, and invisible trip wires in the doorways.

And now there’s even a “smart dollhouse”, part of project called InterHome. Per a recent article in New Scientist:

Developed at the University of Hertfordshire, UK, the house is fitted with a network of infrared sensors connected to a central computer. By working out which rooms we tend to occupy at different times, software algorithms learn when we need the lights, heating or air conditioning systems turned on and, perhaps more importantly, when we don’t, says Johann Siau, the project’s coordinator. …


InterHome also aims to boost home security. By connecting door and window lock sensors to the computer, it can send a text message to the homeowner if they have forgotten to lock the front door, for instance. Texting back will lock any doors or windows in question.

Before smart homes become ubiquitous, however, we might want to make sure the AIs behind them don’t have S.A.R.A.H.’s rather mercurial temperament. She once locked Carter out when he forgot to call to tell her he’d be late, and when Carter considered leaving the town of Eureka, her abandonment issues kicked into high gear and she locked everyone inside — using her laser defense system to zap the pizza delivery boy when he tried to escape. Keep your Smart Home happy, people… or else.

The statements and opinions expressed in this piece are those of the event participants and do not necessarily reflect the views of any organization or agency that provided support for this event or of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.