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Pop Culture & the Smart Home

Can you imagine, that people were absolutely blown away by the first commercially released TVs way back in 1929? Small, fuzzy, barely comprehensible images limited to the centre of the screen, laughable sound quality. It sounds much more like it'd be a horror story for many of us.

Thankfully, over the years we have had advancements in home entertainment systems (including TVs). Going beyond that, we have seen an evolution through smart home technology with exciting developments that show no signs of stopping or slowing down.

But how did this trend towards smart home technology come about?

Rising Interest in Smart Homes Across Singapore

In the last few years, interest in smart technology has steadily climbed in Singapore. Studies predict that close to a million homes in Singapore will be smart by 2025. With an estimated 28% household penetration rate, the number of homes in Singapore that will be utilising smart tech in one way or another is expected to double in the next 4 years.

This increased adoption of smart home tech can be largely attributed to the following:

  1. Digital service providers are able to offer customers not only faster internet connection speeds but also higher bandwidth. This allows more devices to be connected to the network without effects such as lag, which users would normally experience.
  2. The increased interest in smart technology has led to more manufacturers and thought leaders entering the market with products, helping to reduce the costs of setting up a smart home. Think about how much a Plasma TV would have cost you back in the 90s — TVs have only gotten bigger and cheaper!

Where smart home tech all began

Dating as far back as the 1960s, one of the earliest smart tech, the Echo IV, was an incredible step towards “smartness”. Also known as Electronic Computing Home Operator, the Echo IV had quite a few automation tricks up its sleeve. From functioning as an alarm clock to managing the television antenna, this “computer” that could turn the TV off was a revolutionary piece of tech. A year later came the Kitchen Computer, which did not gain traction with the public due to its insensitive tagline ‘If she can only cook as well as Honeywell can compute’ with no units ever sold, smart tech took a backseat for a while, until the smart home trend emerged in the late 90s.

Over the years, we have seen improvements and developments in the tech industry that have allowed for more practical and affordable smart home technology solutions. As a result, there was a resurgence in interest in the 2000s, which continues to this very day. In fact, it’s more well-known now than ever before, possibly due in part to popular culture.

Pop Culture Films that Explore Smart Technology

There’s something about seeing our favourite actors using a particular product that makes us want it too. Brands are fully aware of this and have been using it to their advantage for years. However it is not just a product that can be popularised. An entire industry can be, too. Case in point, smart technology.

Many pop culture films feature smart home tech and gadgets. Here are our favourites:

1. ‘HER’ movie

In the movie ‘HER’, when Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix) arrives home the AI (artificial intelligence) system ‘Samantha’ (voiced by Scarlett Johansson) lights his way to wherever he needs to go without him having to do anything. Instead of waiting for him to voice commands, Samantha pre-empts his needs and is actively involved in his life, talking to him throughout the day and proactively organising his home to make his life more comfortable.

2. Iron Man

Tony Stark’s (Robert Downey Jr.) lavish, sprawling mansion offers impressive views for sure. But what’s really cool about it is Jarvis - an AI system that does everything from controlling various appliances - and robotic arms - while providing real-time updates and advice to Tony when needed.

3. Blade Runner 2049

This film isn’t just full of breath-taking cinematography and an amazing score by Hans Zimmer. The main character Officer K (Ryan Gosling) lives in a futuristic apartment. It is decked out with motion-sensor lights and showers, but AI hologram companion Joi steals the show with her ability to perform more than mere random tasks.

4. Back to the Future Part 2

Back to the Future Part 2 is set in 2015 in an alternate timeline. Marty McFly’s (Michael J Fox) girlfriend Jennifer (Elisabeth Shue) ends up at the McFly household for a brief while. There, we see smart home technology such as a pizza hydrator, voice-activated fruit baskets, TV visors (which look very similar to the current VR headsets), and video-calling via TV.

Myths & Misconceptions about Smart Technology on the Big Screen

While all these references in pop culture are cool and all, it wouldn’t be surprising either if you were a little concerned about what might happen if you were to set up your own smart home. Have you seen Black Mirror on Netflix? However, it’s important to remember that films and TV shows are far from an accurate representation of reality when it comes to smart home tech. So we thought we’d address some common misconceptions shown on the big screen.

1. Machines will turn against you

A trope of much pop culture revolves around AI turning against humans. Terminator, Ex Machina, 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Simpsons — the list is endless.

Thankfully, the AI included in smart home packages only serve to track your preferences and settings. Over time, it’ll be better able to understand your usual routine and make adjustments to your home accordingly.

2. You need to be a tech genius to operate it

While it’s true that Tony Stark is a genius of a smart home user, controlling and updating your own smart home doesn’t require a degree in IT. You’ll most likely be able to sort everything out through one easy-to-use smartphone app!

3. It’s only available to the mega-rich

Several decades ago, it might have been very expensive to set up a smart home in Singapore. Fortunately, thanks to the developments in smart technology, the cost to purchase and install the necessary devices to set up your own connected home has dropped significantly.

As a matter of fact, you can choose your own smart home package from the M1 shop as an add-on to your Fibre Broadband plan! With 4 packages to choose from, turning your dream home into a smart space is easy!

Building a Smart Home Entertainment System You’ll Love

Building a smart home or have plans to watch some of the movies mentioned above? As Singapore’s leading digital services provider, M1 has exactly what you need to set yourself up with an amazing home entertainment system which includes smart technology.

In addition to our 3 fantastic smart home package options - Basic, Deluxe, and Premium - we also offer the ultra-crisp 4K Apple TV device that can turn your not-so-smart TV smart. If you’re after a Netflix subscription in Singapore, we can help with that too! Prefer to binge on your favourite shows on your mobile phone? Check out the M1 shop for the latest releases. So, what are you waiting for? Get on board with the top digital services provider today!