When do smart homes just become homes?

These days, we use the term “smart home” to differentiate homes that allow for centralized, automated control over lighting, climate, security, and entertainment from those that don’t. Yet a day may come when this distinction becomes obsolete and almost comical. That is, when every home is a smart home.

If history is any indication, tech labels are only temporary. Up until the 1930s, the term “motor car” was used to indicate an upgrade from previous modes of passenger transport (though it was used in Britain for some time after that). When all vehicles were powered by motors, they were simply called cars.

There are probably a ton of examples that follow this formula. At one point in time, there was a need to distinguish automatic traffic lights from those that required a worker to pull a lever to change signals. Later, they simply became “traffic lights”. Until the 1970s or later, the term “color TV” was an absolute necessity, even a selling point. Another notable example is the “electric lamp”, a term coined by adding a modern adjective to a word that had been in use for centuries.

The point is that as a technology becomes ubiquitous, it’s no longer necessary to differentiate a product from its previous iteration. New innovations are constantly arriving, which lead to new definitions and descriptions. Color televisions, for example, become LED or LCD televisions. Cars become hybrid or electric cars.

Terms like “smart home” and “home automation” are probably not the only ones we’ll no longer find necessary in the years to come.  “eTicket” and probably quite a few of its e-prefaced friends will face a similar fate. It’s unlikely that others such as “social media” will stand much of a chance as all media becomes integrated and shareable. And, eventually, “digital life” may once again simply be called “life”.

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