Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

Abraham Maslow is known for establishing the theory of a Hierarchy of Needs, writing that human beings are motivated by unsatisfied needs, and that certain lower needs need to be satisfied before higher needs can be satisfied.

Home should be a safe place for us to rest, learn and communicate. Furthermore, it is a place to satisfy our physical needs, love one another and for sense of belongingness.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs provides us a framework to identify key elements of our future home. By fulfilling these key elements, we know that we are better satisfied with these needs.

Control4 Home Automation

The Six Key Elements of Future Home

The six key elements are:

1. Security
2. Communication
3. Knowledge
4. Comfort
5. Convenience
6. Entertainment

The first level Physiological are the very basic physical needs, we are not going into this.

The second level Safety is very well satisfied by increasing home security, by using technologies we are able to enhance our home security from in-house threat and outside dangers.

The third level is Love and Belongingness, technology doesn’t really do much for it, and we don’t want to see husband and wife sending email to each other from different rooms just because technology is there, or they simply don’t want to talk to each other. On the other hand, technologies give us more channels to communicate with close people at distance locations, and there are new means to communicate and more content to share. At the end, we want a sense of “being there” with these people at home. This sense of “being there” is just like we love to see great movies which gives us high definition realism and surrounded feelings.

The fourth level is Self-Esteem. Knowledge is power, it is obvious that acquired knowledge enhances one’s ability and value. And we all want a comfortable home. A place we can sit back and rest after long hours of working, but in our daily life there are more routine work than we expect, many tasks are cumbersome and not convenience. This is where home automation technologies will do the job for us, to make our task simpler, or to make them more efficient. Finally, we want more entertainment at home, more pleasure and fun, relax and to enjoy the shows. After all, new home technologies give us better living, gives us chance to take good rest and better prepare for the next day.

Five Key Enabling Technologies

There are five key enabling technologies to facilitate our future home:

1. Home Network – a wired or wireless network connecting the whole house, these networks are used for signaling among devices, content delivery and communication.

2. Residential Gateway – an electronic facility which act as central hub of the home network, facilitate in-house device communication, information processing and responsible for communication with external wide area networks such as the Internet, cable and others.

3. Media Center – a central repository of media either self-created or acquired. End users are able to search, fetch, playback media; record and manipulate live broadcast, be it from the air, wire or coming through the Internet.

4. Communication Center – an electronic facility for central manipulation of multiple communication channels with outside parties and within the house.

5. Security System – a central security monitoring, analysis, alert and threat mitigation system.

Five Key Enabling Technologies for future home

The Future Home

To put up the whole picture, let’s go through the six key elements of future home as mentioned earlier across these key enabling technologies:

Future homes equipped with a Security System together with the reach of the Home Network is capable of broad and in-depth monitoring of the whole house with its multiple senses – heat, smoke and infrared sensors to detect fire, water leakage sensor; something overheated, or may be something under suspicious, warning or even critical conditions. Some of these sensors are beyond human senses which mean these technologies can assure faster and more accurate discovery compare to human beings.

Threat mitigation strategies are user configurable, some incidents may be handled automatically, like turn off or turn down overused heater while computer detected there is no one at home. You may want other events to alert someone at home (he or she can handle the incident or simply evacuate), a remote contact person, or hand off straight to the fire station. The decision is to be made base on real-time signals acquired from multiple sensors, information are being analyzed by computer and co-related among other relevant information. Then, decisions are being made according to factory setting pre-defined rules, together with user configured rule sets. This will make sure the best decisions are being made and corrective action being executed in due time.

Dealing with outside danger is similar. Technologies are able to keep a closer eye on the surrounding, and mark a clear cut between authorized entrée and intrusion.

Information security is by itself a unique class of security in question. The next generation information appliances and home computing should take information security into its basic design.

Future home equipped with Communication Center and Home Network allows us to communicate beyond telephone voices, some people may look for seeing love ones’ face, other people like to chat or to share photos and music online. Furthermore, technologies are opening up new ways adapting to people’s preferred communication means, and the needs for online sharing high quality content and individual experiences.

