Imagining the Internet Project

 

 Responses to this 2020 scenario were assembled from Internet stakeholders in the 2012 Pew Internet & American Life/Elon University Future of the Internet Survey. Some respondents chose to identify themselves; many did not. We share some—not all—of the responses here. Workplaces of respondents who shared their identity are attributed only for the purpose of indicating a level of expertise; statements reflect personal views. If you would like to participate in the next survey, mail andersj [at] elon dotedu; include information on your expertise.  



 
Credited responses
to a tension pair on
smart systems and
the Internet in 2020 

This page includes credited survey participants' contributions to the discussion of the future of the Internet and smart systems by 2020. This is one of eight questions raised by the 2012 Elon University-Pew Internet survey of technology experts, stakeholders, and social analysts. Results on this question were first released by Pew Internet Director Lee Rainie and Imagining the Internet Director Janna Quitney Anderson June 29, 2012.

In a recent survey about the likely future of the Internet, technology experts and stakeholders were fairly evenly split when it came to imagining what role smart systems may play in making people's homes more efficient by 2020. 

>To read the official study report, please click here.<

>To read anonymous responses by participants in answer to this question, click here.<

Following is a large sample of the responses from survey participants who took credit for their remarks when sharing their thoughts in the survey. Some are longer versions of responses that were edited to fit in the official report. About half of the respondents chose to remain anonymous and half took credit for their remarks (anonymous responses are published on a separate page).

Survey participants were asked, “How do you see smart systems evolving and being used? Explain your choice and share your view of this tension pair's implications for the future. What are the positives, negatives, and shades of grey in the likely future you anticipate?” They answered:

“I’ve actually worked with smart grid and similar projects. The results, while real, are not even close to the optimistic scenario here.” —Dave Burstein, editor of DSL Prime and Fast Net News; based in New York City

“This directly relates to my area of work. Progress today is impeded by the notion of the smart grid, which posits that the electricity grid should be involved in details of building operation. By 2020, this will be seen as a historical oddity, like the term ‘information superhighway’ for describing the Internet. The word ‘smart’ will be similarly in discredit. ‘Building networks’ will be a widespread term for the networking of physical-world-relevant devices (including IT devices like displays, cameras, and input devices that are physically relevant even as they are principally concerned with information). A key issue will be to develop new conventions for interacting with these devices and for establishing standard expectations for how devices should behave in response to their increasing access to information about people, the environment, and other devices in their vicinity. Establishing such conventions is part of my work.” —Bruce Nordman, research scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory; co-chair, EMAN, Internet Engineering Task Force; based at Berkeley, California

“The fate of smart systems is tied more to the will from above rather than below, as governments (especially in developing countries) try to implement an efficient infrastructure to manage energy, water, and other concerns in the face of growing populations expecting a rising standard of living. Smart systems implemented on a mass scale from above will be the only way to ensure this. On the individual level consumers will aid and accept the uptake of smart-systems for their money saving capabilities but will demand a certain level of flexibility based on demand and pricing (i.e., paying for more than your share.) My view is that smart systems will become simpler, and these will be embedded in increasingly easy to use machines and tools. If this is so, households will become more efficient and more effective.” —Ken Friedman, dean of the faculty of design at Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne, Australia

“The way people live in their homes is one of the least appreciated, most expressive acts in American culture. Except for a small segment of people who identify with a highly engineered, rationalized way of life, living choices are based on other factors entirely. What an efficiency-oriented analysis calls ‘waste’ is the very stuff of life to most, the outward manifestation of who they are and what life is about. It is rank nonsense to believe that a technocratic model of efficiency will dominate the richness—and ‘waste’—of the culture.” —Walter Dickie, executive vice president and managing partner, C+R Research; based in Chicago, Illinois

“Bwahahahahah. Smart homes. Yeah. No. Nobody really wants a smart home. Also, proprietary technology and a lack of organized protocols and formats means that this is not going to take off for a very, very long time. My iPhone won’t want to talk to my GE smart toaster and my Bosch smart refrigerator won’t connect to my generic smart coffee maker. People don’t seem to want this stuff very much. They like for their homes to be dumb. How many people do you know who have bought one of those alarm-clock coffee pots, loved them for a month, and then stopped using the alarm-clock feature all together? Smart homes are like that on a grand scale.” —Tracy Rolling, product user experience evangelist for Nokia, based in Berlin, Germany

“The Home of the Future will be a ‘mobile’ home—that is everything that people need to be connected and efficiently manage utilities, shopping, communications, and everyday life matters will be accessible anywhere they are via a mobile device and their mobile or Wi-Fi provider. This is unlikely to be ubiquitous by 2020, and the wired up smart homes envisaged a decade ago are only practicable for new builds. In time, the only thing a household will need is broadband Wi-Fi point of connectivity. Meanwhile, smart meters and the like will only be provided on demand or if governments implement them. The technology has been around to do this for years, so only a major fuel crisis in the next five years will spur this on. The Internet will be increasingly used to get the best prices on products and delivery to the home.” —Jane Vincent, visiting faculty fellow, University of Surrey Digital World Research Centre; expert on emotions in social practices of ICT users; also an expert in mobile communications industry since 1984; based in Surrey, UK

“Sorry to be a bummer on this one. The structural constraints of existing ‘dumb’ housing and the way we provision utilities makes any massive shift problematic. An example is the pushback on the rollout of smart meters in California. If something so basic in a tech-savvy state with a history of efficiency initiatives meets resistance, what will happen in less-progressive locales? Also, there is an almost universal hatred and distrust of utility companies. The legislative will to mandate these systems—what is required to make them work—is unlikely to manifest anytime soon, if at all. Smart systems will benefit those with the knowledge to use them, and I think there will be a lot of great apps and devices on the market to make this happen. But short of a huge spike in utility bills, widespread adoption is unlikely. This seems like it will develop into another aspect of the financial and digital divide, where the people who need it least will have access and those who need it most won’t.” —Ted M. Coopman, lecturer, department of communication studies, San Jose State University; member of the executive committee, Association of Internet Researchers; lives in Santa Cruz, California, and works in San Jose

“We have a difficult time bringing integration and standardization to reality. Companies frequently develop multiple platforms, then spend years battling it out to see which platform will gain prominence. Development doesn’t take place while everyone waits to see which platform prevails. Companies would have to collaborate on an unprecedented level. Also, there would have to be significant incentives for households to adopt this technology, and the incentive would have to be financial. Most people aren’t that interested in the environment and beyond trying to lower their energy bill give little thought to the need for alternative energy sources. I don’t even think trust will be a factor until at least a single platform is utilized and people have financial incentive to do so. Once that’s in place, then the trust factor and privacy concerns will be a factor. Accomplishing this by 2020 will never happen.” —Lucretia Walker-Skinner, quality improvement associate with Project Hospitality, a non-profit organization based in Staten Island, New York

“We are a quarter-century into home-recorded video, and it’s still a task that is more complex than it should be. Very simple user interface development will be critical to the acceptance of consumption regulators. I don’t see that happening in the next nine years, though I don’t really understand why better interfaces don’t exist.” —Valerie Bock, technical services lead at Q2Learning, LLC and VCB Consulting; based in Decatur, Illinois

“The smart home will fail, not because of difficulties with IP-embedded devices, but because of lack of consumer demand. The Home of the Future will require a lot of forethought and programming of options. Think of today’s VCR or PVR. Most are too complicated for the average consumer who hardly uses a fraction of their capabilities. Consumers want simplicity not complexity. They will pay a premium for simplicity and predictability.” —Bill St. Arnaud, consultant at SURFnet, the national education and research network building The Netherlands’ next-generation Internet; research officer at CANARIE, working on Canada’s next-generation Internet; longtime Internet Society leader; based in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

“I don't like either answer much. If you haven't heard, new home construction is down. House prices are down. There will be little movement in this area by 2020. Look at automobiles—much more tractable, and there is progress, but it has been happening for a decade and is pretty limited.” —Jonathan Grudin, principal researcher at Microsoft; based in Redmond, Washington

“Smart homes are on their way, but this development is being delayed. Not so much by lack of trust as by lack of alignment of the key players—utilities, ISPs, manufacturers.” —Charlie Firestone, executive director of the Communications and Society program at the Aspen Institute, a nonprofit organization; based in Washington, DC

“Microsoft (among others) has dumped piles of money at this smart home concept (and smart roads, smart cars, etc.). I believe it has just never overcome the cost-benefit ratio. That is too much cognitive load for small benefit. For example, most of the smart home concepts that I’ve seen could be done with crock pots and simple timers.” —Jim Jansen, associate professor in the College of Information Sciences and Technology at Penn State University; sits on the boards of eight international technology journals; serves on advisory boards for three Internet start-ups; based in Charlottesville, Virginia

“The home of 2020 will be a lot like the average house of today, although some major changes will take place, especially related to things that can be affordably brought on line, like entertainment, and things that can be dropped, like landlines. By 2020, nearly all entertainment media will be delivered via Web, with the corresponding crash of cable companies, who become low-margin utilities. Most municipalities will take back cable- and phoneline-based Internet infrastructure by eminent domain or state legislation and provide low-cost or zero-cost connectivity to the home and business, probably supported by US government subsidies, arising from election 2012 infrastructure initiatives advanced by President Obama. Appliance manufacturers will build in Wi-Fi capabilities into printers, TVs, refrigerators, hot water heaters, air conditioners, washing machines, and clothes dryers, subsidized by energy tax credits, so that people can minimize their energy use and schedule machines to take advantage of lower-cost energy at night. Next-generation solar heating systems will also be Wi-Fi connected, relying on Web-based computing to maximize energy capture. But these will all be based on today’s houses, which are not particularly well-insulated. The real breakthrough in housing will take a long time to roll out: so-called passive homes, or ultra-low-energy buildings, based on new materials and very different construction techniques. Maybe by 2040.” —Stowe Boyd, principal at Stowe Boyd and The Messengers, a research, consulting and media business based in New York City

“Efficiencies driven by ‘smart systems’—which will come—are negligible compared to the broader inefficiencies of today's carbon-based economy. Unless the latter is addressed, such connected household gains will be irrelevant.” —Glyn Moody, self-employed author, editor, and journalist; active voice in online social media networks; based in London, UK

“This is the trend, although not to come commonplace by 2020. Differences among countries and regions also apply.” —Miguel Alcaine, head of the International Telecommunication Union’s area office, Tegucigalpa, Honduras

