Remember the sound of your computer connecting to the World Wide Web? That screeching and scratching to pull and push information eventually disappeared and soon our computers were always connected. Then our phones became connected, and TVs, tablets, and on and on.
There are more connected devices than there are people, roughly two connected devices per person in the world. And the number of devices is only going to increase as our homes, and the devices and appliances in them, become even more connected. A big theme amidst the gadgetry at CES this year, The Connected Home, is turning into a real-life domestic internet you live in.
So what exactly could your home look like by 2020?
Clean the house
Robotic vacuums weren't enough, now our vacuums are cleaning and connected. Taking cleaning to the next level, the next phase of robotic vacuums are streaming live HD video and can be controlled remotely via our smartphones. Washing machines will be able to provide targeted ads and relevant coupons when your detergent is running low.
Heat the house
Our thermostat will optimise based upon our habits for maximum energy efficiency and comfort. Are you going to be home early or maybe you have to head out of town for a last minute business trip? There's an app for that.
Get into the house
Unlocking our doors can be done with our devices as well. In fact, you can be notified when someone knocks at our door, and even unlock your door remotely. No more surprise guests!
Get into the mood
Imagine controlling the lighting when you walk in the door. Your fingertips may get lazy - you won't have to flip any switches when you're coming home from a night out with a special friend and want to set the mood.
Get into the food
Refrigerators aren't just for keeping the orange juice and veggies cool anymore. The fridge as we know it is being reengineered with connectivity to simplify your life. For example, manage your grocery list in Evernote on the fridge via touchscreen, and another app will supply you with recipes, and of course, a rotating landscape of your kids' postmodern fingerpainting.
The super intelligent home
Your home could know more about your life than you do. What if your home was your central command center for your life? It knows your schedule, knows who's expected to walk through the door - and who is not - what you are wearing, when you need to do the laundry and if there's enough food in the fridge for dinner tonight.
This deeper level of personalisation will start hitting the mainstream in the next five years, and over the next decade will see mass adoption as folks begin upgrading their appliances. Last year we saw TVs that recognise who is in the room, and now we are creating home automation for individuals.
Connect home, happy couple
In my house, I like lots of light and the thermostat on 21 degrees, but my wife on the other hand likes rooms to be dimly lit and warmer temperatures. With the connected home of the future, we could each get what we want. Except when we are both in the house, then of course her settings override my preferences. It's nice when technology incorporates what I've learned through nearly a decade of marriage.
This all comes down to efficiencies - both personal and energy. You save time and energy. With these new connected (and interconnected) devices and appliances the opportunity for marketers to connect with consumers to truly deliver smarter messages and provide value on these new screens will be huge.
So in a world of creating names and acronyms, the question begs - what would this home of the future marketing opportunity be called? Digital-in-the-home (DITH)?
Regardless of what we call it, the success of the connected home will lay in device manufacturers to make sure these "smart" devices don't make consumers feel dumb.
Ryan Manchee is DG MediaMind's resident technology visionary and creative strategist for North and Latin America, providing agencies, marketers and technology partners with a prescient and strategic perspective on the shifting media landscape.
Follow Ryan on Twitter at @rmanchee
Follow Ryan Manchee on Twitter: www.twitter.com/rmanchee