Our objects are talking to us and no, we aren't hallucinating. Home automation is turning our homes and lives into a sequel to Beauty and the Beast — but instead of being punished by an ancient spell, people are benefiting from the ability to communicate with our appliances. No more spending the workday freaking out over whether you turned off your A/C before leaving home.
This is all thanks to apps like Wink — which puts you in conversation with your appliances no matter where you are. What does that mean? Well, with the help of Wink, that remote-controlled, self-cleaning litter box you've been dreaming of may stand a chance, after all. Get inspired by these automated dreams-turned-awesome inventions, then chat about your own dreams for an automated future in the comments.
Wink has enabled products like GE's super popular Link light bulbs, the kind of affordable bulb that would make Thomas Edison blush. It lets you set mood lighting in your home or switch off the lights entirely, all from your phone. Wink has also given the Honeywell thermostat a boost by allowing you to remotely customize your home's temperature, so you can personalize the climate in your little nest before you even walk in the door.
But heavyweights like Honeywell and GE aren't the only ones who can harness the wireless magic of Wink. The fearless tinkerers behind Quirky use the app to turn everyday people's pipe inventions into reality.
One of Quirky's most popular products is the Aros air conditioner, which uses your smartphone as a remote so you can control it from anywhere. This genius A/C quickly learns your budget, location, schedule, and usage, and cools your home accordingly. Its inventor, energy aficionado Garthen Leslie, spent time working for the Department of Energy until a particularly dramatic day with his own dysfunctional air conditioner sparked his brilliant idea.
Leslie isn't an inventor in the traditional sense — he simply recognized a problem and partnered with Quirky to solve for it. So, how would you automate your household objects if you had the chance? A garbage can that texts your roommates when it's their turn to take it out? A purse that beeps when you leave the house without your wallet? Share your ideas in the comments below, and head to Home Depot for all things Wink.
Kristina Loring is an independent radio producer, writer, and digital strategist living in San Francisco. She loves exploring the hidden design in cities and riding a bicycle away from tech epicenters toward the sea.