“I predict 25% of the homes in the G20 will be smart homes by 2020, controlled by a smart phone. This not only includes thermostats and drapery closures (to cut down heat and cooling costs), but it will also assist in identifying additional savings. The smart grid will be here to manage and invoice electric use by the 15-minute period, and the pricing will be intensely managed to shift load off the peak. The same goes for water use and all resource use. The smart home, smart car, and smart phone will be one and the same for control fabric—the Internet. Encryption is a must, and there will be break-ins and thefts as there are today. People are people. America will lag the G20 (perhaps the lowest penetration in smart homes) due to a lack of political will to enable and entice people to adopt the new technology. The Internet will make it not only feasible but easy and cheaper than not doing it. That is what will drive Americans to the smart home.” —William L Schrader, independent consultant; founder of PSINet in 1989—largest independent publicly traded global ISP during the 1990s; lecturer on the future impact of the Internet on the global economic, technology, medical, political, and social world; based in Sterling, Virginia

“The benefits of toaster management do not and likely never will exceed the costs. Even if the hardware, software, and communications are free, the time is not.” —Jeff Eisenach, managing director and principal, Navigant Economics LLC, a consulting business; author of numerous books and articles on technology and economics; formerly a senior policy expert with the US Federal Trade Commission; based in Washington, DC

“I see many innovations in housing that, all together, will create a house that will be printed on the spot and can be managed at a distance.” —Marcel Bullinga, futurist and author of Welcome to the Future Cloud - 2025 in 100 Predictions; based in Amsterdam, The Netherlands

“There is a tremendous commercial opportunity in this area. As embedded systems providers look to expand their market, this neglected segment will start to receive attention. Today, you can count the number of Wi-Fi-enabled home furnace thermostats on one hand. I expect this will change quickly.” —Ross Rader, general manager at Hover, a service of Tucows; board member of the Canadian Internet Registration Authority; based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

“For decades, we have been awaiting the smart home. In some ways, gains have been made (e.g., the programmable thermostat, programmable entertainment devices). However, companies have yet to create mass-produced products that meet the diverse needs of individuals in a way that is flexible, intuitive, and affordable. While the smart home is definitely in the future, it is not in the future of the lower or middle classes within 10 years.” —Jon Cabiria, CEO of Teksylos Technology, a consulting company; psychologist and executive board member, American Psychological Association Media Psychology Division; based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

“Since this is an area I’ve been in, the center of this characterization misses the point. The command-and-control model and efficiency model miss the point. The real issue is defining our infrastructure abstractly rather than using wires.” —Bob Frankston, computing pioneer, co-founder of Software Arts, and co-developer and marketer of VisiCalc, created Lotus Express, ACM Fellow; based in Newton, Massachusetts

“We are already witnessing rejection of many smart-grid initiatives. It is perceived as an intrusion in people’s lives, as a way to shift the balance of power from the individual to the utilities.” —Christian Huitema, distinguished engineer, Microsoft Corporation; active leader in the IETF; based in Redmond, Washington

“The failure of smart systems to achieve full and meaningful adoption will boil down to need and interest: Do I really care (and have the tech skills) enough to link all my gadgets and appliances to determine how ‘green’ my home is? The great unwashed will not. They’ll happily use these systems and, by and large, will allow manufacturers and system operators to gather this essentially harmless, non-private data, but they just won’t care much to take advantage of it.” —Mack Reed, principal, Factoid Labs, a consultancy on content, social engineering, design, and business analysis; COO, F8 Interactive, developer of life-like, non-violent games; longtime member of the WELL and the Burning Man community; based in Los Angeles, California

“Privacy will be a challenge, but efficient use of electricity and other resources will be essential going forward, and smarter systems will be essential.” —Larry Lannom, director of information management technology and vice president at the Corporation for National Research Initiatives (CNRI), a research organization based in the Washington, DC, metro area

“I expect the first option because it’s already clear that only a few unusually well-informed consumers are objecting effectively to ‘smart meters.’ Smart systems will be good in the sense that energy will be conserved, but at a huge privacy cost. And sooner or later the smart meters will start imposing rationing.” —Brian Harvey, lecturer at the University of California-Berkeley; based in Berkeley, California

“Feedback loops make powerful motivators. Also, as energy costs continue to rise, the use of technology to save money will clearly become increasingly common, even if simple economics is the only driving force.” —Michael Goodson, assistant project scientist at the University of California-Davis; based in Davis, California

“A few years back, BMW and Mercedes Benz had to turn off some of the onboard electronics on their high-end cars because complexity gremlins were making things break. Those are smart German companies that one assumes have a lot of control over their components and their software. Diabetic Jay Radcliffe recently hacked into his own wirelessly enabled insulin pump, changing his dosage. The Internet of Things and the subsequent world of smart systems, from smart cars and smart highways to smarter cities and smart homes is mostly overblown, and, in fact, poses a significant risk of creating overwhelming complexity, which could take down the Internet we now have.  It also opens the door to hacking scenarios we seem to not want to contemplate. Every security technology becomes obsolete. If we connect all these new things and expose them to external control, you can bet some of the forces controlling them won’t be the designers or owners. As these connected devices age, they’ll just become more vulnerable.   Imagine also the court cases of people hit by autonomous vehicles, for example. I see our ‘smarter world’ much as I see genetically modified organisms right now: very powerful technologies that could do a lot of good but are being implemented poorly.” —Jerry Michalski, guide and founder, Relationship Economy Expedition (REXpedition); founder and president of Sociate; consultant for the Institute for the Future and corporate clients in many different industries; based in San Francisco, California

“Despite the growing availability of smart devices that report their resource utilization, people have simply too much to do already to focus scarce attention on properly managing their resource consumption in fine detail. Also, people seem to resist the idea as invasive of smart grid top-down monitoring and control of resource consumption. Conservation technologies are promising, but behavior changes will be very slow.” —Mike Liebhold, senior researcher and distinguished fellow at The Institute for the Future; at one time or another, a consultant for the FCC, Congress, the White House, OSTP, NTIA, the Internet Society, IETF, Internet2, and other key organizations; based in Palo Alto, California

“We’ve already seen this happen. Almost all home security systems are now Wi-Fi. In the next decade there will be huge demand for home medical alert systems, and the market will respond to that need. Health will be a bigger driver than environmental issues.” —Hal Varian, chief economist at Google; based in the San Francisco Bay area, California

“As the demand for fossil fuels increases due to population growth, supplies will diminish. Smart homes and smart devices will become a necessity if we are to preserve and wisely consume remaining fossil fuel resources. Global warming is a reality associated with our over-dependence on these resources. Necessity will demand more efficient utilization of our energy supplies. Smart technologies will become useful end-to-end tools in this quest.” —David Lowe, innovation and technology manager, National Telecommunications Cooperative Association, a non-profit organization based in Arlington, Virginia 

“Our houses will be IP-connected. This is a fact. There will be some amazing products built on top of this platform, and I’m excited to see what they are. However, I suspect the system will still screw up and bring me soy milk when I really wanted goat’s milk. And it will never ever, ever be able to properly order me a dozen ripe avocados, though I’ll try again each time, as hope springs eternal.” —Richard D. Titus, a seed funding venture capitalist at his own fund, Octavian Ventures; producer of documentaries, including Who Killed the Electric Car?; chairman of the board for European video tech start-up Videoplaza; based in San Francisco, California, and London, UK

“The Home of the Future has been envisioned unrealistically for decades. The past vision of the future will not happen, but a more adaptive and responsive home will interact with its residents in new ways.” —Lee W. McKnight, professor of entrepreneurship and innovation, Syracuse University; founder of Wireless Grids; co-founder of Summerhill Biomass; president of Marengo Research; principal investigator of Wireless Grid Innovation Testbed (WiGiT); based in Syracuse, New York

“All new construction will be on choice one. Current and legacy homes on choice two. It is a slower process, but only due to legacy behavior.” —Mark Walsh, cofounder, geniusrocket.com; chairman, board of trustees, Union College, Schenectady, New York; board chairman, Dingman Center for Entrepreneurship, University of Maryland; board member of many start-ups, angel investor; based in Washington, DC, area

“Many more people will have greater insight into their energy use as a result of smart metering, better product labeling, and potentially (and hopefully) public policy incentives to reduce energy use (carbon tax or emissions trading). However, given the length of product replacement cycles for the major energy-consuming devices in homes, I would not expect to see many ‘homes of the future’ in the next eight years. Perhaps more devices will have easier-to-use facilities for programming them to use energy at a cheap time, but that’s about the most I expect.” —Mark Watson, senior engineer for Netflix and a leading participant in various technology groups related to the Internet (IETF, W3C), specifically dealing with video standards; based in San Francisco, California

“You don’t provide the ‘limited progress’ option I’d like, so I'll choose the second scenario (some progress, a failure only in relation to the initial hype, not in reality). There will be a few early apps that make sense. In countries like Korea, where delivery of groceries to the home is already over 20% consumer penetration, an Internet-equipped fridge that auto orders would make sense, but only if the delivery person has access to the fridge during the day (e.g., a second fridge in the garage). And you’d need much better AI to recognize the items. Very unlikely by 2020. All of this stuff moves forward by replacement. Look for incremental labor saving and greener automation in large appliances (dryer-washer combo units, saving the loading from one to the other, better dishwashers, etc.). Possibly plant-watering robots by 2020. Laundry folding robots still not mass affordable by then. Small changes! Ignore the hype.” —John Smart, professor of emerging technologies at the University of Advancing Technology; president and founder of the Acceleration Studies Foundation; based in Mountain View, California
“The reasons offered in the second option are likely to prevail except for early adopters and those with a passion for maximizing their use of new services. The intervening variable here will be home builders—the more that homes are built with such services designed in, the more buyers will take up their use.” —Sandra Braman, professor, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee; chair, Law Section, International Association of Media and Communication Research; editor, Information Policy Book Series, MIT Press

“Complexity is a solvable problem in the right hands. We should wish for the iHome from Apple. Connectivity will lead to efficiency when economics dictate: when we save a lot of money with our air-conditioning or when we are penalized for not doing so or when we penalize cable companies for the power-hogging boxes.” —Amber Case, CEO of Geoloqi, a company that creates location-based software for commercial and enterprise use; cyborg anthropologist and professional speaker; based in Portland, Oregon

