Smart homes are an eventuality, but not in the immediate future

At Innofest 2014, LG’s Ken Hong gives his two cents on how the future of connected homes is a long time coming, but it'll take a while more to arrive

LG announced HomeChat at CES earlier this year - a system that will allow you to message your appliances as if they were your best bud.

That is, if you normally boss your friends around and demand they keep you updated on their life’s progress with military-esque regularity.

But is this all there is to it in the magic bubble (smart home systems) that’s been promised to us? We spend some time with LG’s Director of Global Communications Ken Hong during LG InnoFest 2014 to talk about the automated home's limitations and why it’s eventually going to happen, whether you like it or not.

The Internet of Things

"I hate to use the phrase Internet of Things (IOT); who came up with that? Companies have been doing this convergence thing for years, and then somebody comes up with IOT and it suddenly becomes a trend. It’s been around for a while and I think it’s going to take a long time, just like how HDTV took forever to get into your living room. (laughs) But it’s going to happen, just not in one year."

You won’t know what hit you

"It’s not going to happen all at once but at some point in the future, you’re going to wake up and be like 'Hey everything’s connected. When did this happen?' I think it’s just going to take over slowly. I think things like LG’s HomeChat, which you saw at CES, are the incremental evolution of smart homes; it’s connectivity, it’s convergence."

Smart homes are real, not a unicorn, right?

"We have some luxury apartments in Korea that are kind of like that. When you move in, all you have to do is set up a password and everything is connected from your locks to your security system to your network and Wi-Fi. But again, it comes at a premium price. I think for an everyday layperson, it’s still pretty far away."

Show us the future, tell us what's next

"One year it’ll be TVs, the next year it’ll be washing machines, the next year it’ll be air-conditioners. I think it will eventually happen and you know why? You will want that because it will be smart enough to know how to save you money by saving electricity. That will be why people will buy into it and then get all the other benefits with it. Smart grid will tell you when to do your laundry, and when to put the refrigerator into sleep mode. You don’t want to worry about that stuff. You want the system to do it for you and people are going to buy it because it’s all going to pay for itself in five years."

Indoor usage? How boring, we want more

"It’s not going to be just homes and about the indoors, it’s going to be cars as well. I think that’s the future. You know when you drive up to your home, not only does the garage door open and close, but also your lights, your heat or air-conditioner will come on. I think that stuff is what a connected home is. I don’t think it’s about “Hey, I’m going out, lights off!” That is so one-dimensional. With mobile devices, I think you can’t just call it a smart home, it’s just smart. There’s no limit. It’s more than just about lights going on and off. It’s got to have fluidity and almost like an artificial intelligence component to it."

Tell us something we don't know

I think smart recommendations are coming, but I think we are still seeing very early stages of it on your phone and TV now. It’s going to be a while before the system says, “Hey, I know you like superhero movies and they’re running Heroes.” I dont think we need to do AI per se, but it’s going to happen eventually. It’s going to take over whether or not you want it to. We’re already seeing signs of that in current smart systems to very low levels. Smart recommendations will be first, and the rest will unfold from there.