Meanwhile, Communication Center also provides a centralized communication service to the whole house, to co-ordinate among communication channels and other home appliances, to route calls through different rooms, and to manage and distribute information acquired over the communication sessions.

Future home equipped with Residential Gateway and Home Network gives everyone except little one year old child access to the right information. Information is accessible throughout various places at home, and is more naturally integrated with the home environment. The benefit is to make information more readily available at places where it is needed. In the same sense, real-time information regarding the house – security, device status and condition, etc. – is readily accessible and controlled from multiple locations.

Comfort & Convenience
Home Automation is the term to describe application of technology at home where machine do things for us which we used to do such thing on our own. Home control is certainly one of the key applications. With a touch of button, we can virtually control any device at home, or even apply the same command to multiple devices at once, say, switch off all lights before going to sleep. Machine can help us to do things wiser, or simply make decisions for us and finish the job, for instance, machine do temperature control and irrigation better than we do. May be we are able to automate more complex tasks further down the road, say, shopping, computing.

Home automation also simplifies many different management tasks, for instance, we can already see music jukebox relieves us from managing hundreds of CDs; same can be applied to video discs and VCR tapes. Automated management functions can extend to other things like photos, or even books and magazines in case those things become electronic some day ahead.

Creative home automation applications give us more comfort and convenience as machines help us out at home. Besides, service providers in future may offer help from remote locations as we were living in a connected home ready to be served.

Future home equipped with Media Center and Home Network enables us to enjoy great shows in multiple places at home. Nowadays, we already see super high quality TV programs and movies start getting into our living room. It is even better to use our home network to deliver these great contents throughout our home, so that we can enjoy at any location we want.

Media Center act as a hub of all home content, it acquire, store, manage and deliver video, audio and other forms of media base on user request. There will be a solution ready to expand storage size easily; file format and all other necessary skills for handling today’s Media PC are luxuries and no more required in handling Media Center. Probably being a little more sophisticated than a DVD player, any average people should handle a Media Center pretty easy, and they don’t care what is MotionJPEG, DivX, MPEG4 or any new jargon coming along in future, the system can upgrade itself automatically in order to handle new things. Another key feature of media center is to provide the popular digital video recording (DVR) functionality. As TiVo had already done a great job on time shift, there would certainly be more innovative applications coming along in this area.

At last, we may want to look at the role of Residential Gateway within the context of entertainment. Being the central coordination system, the Residential Gateway knows best about the right environment, atmosphere and preferred configuration user want for a particular entertainment content. The Residential Gateway would therefore provide the right command to other devices and handle tasks properly while we are entertaining.

Final Words

Entertainment and broadcasting are big businesses and certainly one of the most exciting areas to look forward in the coming years. And many of us may ask how would be the broadcasting model for tomorrow, would it gonna be changed because of all these new home technologies ? How would high capacity recording and processing impact on the broadcasting model ? Are we able to get more out of these broadcast channels, by these new trend of combining entertainment, consumer electronics, network and computer May be we can watch football together with friends online very soon, just like kids now doing live voice chat while playing games? Is Interactive TV, movie-on-demand coming back to scene again?

Maybe we still have to wait and see, certainly customers play a pivotally role on this, but the final outcome only time will tell.

The Maslow’s Needs that can not be automated are physiological need, love and self-actualization, that is a lot ! But it is promising that future home technologies can provide us more safety, do a good job to enhance our communication with other people, gives us more ways to acquire knowledge, doing things better and easier, as well as being better entertained. That is a lot too !

REAL Digital is a new startup company focuses on delivering new Digital Home technologies and products, and is currently working on a number of innovative projects to provide new digital lifestyles.

Damien Wong, founder and General Manager of REAL Digital. Damien starts his career with Reuters in 1990, he had designed numerous innovative financial information and transaction processing systems with the company. After leaving Reuters for Microsoft, Damien was the chief technology evangelist responsible for Mainland China back in 1995 when Internet starts to blossom at that time. He later joined Sun Microsystems and had designed multiple large scale system infrastructures for large financial institutions, telcos and media companies. Before starting up REAL Digital, Damien is the head of information security with Prudential Corporation Asia.