“The main failure with connected systems and smart homes is the fact that there have been no solid communication standards for connecting devices together. The other failure with connected systems is that many were built before the remote servers and the Web existed. Before then, there was no way for devices to easily communicate with each other without a lot of custom code and hardware. Researchers at PARC and others tried to usher in an era of ubiquitous computing before it was really possible and affordable. Now that the Web exists, each device only needs to be able to connect to the Web and send a message through it. Making each device Web-ready will finally allow devices to be operated from a central hub in an affordable manner. The companies that realize this will create smart houses with small, affordable chips capable of being controlled by mobile apps or SMS. The house I live in has smart technology connected by 20-year-old networks, like IRC and X-10 controllers for a total of $40 in research and development and operation cost. Everything connects through a central hub, reducing the requirement of separately coded communication channels.” —Jeff Jarvis, director of the Tow-Knight Center for Entrepreneurial Journalism at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism; author of Public Parts and What Would Google Do? and blogger at Buzzmachine.com; based in New York City

“Expense and complexity are the biggest enemies to ‘homes of the future.’ Although most people theoretically like the idea of managing their resources, building a smart home from scratch or—even more so—incorporating these systems to an existing structure is costly. Especially during economic hard times, consumers will (rightfully) question the cost/benefit ratio. As these decisions are made by older, less technologically adept consumers, I also think the ‘learning curve’—a bane of many older consumers—will give pause. New TVs and smart phones are daunting enough.” —Melinda Blau, freelance journalist and the author of 13 books, including Consequential Strangers: The Power of People Who Don’t Seem to Matter But Really Do; based in New York City

“The big issue is consumer trust, and I have heard some proposals that were just absolutely preposterous in terms of totally ignoring this fundamental fact. But a lot of this stuff can go on in the background without anyone noticing [how many people can explain what is under the hood of their car?] so I think we will see a fair amount of this stuff.” —John Pike, director of GlobalSecurity.org, former director of cyber-strategy and other projects for the Federation of American Scientists; based in Alexandria, Virginia

“Smart systems will roll out quickly. As the family economics declines, people are looking for cost savings. Energy costs are going to rise at even faster rates in the future. With or without government stimulus the economics of saving energy will drive families to these tools. As more and more homes are already Internet wireless, the ability to link up with home devices becomes easier and easier. Small boxes connected to existing dumb appliances will enable faster adoption of smart appliance applications.” —Ed Lyell, professor at Adams State College, consultant for using telecommunications to improve school effectiveness through the creation of 21st-century learning communities; host of a regional public radio show on the economy; based in Alamosa, Colorado

“In nine years, smart systems will still be experimental and we’ll only see them existing in reality among a handful of elites. This will be aggravated by the socio-economic instability that began in 2008 and continues to plague Western communities. Construction projects will be limited; new home owning will have decreased since the 1990s; and most people won't have the capital to explore new living conditions. There will be serious modernization in key urban areas, particularly in corporate development, that further advance the LEED building initiatives. But not much will radically change in nine years. (I still want my jetpack, by the way; I was promised a jetpack 50 years ago.)” —danah boyd, senior researcher with professional affiliations and work based at Microsoft Research, Harvard Law School, New York University, and the University of New South Wales; based in Cambridge, Massachusetts

“Ten years ago I bought an apartment, which came with fiber optics and data cabling, and so set about building a smart home. I quickly discovered the pitfalls of this (such as when the computerized hot water system goes mad). The Home of the Future scenarios are based on false assumptions about the way people interact with their houses. See: http://www.tomw.net.au/2001/sa/rt.html” —Tom Worthington, adjunct senior lecturer, Research School of Computer Science, Australian National University; also active in CSIRO ICT Centre Telecommunications Board, Australian Computer Society; based in Canberra, Australia

“We have some impossibly intractable and well-funded boulders in our way: The utilities want to own all the data, the carriers want to own all the data, the car industry doesn’t really want to change (which would drive a lot of smartness), and we don’t see leadership in the form of real incentives for people to change their behavior. The rich, who are getting so much richer, have zero interest in saving these small amounts. The poor, who are getting so much poorer, are scrambling to survive and won’t want to invest, even if it would save them money in the end. The middle class, who might go for this kind of thing, is feeling hopeless. It’s impossible.” —Susan Crawford, professor at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government; previously a leader on the ICANN board, President Obama's Special Assistant for Science, Technology, and Innovation Policy, and founder of OneWebDay; based in Cambridge, Massachusetts

“Even if the proper technologies come into place, the emergence of smart homes will be frustrated by replacement cycles. Homes have very long life spans and can be expected to last for decades—in some cases, centuries. By 2020, most ‘dumb’ homes will still be in their useful lives, and many systems (air conditioning, roofs, refrigerators, washing machines and dryers, etc.) will not be replaced. Nevertheless, by 2020 smart appliances and systems will be on their path to broad adoption. These systems will mostly be connected ‘in the background’ through wireless to the home’s wireless router. Through them, manufacturers will be able to update firmware and diagnose performance. A few appliances will be interface devices for humans to interact with the Web. The personal computer will likely disappear and be replaced by multiple devices (e.g., portables, video screens, smart furniture).” —John Jackson, an officer with the Houston Police Department and active leader of Police Futurists International; based in Houston, Texas

“The connected household hasn’t been a killer application besides the ambitious predictions at this respect. In my opinion, this attitude won’t change from here to 2020.” —Raimundo Beca, partner at Imaginacción, a Chilean consulting company, and longtime ICANN leader; based in Santiago, Chile

“While I expect that connected households will become the norm (at least for middle-to-high income households), we need to be wary of putting too much faith in technology as our environmental saviour—at least in this very literal version, which relies on things like shifting energy consumption to off-peak hours. What’s much more promising is the way that technology can shift our underlying demands so that we become a less consumption-intensive society: a world in which we’d rather spend the day making a movie for YouTube than paying to watch one in a cinema, in which we’d rather write our own blog post than kill a bunch of trees to read a newspaper, in which we’d rather look online for instructions on how to build a piece of furniture than to go out and buy something pre-fab from IKEA. If we’re willing to treat technology as a mechanism for changing our ways, rather than as a magic wand that will let us sustain them, we might have a shot.” —Alexandra Samuel, director of the Social + Interactive Media Centre at Emily Carr University of Art + Design; based in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

“It is quite possible that by use of the technologies each household can not only manage consumption of resources, but it is also possible that the household can become the supplier of resources (e.g., electricity) to others.” —M.C. Liang, National University of Kaohsiung, Taiwan

“I do believe the Home of the Future will have vastly improved resource consumption and management, but I don’t see computer screens controlling this with user-defined options performed daily. Rather, I see things such as heaters that turn off when they sense the room is empty for a given period of time, etc. So most of the changes will come from improved devices with energy-efficient features, rather than some overall centralised program for house control.” —Ian Peter, Ian Peter and Associates, Internet Mark 2 Project; longtime leader in global Internet governance and policy discussions; based in Byron Bay, Australia

“We need an iPhone-like breakthrough in the smart homes area. Right now, the smart systems are expensive, not very user-friendly, and they are seen as something for enthusiasts and geeks. I believe this breakthrough will come and this will allow the smart systems to be more widespread. Also, the adoption of such systems could be driven by resources becoming more scarce and expensive, so the self-regulating home with power independence will become more and more important.” —Ondrej Sury, chief scientist at the .CZ Internet registry, CZ.NIC; active leader in the IETF; based in Praha, Czech Republic

“For a while I thought my Honda Civic was emailing me when it was time for maintenance. It turned out to be a coincidence, but our devices are getting smarter and more helpful. We’re getting a PG&E SmartMeter in our home in San Francisco, and I think over time it will be very useful to manage our consumption. Fast-food restaurants now post calorie counts. It makes a difference in my behavior when I know that a favorite treat is 500 calories—I either pick a healthier choice or consume less of the treat. I’m not sure our older homes will look different, but our behavior will be different.” —Karen G. Schneider, prolific author of books and articles on technology, director for library services at Holy Names University; based in Oakland, California

“Retrofitting an existing base is a huge undertaking, and many people don’t like to deal with monitoring devices. But there will be inroads in terms of energy management, as there’s a significant number of people who see a direct benefit in lowering their energy bills by better consumption management.” —Seth Finkelstein, professional programmer and consultant; 2001 winner of a Pioneer of the Electronic Frontier Award from Electronic Frontier Foundation for groundbreaking work in analyzing content-blocking software; based in Cambridge, Massachusetts

“Homes will definitely be more efficient, but to what degree and in what ways remains to be seen. Those with financial resources will be able to invest extensively in efficiency improvements, while those with fewer resources and older homes will have some difficulty with such investments. Access to expertise on efficiency improvements and installation may be difficult in some regions; however, online do-it-yourself resources have become more accessible and authoritative, so some efficiency implementations may be unique to the individual homes.” —Laura Lee Dooley, online engagement architect and strategist for the World Resources Institute, a non-profit organization based in Washington, DC

“The average home undergoes significant changes in physical plant and substantive renovation every fifteen to twenty years—and this goes down to about eight to ten years for commercial structures. The cycle of technology embedding and innovation will become viable at some level by 2020, because manufacturers, utility operators, and local governments are pushing actively in that direction. No matter what you think about the environmental considerations, the existing wasteful cost models are not sustainable.” —Duane Degler, principal consultant, Design for Context; designer of large-scale search facilities and interactive applications for clients such as the National Archives, the Social Security Administration, and Verisign; based in Washington, DC

“Homes will get more efficient because it will cost more and more to waste energy. The devices will become simpler because no one likes being outsmarted by their thermostat.” —David Weinberger, senior researcher, Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society and Harvard Library Innovation Lab; based in Cambridge, Massachusetts

“‘Smart systems’ and Home of the Future hit at that balance point between individual security and convenience with transparency. There will certainly be some abuses of any such system, but I expect that the convenience to the many will outweigh these concerns about possibilities. Ideally, I’d like to see fail-safes built in, where people regularly use the convenience factors, but are expected to practice ‘unplugging’ from time to time to assure survival in case of catastrophic system failures or intentional hacking.” —P.F. Anderson, emerging technologies librarian, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Michigan

“The fundamental problem is cost of such systems, which is driven by complexity and dependence on big-infrastructure, which will consume many of the energy and other savings that the system might otherwise deliver. A fresh infrastructure-free approach that allows such devices to form an in-house mesh and suitable protocols to allow the sensor data to be visualised and fed into the control systems is necessary. Even then problems of security arise.” —Paul Gardner-Stephen, rural, remote, and humanitarian telecommunications fellow at Flinders University; founder and director of the Serval Project; based in Adelaide, Australia

