At last weekend's International Home + Housewares Show, a key subtext of all we saw was "The Internet of Things."
If you're not aware of this concept, it's the notion that sometime soon, everything in our lives that carries an electric pulse (computers, appliances, you) will be connected. In this way, you'll be able to automatically turn on your crockpot while you're still at work and make sure that your security system is armed so that no one will break in your house and steal your dinner before you get home.
Of course, a lot of this is already happening, but the dream is of complete connectivity for all things.
Though future posts will address more food-related items, I was quite taken by the Famibot, a "multifunctional home service robot" that does a lot of things, like talk to all your other appliances. You connect your refrigerator, toaster, etc., directly or wirelessly, to Famibot's "intelligent receptacles" and then control them with your cell phone. It's kind of like a robotic housekeeper.
Should the machines rise up against you, you'd best pray the Famibot is on your side.
Although not yet weaponized, the Famibot is a security guard. Infrared sensors detect if an intruder has breached your home security perimeter, and it will immediately alert you via your iPhone. It's also got smoke sensors that continuously sniff the air for the scent of burning home.
The Famibot is, critically, and as the name may imply, "a good companion to families." The marketing explains it can make "your families' lives more colorful" by enabling you to play music, get weather reports, operas, even read stories to your kids.
The Famibot is also…well, it's also a stand-in for you. Again with the marketing copy: "When you are away from home, and miss your family, you can connect to your Famibot with your Cell Phone by a touch. With your Famibot, you can talk, watch and interact with your family members."
Gort, klaatu barada nikto.