“With the proper governmental influence to push efficiency in power and general consumption, we will make it happen. I don’t know that people want all the lights and gadgets in their homes to be controlled, but to have the option as a way to save (or even make) money on energy, well, that is incentive!” —Peg Achterman, assistant professor of communication, Northwest University, Kirkland, Washington

“Smart homes won’t become pervasive, unless driven by some major change in technological underpinning. This is not because of consumer trust issues; consumers lack perspective and information and too often give trust where they should not. The reason is that it is extraordinarily hard to create really good designs for consumer items, and usages tend to shift only incrementally once established. New devices may arrive after technical breakthroughs, but the design of existing devices lingers for long periods. For instance, on the whole, the modern kitchen is surprisingly similar to the kitchen of the 1950s and earlier. Efforts to computerize and network kitchen appliances have been failing for twenty years. There are many examples of century-long (and longer) persistence of consumer culture in the recent book At Home by Bill Bryson.” —Allison Mankin, employed at a research organization in the Washington, DC, metropolitan area

“Smart systems will know a big jump between now and 2020 mainly because a lot of the positive effects could be applied directly by the providers. Power companies could remotely reduce the consumption in homes; ISPs will optimize bandwidth consumption through the network; and so on. On the contrary, the individual initiative on smart systems will not become a generalized behaviour and will remain only a privilege of few or some.” —Giacomo Mazzone, head of institutional relations, European Broadcasting Union; based in Geneva, Switzerland

“The Home of the Future will be limited in the United States because the network infrastructure will not be capable of transmitting the data necessary across the country, especially in rural and poor urban areas. This will be a barrier unless our policies are adjusted to encourage the build-out of a single robust open-access network over which service providers deliver services in geographies that lack the ability to attract three or more network-based service providers. The Home of the Future will be even less likely to be seen in developing countries due to the inability of the private sector to achieve an adequate return on investment.” —Bill Shuffstall, extension educator in economic and community development, Penn State University; based in State College, Pennsylvania

“The connected household is available and is extremely efficient and eco-friendly. It exists, however, in only a very small proportion of the total housing in the United States (or elsewhere). There is a stock and flow issue—most new construction is adopting the new technologies, even at the relatively low end, but it will take several generations to replace enough of the existing inefficient units to have a major impact. This replacement issue has been exacerbated by the extended economic malaise. So consumers have accepted the new technologies. They trust it. They only wish they could afford to buy a new house that embraces it.” —Charles Perrottet, partner at the Futures Strategy Group; author, speaker, and a leader on the Millennium Project Planning Committee; based in Glastonbury, CT

“2020, home is where the government is. All new homes come pre-installed with invisible webcams, and as half of society is watching the other half, unemployment is resolved. The old name of surveillance becomes ‘observatory of man’s anabasis’ or ‘1 billion blossoms.’ Still, drowning in the mirror of its own triviality, society loses motivation and growth is anemic.   Many escape to the mountains in Internet-free reserves, with no Wi-Fi poles or electricity and running water inside houses. But most shrug it off and use the Internet as usual, swapping poems in cyberspace or how to tend to their house plants with a Web-based watering system.” —Nicole Stenger, proprietor of Internet Movie Studio; based in San Francisco, California

“Progress will be minimal, but our systems will be smarter as all our systems are getting naturally. We’ll never see our houses work like The Jetsons. We won’t see this as a big change that happens overnight, but a series of gradual integrations as next-generation home technology is built with some of this incorporated. Just like you have hardly any choice to buy a laptop without a webcam today, in several years people will have no choice but to buy smart-system home products.” —David D. Burstein, founder of Generation18, a youth-run voter-engagement organization; author of FastFuture: How the Millennial Generation is Remaking Our World; commentator on millennials, social innovation, and politics; a senior at New York University 

“Smart systems are very difficult (expensive) to install in a conventionally built house. I see gradual progress over the next twenty-five years, but not much in the next eight-and-a-half.” —Fred Hapgood, technology author and consultant; moderator of the Nanosystems Interest Group at MIT in the 1990s; writes for Wired, Discover, and other tech and science publications; based in Boston, Massachusetts

“These systems have become a public policy imperative to address resource management and environmental concerns. I don’t see any downside. By 2020 most of these functions governing household operations will be implemented and accessible on mobile devices.” —Sam Punnett, president of FAD Research Inc.; analyst for public and private funds supporting media and tech development; contributing writer to the Canadian Internet Project, a part of the World Internet project run through USC; based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

“Because of the cost and complexity of retrofitting homes with smart systems, many of today’s smart systems will not become mainstream. However, residents will be able to monitor their homes using new systems located outside of homes at the neighborhood or city level. They will be able to make adjustments in their behavior based on the data provided from those monitoring systems.” —Cathy Cavanaugh, associate professor of educational technology at the University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida

“For those who can afford ‘smart’ homes in new construction, the Home of the Future will win out. But the majority of the world will not have smart homes in the near future because corporate interests will not want this to happen. Corporate influences will keep government leaders from implementing paradigm-shifting incentives to make homes more green and smart.” —Daren C. Brabham, assistant professor in the School of Journalism & Mass Communication at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill

“Based on my experience with Cox (which delivers phone, television, and Internet services to my home), I opt for scenario two. The complexity of the Home of the Future is too great for most people to efficiently manage, an inability that makes us increasingly dependent on an army of invisible expert technicians (or worse yet, pre-recorded voices that answer our anxious phone calls). As those technicians are predictably unavailable, unresponsive, and increasingly expensive, it is doubtful that people will entrust their only refuge to them and the companies they work for. In addition, the hope that the Home of the Future will impose less of a stress on the environment is predicated on the belief that the average consumer is indeed concerned about the environment and cares about its future. But such a concern and attention requires education, empathy, critical self-reflection, and attention to other peoples’/species’ needs. No aspect of everyday life (past, present, or future) can be thoroughly analyzed (or predicted) by excising it from the broader context of which it is always part.” —Simon Gottschalk, professor in the department of sociology at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas

“In the Cook Islands, the government has promised greater use of alternative energies and more efficient methods of managing our energy resources using information technologies. Their objectives include making greater use of natural resources for energy production and to cut down on energy waste and their potential impacts on the people of the Cook Islands and our environment. It would be good for the future of our islands, if their proposed environmentally focused model of management became a reality. I would like to think that by 2020, we would be well on the way to making it so.” —Maureen Hilyard, development programme coordinator for the New Zealand High Commission; vice chair of the board of the Pacific Chapter of the Internet Society; based in Rarotonga, Cook Islands

“This trend will increase in affluent societies, but these goals will be achieved more likely in 2030 than 2020.” —Marti Hearst, professor at the University of California-Berkley; member of advisory boards for major search engine companies; consultant to high-tech startups; based in Berkeley, California

“The connected household will be efficient. The number of connected households will still be in the minority due to a lack of reliable and affordable broadband and the cost of upgrading non-compliant appliances.” —Adrian Schofield, manager, applied research unit, Johannesburg Centre for Software Engineering; president, Computer Society South Africa; based in Johannesburg, South Africa

“While I believe that there will be a greater degree of household connectedness, I am not sure it will be as dominant as suggested in this statement. It is inevitable that smart systems will become more important. The majority of homes in existence today will be the same as in 2020, as such, implementing those systems will still be difficult.” —David Morris, managing director of research for the Michigan Economic Development Corporation; based in Lansing, Michigan

“Economic incentives will clearly move society in the direction of the first choice but the transition will not be as rapid as the 2020 time frame suggests. The cost of the retrofit is too large.” —Henry L. Judy, an attorney contracted for his expertise in corporate, commercial, technology, and financial law by Washington, DC, firm K&L Gates LLP; based in Asheville, North Carolina

“Some early adopters may have the smart system by 2020, but I do not picture the median income American family having taken on the upfront expense and the trust in systems to help the environment.” —Mary Starry, assistant professor at the University of Iowa; based in Iowa City, Iowa

“There will be two worlds here. Those who are the early adopters today are likely to make heavy use of smart systems technologies. But for most, the lack of a cohesive user interface, competing standards, and the difficulty of integrating technologies with the built infrastructure will slow their adoption.” —Alex Halavais, associate professor at Quinnipiac University; vice president of the Association of Internet Researchers; technical director of UCHRI Digital Media & Learning Hub; managing partner of Forward Memory; author of Search Engine Society; based in New York City

“We as a societal herd are not quick enough at adopting eco-sensibilities, and 2020 is not far enough out in the future to make smart systems a sure thing, but people will be on the right track and aiming for resource consumption minimalization as a further-future goal.” —Beth McConnell, telephone captioning assistant for Captel (Ultratec, Inc.); based in Madison, Wisconsin

“Smart systems are only as good as their user interface. If they aren’t easy to use and they don’t ‘just work,’ then they will not see widespread adoption beyond those who consider themselves geeks or are interested in the green aspect of using these systems. Your grandmother has to be able to understand these systems. If she can’t, they’ll fail.” —Wesley George, principal engineer for the Advanced Technology Group at Time Warner Cable; he also works with IETF; based in Herndon, Virginia

“I almost refused to check either alternative because the language of the second alternative seems to suggest that the smart systems will be some kind of proprietary crap from the Gingrich/Gates/Gore axis of walled garden totalitarianism.” —Kevin A. Carson, research associate at the Center for a Stateless Society, the Alliance of the Libertarian Left, and the Foundation for Peer-to-Peer Alternatives; based in Springdale, Arkansas

“Hopefully, large organisations will focus on developing and promoting these developments. If we fail to develop the power of the Internet in these areas, we should hang our heads in shame.” —Carol S. Bond, senior lecturer in health informatics at the school of health and social care, Bornemouth University, based in the UK

“2020 is not very far away in terms of the effort involved in smartifying existing housing stock and other infrastructure. This is a 2030 trend.” —Pete Cranston, digital media, knowledge sharing, and ICT4D (information and communication technologies for development) consultant; based in Oxford, UK

“The early returns on smart systems in homes are positive when a heavy dose of consumer education is included—and there have been failures when the consumer education component is neglected. That would suggest that industry has learned the lesson that consumer education and trust must be cultivated from the start. But there will be frictions in adoption because of consumer reluctance (not withstanding efforts to inform consumers) and the current economic crisis that is likely to endure (i.e., consumers and/or utilities will not have the resources to buy the necessary gear).” —John Horrigan, vice president of TechNet, a research organization; formerly at the FCC working on the National Broadband Plan and, before that, a researcher with the Pew Internet & American Life Project; based in Washington, DC

“I would be surprised if the home of 2020 were not altered substantially from that of today. Increasing concern for controlling costs, protecting the environment, and efficient use of resources will drive those changes. However, I doubt that information technologies will be the main vehicle for these changes. Initial costs and user education will be the major impediments to widespread creation of the Home of the Future. Smart systems to manage our homes will come someday, but not by 2020.” —Hugh F. Cline, adjunct professor of sociology and education at Columbia University; retired from a position as a senior research scientist and administrator in an educational testing company; lives in Princeton, New Jersey, and works in New York City

“The increasing awareness of the finite nature of resources will continue to drive an interest in managing consumption. It has something for everyone since it benefits both the environment and the bank account. The key to success will be creating a cost-effective and user-friendly way for individuals to manage their resources. The danger is regulatory intervention and imposed standards.” —Pamela Rutledge, director, Media Psychology Research Center, Fielding Graduate University, and instructor, UC Irvine Extension Business School; based in Palo Alto, California

“The problem here is not the direction nor the eventual destination, but the timing envisioned (i.e., by 2020). The promise of the Home of the Future cannot be realized in the next decade. Barriers including the following: economic weakness, economic uncertainties, building codes, lack of standardization, lack of oversight/regulation (which actually leads to an atmosphere of business confidence), lack of tested, mature technologies, and resistance from entrenched technologies.” —Donald G. Barnes, visiting professor at Guangxi University in China; former director of the Science Advisory Board at US Environmental Protection Agency; based in Alexandria, Virginia

“The global rich will have smart systems. Most of the world will be more interested in trying to find food and water. Populations are not growing in so-called developed nations, they are growing where there are little resources—water and food wars are coming. Technology won’t mean much when your family is starving.” —Bill Daul, chief collaboration officer at Social Alchemist, NextNow Network, and the NextNow Colaboratory, non-profit work based in Palo Alto, California

“Homes will be about the same in 2020 as they are now. Reducing consumption and making something like a home significantly more environmentally friendly is simply not something most people (homeowners and builders and whoever else factors into the process of making a home a home) are willing to sacrifice much to do. That’s my general view on people’s outlook about the environmental crisis. It has yet to be demonstrated and felt by normal first-world people in their normal first-world lives that anything much worth worrying about is happening, so no one is going to significantly change consumption patterns in the near future.” —David Kirschner, PhD candidate and research assistant at Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

“We should be much farther along with this than we are, but one reason we are not is expense, another reason is difficulty of use, and yet another reason is difficulty in gaining public understanding of the cost versus benefit of making and implementing smarter in-home devices and systems.” —Steve Jones, distinguished professor of communication, University of Illinois-Chicago; a founding leader of the Association of Internet Researchers

“Smart homes will enable residents to manage, reduce, and eliminate many forms of consumption, both through monitoring their own house and benchmarking with others.” —Cathy Cavanaugh, associate professor of educational technology at the University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida

“The direction is inescapable, but the timescale is longish, being tied significantly to renewal or at least refurbishment of housing stock. There is no reason for it to be any harder to use than your average iDevice. The only risk of ‘failure’ is if Google’s return-on-investment timescales catch on, but they are so against human nature that that is hard to imagine. By 2020 Baby Boomer retirement housing will be a major issue and we may see a smart move towards more configurable housing and away from the design for easy resale (based on outdated expectations) that still dominates today’s norms.” —Tony Smith, Kororoit Institute Proponents and Supporters Association, publisher at Meme Media; Open Source Developers Club; based in Melbourne, Australia

“IP-enabled devices will continue a strong market share for household item purchases; however, this does not mean that the majority of any given population (unless it is located in a Western socialist nation) will have access to them. Given the growing gap between rich and poor, I do not see the Home of the Future becoming anything widespread.” —Randolph Hollingsworth, assistant provost, University of Kentucky; webmaster for Central Kentucky Council for Peace and Justice and other organizations; member of H-Net (Humanities and Social Sciences Online) Council; Wikipedia editor; based in Lexington, Kentucky

“Eight years into the future, society will continue to talk about smart systems, trying to grasp the possibilities and opportunities but will not have moved significantly forward in adoption. Large buildings, government- or business-focused, will continue to be the predominant base of installation and experimentation. Residential adoption will continue to be focused on the installation and operating costs along with the apprehension of making an expensive short-term investment for a long-term gain. The technology and available systems will not be the impediment to adoption. The financial costs will be.” —Kevin Novak, VP for integrated Web strategy, technology, American Institute of Architects; co-chair, eGov Working Group, World Wide Web Consortium; speaker, author on Web, electronic government; consultant to World Bank on the eTransform Initiative; based in Washington, DC

“The so-called smart systems are more likely to be developed in order to maximize profits of the providers rather than the comfort and savings of the customers. Their overall benefits in terms of productivity at both ends and energy consumption are still to be demonstrated. They are more likely to be imposed upon the end users till their defects force people to redesign or discard them. In any case the cost and constraints of adapting the existing environment will require far more time for their generalization in the advanced economies.” —Michel J. Menou, visiting professor at the department of information studies at University College London; based in Les Rosiers sur Loire, France

“I await my jetpack. While I’m waiting, my home is much smarter, as are my car, my fridge, and my lawn care. The pace of growth in smart systems for enhancing performance continues apace.” —Paul Jones, clinical associate professor at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill

“I don’t believe the adoption fails because of consumer trust. Adoption has failed because of the cost and complexity of starting the new services. Our houses weren’t designed to accommodate these types of technologies, so retrofitting is expensive and time-consuming; there also is no penalty for not doing it. As the cost comes down for implementing these technologies and a quick retrofitting solution is designed (combined with new constructions being pre-packaged with this type of technology), this will become a reality. We are increasingly more interested in conservation of resources and being more efficient as the data comes out to support our negative impact on the environment.” —Kris Davis, user-experience designer for Webvisible; based in Costa Mesa, California

“People thought this was around the corner ten years ago and it seems to have advanced to typical consumers not at all. This could be due to the lack of standardization for interoperability or other factors that I know nothing about. I don’t see any gain in momentum after a decade of no change.” —Ruby Sinreich, director of new media strategy and the Digital Media & Learning Competition at the Humanities, Arts, Sciences, and Technology Advanced Collaboratory based in Durham, North Carolina; lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina

“We are seeing a tremendous progression in applications and data interfaces. As those applications progress and become more integrated, and as feedback becomes more useful, the role of these applications in creating a smart house would become more compelling. The danger is that smart houses require full systems to succeed and those systems will fail—but this negative scenario seems more likely to give way to a component model where smart systems solve individual problems, not the full problem. With smart systems directed at individual solutions, they can be swapped out as needed, like changing a light bulb, and they will not bring down the whole system when there is a failure. One can imagine simple systems—such as programmable thermostats, robotic vacuums, programmable watering systems, alarm systems—all becoming progressively more compelling and driving smart houses. You then move to a smart-by-design mentality where the houses are built smart from the ground up, enabled to interoperate with new components as they arise.” —Robert Cannon, founder and director of Cybertelecom; senior counsel for Internet law in the Federal Communication Commission's Office of Strategic Planning and Policy Analysis, Washington, DC

“I actually recently saw a talk about this exact topic from a researcher at Microsoft Research. His research indicates that most people are hesitant to invest in a smart home because of the time and financial cost of ownership and maintenance, not the time and cost of initial set-up. Smart homes will not be successful due to infrastructural and policy issues. First, our ‘tubes’ are puny and can barely support HD streaming, so an entire house (times a billion) seems unlikely. Second, I don’t want my fridge to shut down because Comcast decided to throttle my connection or because I went over my monthly allowance of data. Technology adoption and development over the next ten years will be determined by a lack of infrastructure investment and a lack of resolution on policy.” —Natascha Karlova, PhD candidate in information science at the University of Washington; HASTAC Scholar; based in Seattle, Washington

“There are issues about who owns the customer and how/by whom smart services are delivered that will delay evolution toward the vision suggested by the first of these two choices, so I’m choosing the second. I suspect there will be more addressable devices eventually, and a smart grid system that will replace the current method for delivering energy services. The grid may be more decentralized with more customers producing some or all of their own energy. We may see some of this by 2020, but I think it’ll take longer to sink in, and it’s hard to see the shape of it. Energy disruptions and innovation will both influence the outcomes.” —Jon Lebkowsky, Internet pioneer and principal at Polycot Associates LLC; consultant and developer for mission-driven nonprofits and socially responsible companies; president of the Electronic Frontier Foundation-Austin; based in Austin, Texas

“Whilst I don’t think we will be completely there, we will be well on the way. There are still many questions to answer around privacy and trust, and there are also some challenges around the technology itself and how it is implemented. Overall, this will be a positive development, which will help us to not only raise greater awareness about our resources, but also how we use such resources. A reward system for consumers to use such technology by governments, e.g., tax rebates, would help drive adoption and further develop the technology and its utility.” —Rajnesh Singh, regional director, Asia, for the Internet Society; founder or co-founder of multiple companies; based in Singapore

“Smart systems will only seep incrementally into our homes in this short time period. They won’t be good enough or easy enough to use or cheap enough, unfortunately.” —Richard Holeton, director, academic computing services, Stanford University Libraries; co-leader, EDUCAUSE Learning Space Design Constituent Group; author of Cyberspace: Identity, Community, and Knowledge in the Electronic Age; based in Stanford, California

“2020 is way too soon to see much change in the housing stock. Maybe 100 years from now, the housing stock will be significantly different, but not a decade from now.” —Cheryl Russell, editorial director for New Strategist Publications and author of the Demo Memo Blog; based in Beaufort, South Carolina

“The lack of adoption will not be because the technology won’t be there or that consumers will fear it (the 2012 weirdos aside.) In the infamous words of James Carville, ‘It’s the economy, stupid.’ With so many Americans out of work (or under-employed), upside-down on their mortgages and frightened by their prospects for retirement, few are going to divert income to a cool new gadget. It’s unlikely that the effects of this economic downturn will disappear soon enough for a wave of smart systems to be installed within the next eight years.” —Marcia Richards Suelzer, senior writer and analyst at Wolters Kluwer, an international information provider; based in Riverwoods, Illinois

“These tools will become standard over time, but there’s a shade of grey here: A lot of people won’t use them or use them properly. The connected household will not become the model of efficiency, because many people will chose other goals. The technology won’t hold us back. We will hold ourselves back.” —Peter Mitchell, chief creative officer at Salter-Mitchell, a company that builds behavior-change programs, relying heavily on inventing digital products; based in Alexandria, Virginia

“The poor we will always have with us, and these kinds of technologies will still be restricted to the rich end of the digital divide. They’re simply not pervasive enough yet.” —Rich Tatum, research analyst for Zondervan, a religious publishing house; based in Grand Rapids, Michigan

“We’ve had smart technology available for houses for years, but only the rich and a few ‘technophiles’ have adopted any of it. 2020 is less than a decade away and we have a long way to go. We can’t even get the cost of solar panels down. It requires leadership with long-term vision to bring about such things.” —Paul McFate, an online communications specialist based in Provo, Utah

“The home of 2020 will have slight improvements. The home of 2035 will have many more.” —D. Moore, formerly worked at a government agency, currently unemployed and notes that the reason is “advances in technology - the machines have taken over”; based in Atlanta, Georgia

“The new technologies will make a major impact on the household. We already have refrigerators that alert homeowners when something is needed.” —Arthur Asa Berger, professor emeritus of communications, retired from San Francisco State University, San Francisco, California.

“People are creatures of habit, especially when it comes to analog behaviors. The true Home of the Future would have to recognize that and be painless to operate to become a reality. It, not the end user, has to do virtually all of the work.” —Pat McKenna, president at MojoWeb Productions LLC; teacher of web design, principles of e-marketing, and social media for small businesses at Waukesha County Technical College in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

“Currently the development of smart systems is being done in an ad hoc basis. We need to significantly increase funding of basic research that explores the issues involved in integrating microprocessors into electromechanical systems. These systems will have unique properties that differ from those of its individual components. Understanding these properties is essential for optimizing the value and minimizing the failures of these systems.” —David Salisbury, senior science writer at Vanderbilt University; based in Nashville, Tennessee

“Diffusion of innovation suggests adoption is slow until the required base adoption percentage is reached; it takes time.” —Jeanne Brittingham, principal at Brittingham Associates; former consultant for USDA, USEPA; based in Tryon, North Carolina

“If such systems exist in 2020, they will be a boon to consumers looking to save money and help the environment. The climate will still be changing, putting more stress on consumers and the environment. And the rising cost of diminishing oil resources will provide the most significant impetus for consumers to want to control their energy use.” —Lisa E. Phillips, senior research analyst at eMarketer, Inc., based in New York City

“Connected homes will gain traction, but only when there are devices that are easy to use, easy to network, and basically plug and play. The bigger question will be how is the hub controlled? Will it be via a home-based computer, a set-top media box, a black box, or a purely cloud-based system? Expect large battles for companies to try to own this space by offering free or subsidized devices and/or apps. Will it be your phone company, your cable/satellite company, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Apple, Cisco, or some other big player?” —Steven Swimmer, self-employed consultant; previously worked in digital leadership roles for a major broadcast TV network and a major museum; based in Los Angeles, California

“As a professional trained in architecture and community planning, I have been hearing about smart buildings and smart cities since the 1970s (and probably earlier). Large or complex buildings that require software-controlled systems already have them, and to some extent elements of smart systems have already been adopted on a smaller scale in residential construction. So we see programmable thermostats, motion-control lighting and plumbing, and home energy auditing. Since new construction only represents a small proportion of our housing stock, we will continue to see incremental adoption. This low level of adoption is due more in part to resident cost/benefit analysis, convenience, and sense of values than because of distrust. The building industry is one of the slowest to adopt new materials and technology. I’m not expecting to see major changes unless the cost of energy gets to a point where it really hurts the pocketbook of most consumers or unless building codes start requiring new technologies.” —Julia Takahashi, editor and publisher at Diisynology.com; based in Santa Fe, New Mexico

“How many flying cars do you own? How many of us use the computer as a recipe database in our kitchen (a la, computer ads of the 1970s)? Technological utopia will never exist—we’re too human!” —Tom Rule, an educator, technology consultant, and musician based in Macon, Georgia

“Consumer household appliances are becoming less reliable with more planned obsolescence to promote more frequent replacement. This will work against consumer willingness to purchase appliances with greater intelligence for environmental management. Currently, such products are upscale status symbols that usually are not as cost effective as older technologies, and this trend may continue for another nine years or more. The segment of the population that is highly environmentally sensitive and willing to make compromises in their behaviors will continue to be a political activist minority with critics providing empirical evidence of excessive exuberance among ‘greenies.’ If economic recovery in developed societies continues to be slower than expected, greenies and green products that cost more money than non-green will likely remain a relatively small niche market, unless there are governmental requirements that intervene. The current political climate appears to be moving in the opposite direction after a brief taste of recent nanny-state policies.” —James A. Danowski, professor of communication, Northwestern University, Chicago, Illinois; co-editor of Handbook of Communication and Technology; program planner for European Intelligence and Security Informatics 2011 and Open-Source Intelligence and Web Mining, 2011

“Housing consumes 40% of our energy. We simply have to use all that energy in a smarter way. Our existing building materials are more or less up to the task already, so the main challenge is to connect all the pieces in intelligent ways. As prices of intelligent house systems decrease and energy prices continue to rise, individual house owners will consider this essential.” —Charlie Breindahl, part-time lecturer, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen Business School, Danish Centre for Design Research, Copenhagen, Denmark

“People are becoming more trusting.” —Stephen Hoover, lecturer at Minghsin University of Science and Technology, Taiwan; lives in Chunan, Taiwan, and works in Hsinchu, Taiwan

“A combination of legislation and economic advantage make this inevitable. The rapid spread of home Wi-Fi and other data infrastructure is the best indicator that homes will get smarter.” —Stephen Masiclat, associate professor of communications, Syracuse University; based in Syracuse, New York

“Realistically, given the state of the housing market and its likely continuation until 2013, 2014, I don’t see a massive rush to get to the Home of the Future.” —Heywood Sloane, principal at CogniPower, a consulting business; based in Wayne, Pennsylvania

“I’m less inclined to think that the resistance will be so much consumer distrust as most households do not have the time to deal with the introduction of yet another technology. The trend may be seen in workplaces and new large apartment complexes, but the majority of people do not live in these and retrofitting is not likely to be feasible in many cases.” —Suzanne England, professor of social work, New York University, New York City

“We must remember the predicted trend of ‘cocooning’ made by futurist Faith Popcorn: People will want to draw inward and shut out the larger world. People have individual preferences and individual needs. The whole idea of digital technology and social media is to liberate individual taste and decisions. This Home of the Future is actually one more liberal recycling of a bad idea from the 1930s. Where’s the zeppelin factory already?” —Martin D. Owens Jr., attorney specializing in the law of Internet, interactive gaming, and related issues; co-author of Internet Gaming Law; associate editor for Gaming Law Review and Economics magazine; based in Sacramento, California

“Scenario one will still only apply to an early adopter minority by 2020.” —Vanessa Clark, marketing director for Mobiflock and Twokats Communications and freelance journalist; Cape Town, South Africa

“It is only a matter of time. Under IPv4, we had reached capacity for Internet addresses. Under IPv6, that capacity has been increased by a magnitude of many-fold. So appliances with addresses become more realistic. The only question, then, becomes one of bandwidth capacity.” —Michael Castengera, senior lecturer at the Grady College of Journalism, 26 University of Georgia, and president at Media Strategies and Tactics, Inc.; based in Athens, Georgia

“The connected household is using technology to monitor security and to control energy usage. Programmable thermostats are commonplace. The next step is being able to control the thermostat at a distance with a cell phone app. Other applications that seem not too far-fetched are: control of the water heater, sprinkler system, Internet bandwidth. This will require more robust systems than we have now.” —Joan Lorden, provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs, University of North Carolina-Charlotte

“We must not confuse ‘smart devices’ with ‘building of tomorrow’ since having installed the first does not make us more ‘green.’ In general, people make use of technology and it is not always fixed if it is correct but if it serves their purposes. In developing countries, concepts such as recycling, pollution control, energy conservation, green building, etc., depend more on the cost of environmental awareness. As the Home of the Future something with high costs and a housing shortage exists, its implementation in those countries will be delayed by several decades.” —Daniel Ferrari, system analyst based in São Paulo, Brazil

“By 2020, the impact of dwindling energy and other resources will focus attention on the use of technology to better manage the consumption of those resources. The 1964 World’s Fair General Electric Home of the Future showed the evolution of how we go about our day-to-day activities and how technology played a role. Fast forward to 2020 and technology will be the backbone of our day-to-day activities through even smarter systems.” —Stephen Schur, director of online communication at Ramapo College of New Jersey; co-founder of the New Jersey Higher Education Webmaster group; lives in Shawnee on Delaware, Pennsylvania, and works in Mahwah, New Jersey

“New homes may have more IP-enabled devices, if they are affordable. Most people in older homes find ways to be economical or sustainable when they replace appliances, windows, doors, etc. Otherwise, we live with what we have until those choices are not available to us. I would welcome solar energy, but I live under eighteen large white oak trees with their canopy over the house, plus the expense is too great to retrofit. Recently I changed Internet carriers and they wanted to sell me a bundle with TV, Internet, and phone. However, the phone would require people coming into my home and drilling through walls to put new cables, a new ID box for 911 calls, and taking about four hours to do all this wiring and drilling and adding. I said no when my other phone carrier was already installed, and I did not have to make a change in my lifestyle. That said, there are securities that turn on and off lights, motion detectors, safety features turning off appliances, that make my home safer.” —Leara Rhodes, associate professor of journalism and international communications at the University of Georgia; based in Athens, Georgia

“I’m not hopeful that this innovation will be fully implemented by 2020. We’ll still be experimenting with the smart systems that help us manage our energy consumption.” —Lee Hurd, senior user-experience designer for the State of California; based in Sacramento, California

“I fully expect my Home of the Future to contain smart systems—the only things holding back this concept are: 1) security issues 2) pricing. Once the technologies become more common, and therefore cheaper and easier to implement/install, I’m confident this will be the norm of the future.” —Sabeen H. Ahmad, new media director, Brodie Collins Consulting; co-editor, Divanee.com, a consulting business based in Washington, DC

“The Home of the Future will turn up eventually, but not by 2020. To give you just one data point, I make no use of extra features of the smart electricity meter and some new appliances in my house. That’s because my power company won’t give me cheaper off-peak power without an increase in peak power changes big enough to wipe out all savings. Oh, and they believe off-peak starts at 11 p.m. We haven’t yet taken any useful step towards changes in the way resource consumption is managed.” —Donald Neal, senior research programmer at the University of Waikato, based in Hamilton, New Zealand

“Once they see how they will benefit and the cost is low enough, people will happily adopt smart systems. Lack of consumer trust will not be an issue. Most people all have microprocessors in their toasters and expose all kinds of details about their life on Facebook.” —Mark J. Franklin, director of computing services and software engineer, Thayer School of Engineering, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire

“This is a no-brainer. Of course, we’re going to figure this one out to the benefit of consumers and businesses.” —David Akin, national bureau chief, Sun Media; technology reporter and editor, based in Toronto and Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

“Smart systems require a lot of new structures. Nine years is not enough time to put all that in place.” —Anders Fagerjord, professor of media and communication, the University of Oslo; based in Oslo, Norway

“Given the increasing costs associated with producing energy, power companies have a strong incentive to help consumers better manage their consumption. Furthermore, consumers have little reason to resist. The rollout of these technologies is likely to move forward with some speed. One factor that could dramatically undermine these efforts, though, would be a coordinated cyber attack that focuses on what is likely to be a highly vulnerable infrastructure. If this were to occur, I expect uptake of the technology would come to a grinding halt.” —R. Kelly Garrett, assistant professor at The Ohio State University School of Communication; based in Columbus, Ohio

“Smart systems will fail to catch on due to the misalignment between users and beneficiaries. In all too many cases, the beneficiaries are utilities or large companies, rather than the consumers in whose homes the devices are installed.” —Sean Mead, director of solutions architecture, valuation, and analytics for Mead, Mead & Clark, Interbrand; member of the Internet and Electronic Commerce Committee, 1997-present; lecturer at Indiana Continuing Legal Education Forum; based in Dayton, Ohio

“The Home of the Future is a consistent myth of American culture, part of the lure of an unattainably rosy future produced by technology. Consider the ebullient scenarios of the 1950s, ones that posited a push-button future, effortless housework, instant communication, and mind-reading appliances. Remember Monsanto’s ‘House of the Future’ at Disneyland, built in the 1950s but still largely a pipe dream for most American homes—and Disney’s utopic ‘Progress City’ at the conclusion of General Electric’s ‘Carousel of Progress’ attraction, laughable today in its unabashed embrace of technology as humanity's savior. Things just don’t work that way. While technology advances, its initial costs are so high that it retards widespread adoption. Smart home technology (X10) has existed for decades and remains unknown except to a few techno-nerds. Further, technology brings its own negatives into the environment, requiring scarce resources (rare earths, for example), polluting, and even dangerous assemblies and so on. I’d like a ‘great big beautiful tomorrow’ just as much as anyone, but it’s just a ‘wish upon a star.’” —Dave Rogers, managing editor of Yahoo Kids; based in Santa Monica, California

“It’s getting closer, although we’ll also see a lot of centralized efforts from government (e.g., reduce and reuse) and utilities (e.g., power use) in order to address issues of capacity (landfill, power infrastructure growth/maintenance) that will drive smart-use systems more than in-house devices.” —Caroline Haythornthwaite, director and professor at the School of Library, Archival, and Information Studies of the University of British Columbia, based in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

“There will always be techno-geeks who will use these kinds of products just because they can. However, it will be sky-high energy prices that will be the big driver for the mass deployment of these kinds of systems. Once it costs a noticeable amount to run the heat for two hours extra when the house is empty, or turn off the freezer for a few hours in the heat of the day, then smart systems will break through.” —Matt Minahan, consultant in organization design and development; adjunct professor at Johns Hopkins University and American University; previously a senior management consultant with The World Bank; based in Silver Spring, Maryland

“Things like electronic thermostats will become better and perhaps easier to use. But, in general, people are very resistant to the idea of home appliances that talk and make decisions. The Home of the Future is a science fiction fantasy, not a widely held aspiration.” —Lawrence Kestenbaum, founder and owner of PoliticalGraveyard.com, a database of US political history from the 1700s to the present; a pioneer in making historical data available online; based in Ann Arbor, Michigan

“The deployment of IPv6 is one development that will make an increasingly important contribution to digitization of the home, affecting domestic appliances, personal effects, cars, electronics, clothing, and many other items. But enabling this kind of radical connectivity is a far cry from making our home environments smarter. I see several barriers to the advent of the smart home by 2020. As with any major technical development, the complexities facing the end-user will be a primary factor. Vast numbers of mainstream consumers have real difficulty setting up and maintaining a home computer network or home entertainment system. These difficulties are usually surmounted when the consumer sees the benefits—being able to work from home or watch movies on a big screen. The smart home benefits tend to be less tangible and less valued. We all want to save the environment, as long as the costs and inconvenience are not too high. Saving money on utility bills is not a sure-fire winner unless consumers can readily connect their changed behavior to the savings—and the savings show up clearly and regularly. Utilities like electric power companies have to make major investments in research, marketing, outreach programs, and monitoring technologies to persuade their customers to conserve power. Even if some stakeholders are successful, there is no guarantee the systems being deployed will be interoperable and use common standards. Indeed, some suppliers, like incumbent ISPs, may have a vested interest in keeping their existing services proprietary and separate from other initiatives. This reluctance to participate in a joint effort would not be surprising in locales where there is intense intermodal competition between cable multiple system operators and incumbent telephone carriers.” —David Ellis, director of communication studies, York University, Toronto, and author of the first Canadian book on the roots of the Internet; his blog is titled Life on the Broadband Internet; based in Toronto, Canada

“While of enormous promise, smart systems in homes face considerable obstacles, including slow replacement cycles for household appliances, a lack of standards across technologies, and questionable consumer demand for these products.” —Robert Renaud, vice president for library and information services and CIO at Dickinson College; member, EDUCAUSE Advanced Core Technologies Initiative Design Group; based in Carlisle, Pennsylvania

“I hope for the former, but we seem to exist in the latter. The bigger issue will be cost and ease of moving over to the new system, especially considering the current economy.” —Liza Potts, assistant professor of digital humanities, Michigan State University; a leader of ACM's SIGDOC; formerly worked as a user-interface program manager for Microsoft in the early 2000s building early Web apps for them; based in East Lansing, Michigan

“Both posed items are partly correct. As long as technical infrastructure devices and services are called smart, we are indulging in marketing catch phrases. The question is: What are we getting smart about? In almost every smart house I’ve seen (I’m an architect/planner), there is no Internet connection in the carport/garage, which is needed to monitor and manage energy flow in/out for electric vehicles and as the ‘first-mile’ piece of the so-called smart energy grid. The unsustainable economy of tech consumerism is currently the primary context for the smart home.” —Richard Lowenberg, director, broadband planner 1st-Mile Institute; network activist since early 1970s; prepared State of New Mexico’s “Integrated Strategic Broadband Initiative”; integrates rural community planning with network initiatives globally; based in Santa Fe, New Mexico

“In general, the ability of an individual to monitor and understand their own behavior can lead to significant change and improvement of outcomes. However, having a smart-grid device in my house, I find it much more difficult to make meaningful changes and be confident that they will have a significant effect on the outcome. If these systems are to work as intended, they will need to be much better designed.” —Peter Pinch, director of technology for WGBH, a public media company—including television, radio, and online programming—based in Boston, Massachusetts

“Eight years is a pretty near-horizon, so this may be a premature choice but we will be on the way.” —Jim Hokom, Web manager, Crossroads Urban Center, a non-profit organization; based in Salt Lake City, Utah

“These smart systems will be forced upon consumers in the same way the barcode was.” —Jesse Drew, associate professor of technocultural studies, at the University of California-Davis; based in Davis, California

“The meaning of ‘most’ is an issue. Given a slow economy and a slowdown in housing construction (the turnover of the stock), IP embedding will depend more on retrofitting systems into existing homes. Without a direct benefit like cable TV or residential Internet, diffusion and uptake are likely to be gradual. Implementation via services already present in the home (e.g., energy management) is likely to happen faster than mere convenience services, since there is an interested party in the service provider (various utilities). In this period, maturation of the technology and learning from pilot and other early uses will inform broader implementation later on.” —Marjory S. Blumenthal, associate provost at Georgetown University; adjunct staff officer at RAND Corporation; previously director of the Computer Science and Telecommunications Board of the National Academies; based in Washington, DC

“The pace of technology adoption is as fast as the pace of technological progress. Smart technologies are evolving at a swift pace, and already it is not a far-fetched idea to think of products such as refrigerators that ‘talk’ directly to the greengrocer. In another nine years such devices and technologies would be commonplace. However, gaps in economic progress between income groups within a nation and between regions across continents would be a limiting factor in the adoption of smart technologies universally. The Home of the Future will co-exist with technologically removed shanties for sometime still after 2020 due to political and economic imbalances.” —Sivasubramanian Muthusamy, president of the Internet Society-India Chennai; founder and CEO of InternetStudio, a Web development and IT services company; based in Erode, Tamilnadu, India

“The major driver here is the economy and governmental incentives. The cost of the smart systems now is far less than the money spent on the energy it takes to make a home comfortable. The government will step in due to energy shortages across the advanced world to foster the growth of smart systems.” —Keith Davis, team lead for the S6 Community of Purpose—working on a knowledge management initiative for the Signal Center of Excellence—RLM Communications, Military Communications Expert Organization, US Army; based in Grovetown, Georgia

“Smart appliances will make their way out into urban and well-to-do populations first, and will slowly be adopted in other segments of the population as older appliances fail or second-hand versions become available. Particular breakout items—which either save people much more money or are much more attractive or fun to use—have the potential to be adopted more quickly and widely. But this will depend in part on price point. The end result will be not so much ‘Homes of the Future’ as a mix of forward-looking and aging items that may not be networked together.” —Jessica Clark, media strategist, for the Association of Independents in Radio; senior fellow, Center for Social Media, American University; media policy fellow, New America Foundation; based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

“Smart systems will be used in some—but not all—homes. It requires a certain education and even mass marketing to get folks to use it. I do not believe the issue is one of distrust, but exposure. There’s oftentimes the feeling that some sort of reprisal must happen to make change. For instance, if there is such a network where all homes in a neighborhood are wired and then it’s determined that one house on the block is keeping the entire neighborhood from getting a break on their energy bill, there will be increased focus on that homeowner to do better—for the good of the neighborhood. That is a positive and a negative at the same time. Negative—everyone knows your energy use—and positive—one person’s action (or inaction) could benefit everyone.” —Lilyn H. Hester, media relations, PR, and social media for Capstrat Inc., a strategic communications firm in Raleigh, North Carolina; based in Cedar Grove, North Carolina

“The impact on the environment coupled with acceptance driven by these tools being the norm in the corporate environment will fuel public acceptance at the household level.” —J. Clarke Price, president and CEO of the Ohio Society of CPAs; based in Dublin, Ohio

“Smart systems save time and money, and with everything and everyone becoming more interconnected and integrated, the big ah-ha will be that buying back time in one’s days—with lifestyle and quality of living as the new priority—is the win-win. Realizing our time on the planet is the most finite resource of all, The TED video ‘Collaborative Consumption’ suggests trends away from consumerism and toward the ‘making of life’ that is satisfying.” —Frank Odasz, president Lone Eagle Consulting, a company specializing in Internet training for rural, remote, and indigenous learners; speaker on rural 21st century workforce readiness, rural e-commerce and telework strategies, and online learning for all; based near Dillon, Montana

“Smart systems are here to stay. They are such useful tools in balancing the energy market’s swings that we cannot avoid their complete adoption. I would not, however, say that this will result in some utopian future—one of the big mistakes of past futurists has been their proclivity to predict either utopia or doom. Smart systems are a tool. They will assist with evening out supply and reallocating pricing, but don’t expect a ground shift beyond economics.” —David A.H. Brown, executive director, Brown Governance Inc., a consulting business based in Toronto, Canada

“The big question is, can household consumption of electricity and water become public information. Just like home sale value, can your neighbor know how much electricity you use? If yes, developers could mine the data for a variety of interesting uses (alerts, heat maps of biggest users, etc.). And public pressure just might change habits.” —Tim Olson, vice president for digital media and education at KQED, a public media company—including television, radio, and online programming—based in San Francisco, California

“This will happen sometime, but not much by 2020 because 1) current economic conditions mean that people won’t spend money to do this in existing homes, which are the large majority of homes, and 2) most people won’t believe that advantages of smart systems are worth the fuss and bother of installing them.” —Rebecca Leet, principal, Rebecca Leet & Associates, a consulting business based in Washington, DC

“It will take longer than eight or nine years for this to come to pass. It’s more likely that smart systems will take hold by 2020 than that they will utterly fail by then.” —Eric Geller, social media director for TheForce.Net, a fan-run Star Wars website based in Washington, DC

“As the utility companies make it easier to do (and cost effective to do so), the Home of the Future is a bit more a reality now than I would have thought ten years ago. Add in the gamification pieces, and the potential is there to really see change in this area.” —Sarah Vital, reference and instruction librarian at Saint Mary's College of California; based in the San Francisco Bay area, California

“Complexity is the main roadblock here. It seems like early IP-enabled systems required their own specialized communication networks, which increased cost and complexity. With the approaching ubiquity of Wi-Fi and the increased use of smartphones and the data plans that come with them, connected devices have more ways to connect. Prices and ease-of-use will reach levels that lead to broad adoption, since these devices will help consumers save money. Money is the number people care about, much more than kilowatt-hours or gallons. Devices that make a clear impact there, while only making minor noticeable adjustments to daily life, will succeed.” —Nathan Swartzendruber, technology education at SWON Libraries Consortium; based in Cincinnati, Ohio, USA

“Technological advances in devices, communications, and how we consume natural resources will have a significantly positive impact on our overall consumption of natural resources. The rate of these improvements, however, will be influenced considerably from the support, or lack thereof, from our federal and state governments.” —Jack Spain, principal at Spain Business Advisors; based in Cary, North Carolina

“As energy prices continue to climb ever higher it will create the financial imperative necessary for consumers to try to understand, and hence control, energy consumption. This will be the driving force behind more smart systems in the home, enabled by the rise of the Internet of things and the smart phone. The legacy infrastructure that currently controls energy delivery may well be the biggest stumbling block, but once that becomes smarter it will enable new levels of consumer confidence, and hence desire for control over their energy consumption. This, in turn, will lead the energy companies to compete in this area, offering ever smarter systems, creating a cycle that will accelerate and eventually spread into other services.” —Rich Osborne, senior IT innovator at the University of Exeter, based in Exeter, UK

“Design expertise and user-centered, task-based design is what is needed to create products that successfully integrate AI and communications technology. The use of smart thermostats, for example, will be critical to managing municipal power resources.” —Susan Price, CEO and chief Web strategist at Firecat Studio LLC; TEDxSanAntonio organizer; Austin FreeNet cofounder; Knowbility board member; based in San Antonio, Texas

“This is already happening. I don’t see too many barriers to integrating electronics within homes and even between homes. Consumer trust is short lived, easily altered, and not a particularly effective barrier.” —Dana Levin, student at Drexel University College of Medicine; based in Philadelphia and New York

“Unlike other parts of the information marketplace, the home environment is fairly resistant to radical change, making the second scenario the most likely one by 2020. Appliances and other parts of a home’s infrastructure tend to be replaced at a much slower rate than in corporate environments because they are limited by the financial capacity of the household, currently at decade-long lows, and because the machines themselves are much slower to wear out. Political resistance to raising the cost of household resource consumption also eliminates much of the economic incentive for conservation in the home. Given these forces, inertia reigns in this part of the marketplace.” —Morley Winograd, senior fellow, USC's Annenberg Center for Communication Leadership and Policy; based in Arcadia, California

“My 84-year-old father has an LCD display in his kitchen in the United Kingdom that measures the cost of his electricity use in pennies. I would like an energy consumption device, too, over the surprise I get when I open my Pepco bill and learn that I have spent too many therms or watts, measures I do not fully understand. What I do understand is dollars, and I want a way to budget my energy spending. Energy monitoring tools are hard to come by in the United States, but I believe they are coming. Whether or not they come fast enough for 2020 will depend on whether energy companies are mandated or incentivized to adopt them or if consumers demand them. More education is needed about what is possible.” —Stephen Murphy, senior vice president for business development and digital strategy at IQ Solutions; based in Rockville, Maryland 

“The key to the embracing of smart systems is to provide cost savings that is measurable and appreciable to the consumers. The availability of override is also key, preventing the disease of lack of control over home systems.” —Jean Westcott, co-author of Digitally Daunted: The Consumer’s Guide to Taking Control of the Technology in Your Life; based in Washington, DC

“How do we know when we’ve reached this pinnacle of efficiency? According to Amos Hawley, humans have an infinite capability to think and create—so although we will continue to progress, I don’t think we will reach the Home of the Future. Using pop culture estimates from 20th century films, we’re pretty far away from the hovercrafts they thought we would have by now, unless we are blessed with a Jetson prototype beyond the animations.” —Jeniece Lusk, assistant research director with an Atlanta, Georgia, information technology company

“We are headed down this trend; however, it will not happen by 2020. These systems will be expensive. The current economic climate is not conducive to the implementation of these smart systems. People must be able to afford it. This is seen as a luxury and not a necessary expense. It’s very similar to recycling. If people have to pay for it, they’re not going to do it unless there is some incentive for them or they really truly do care about the environment.” —Katrina Griffin, e-marketing strategist for Medseek; based in Peoria, Illinois

“Smart vs. trust—trust wins out!!” —Stan Stark, consultant at Heuroes Consulting; based in Houston, Texas

“Failure of embedded smart systems has never failed due to consumer trust issues. They have failed because 1) they have a significant, detrimental impact on the almost-constant No. 1 criteria for consumers—cost, and 2) they have consistently offered poor to very poor user experiences in their past implementations. As long as proprietary interests are involved in the creation of the underlying components such as switches, outlets, spigots, etc., there will never be acceptance. It is the same phenomenon encountered when any industry standard turns out to be either controlled by or reliant upon the intellectual property of one or more standards body members. It is quite possible that closed systems, such as that which would be produced by Apple, will see some success in addressing the second problem listed above. It is only when a fully open implementation that mimics the user experience of a successful closed system (or perhaps beats them to the punch) will the first problem be sufficiently addressed and the public’s acceptance garnered. This will clearly be a top-down (socioeconomic) acceptance trail, as the strength of the economic inhibitor is highly correlated to disposable income.” —Rob Scott, chief technology officer and intelligence liaison at Nokia; based in Sunnyvale, California

“The use of smart systems in business and industry is well under way and will continue as a logical outgrowth of the goals of those activities. I think use in the home will also rise dramatically in this time frame, although it may well be in industrialized nations other than the United States. Early, deep, and widespread adoption will be dependent on government incentives until mass adoption lowers cost. It seems European and Asian nations are more inclined to move forward in this arena, while the United States is plagued with a large contingent of anti-science deniers and anti-government dogmatists. I hope I am wrong.” —Tom Franke, chief information officer for the University System of New Hampshire; based in Durham, New Hampshire

“As resources are becoming more scarce and expensive, we will have no choice but to look at ways to manage the consumption of resources and make our homes and businesses more efficient. However, the smart systems will need to be affordable to install and easy to use. We will not have the same financial growth in investments, raises, and bonuses as previous generations, so we will need to be more creative on how to make the most of our finances.” —Veronica Longenecker, assistant vice president of information technologies, Millersville University, based in Millersville, Pennsylvania

“No, we won’t have developed the necessary commercial infrastructure to take full advantage of smart systems in just nine years. I don’t think the issue of consumer trust will be the stumbling block. It will be the need for more sophisticated delivery systems, and I think we will, in due course, develop those delivery systems. By 2020, they may exist in some of the more affluent metropolitan areas, but they won’t reach us here in the outback until much later.” —Nikki Reynolds, director of instructional technology services, Hamilton College; based in Clinton, New York

>> Click here to return to the 2012 Future of the Internet survey homepage
>> Click here to read anonymous responses to this question
>> Click here to view or download the PDF of the official report

 

A project of the Elon University School of Communications
All rights reserved. Contact us at predictions@elon.edu