3 REASONS WHY THE FUTURE WILL BE MINIMAL
by B.J. Murphy
Even though it's been increasing in popularity as of late, this lifestyle choice of "minimalist living" is still deemed somewhat fringe throughout many developed regions of the world. And yet, as a result of certain emerging technologies, I believe minimalist living and minimalist homes will likely take over a majority of peoples' lives.
Today, most people crowd their homes with a bunch of various different items - largely as a means of self-expression and serves as a testament to one's individuality. However, this is already changing to a certain extent.
1. Smart Home Tech.
It all started with the rise of smart home technologies. What was originally a dream only realized throughout sci-fi literature has transformed into a highly successful, open, and international market. At an affordable price, the average person is now capable of retrofitting their homes with devices that are connected to what is known as the Internet of Things (IoT).
Thanks to companies like Google and Amazon, we've begun embedding intelligent operations into our homes that enhance the minimalist lifestyle. No matter where you are, with a single voice command we're able to change the temperature in individual rooms, open and close the blinds, dim or change the color of nearby lights, and be alerted when someone is at the door.
In the near future, your home will become so intelligent that it'll feel like a living creature in and of itself. You'll be in bed, and the second that you wake up the blinds will open, your favorite radio station will start playing, the coffee pot downstairs will begin brewing, and the shower will turn on and start heating up. While this won't necessarily minimalize the number of items in your home, it will minimalize your day-to-day actions while inside it.
2. Personal Robotics
Then again, you can't have a smart home without some robots running around the house as well. Personal robots are another sci-fi turned reality, largely thanks to companies like iRobot. Whether they're vacuuming our carpet, washing the wooden or tiled floor, cleaning the pool, or clipping the weeds out of our garden, robots have finally invaded the everyday household.
We've all dreamed of having our very own Rosie from The Jetsons. And while personal robots haven't necessarily reached that level of sophistication just yet, we're pretty damn close. Automotive company Toyota recently developed a personal robot for a U.S. Army vet who's paralyzed below the neck. Given that he has no functional control of his arms or legs, this robot has practically become both to help "regain some independence and improve the quality of his life."
As these robots begin to increase in intelligence and decrease in price, more and more homes will begin integrating personal robots for various different reasons. In the future, these robots will clean the dishes, walk the dog, babysit the kids, and complete any other chore you ask of it. They will effectively minimalize the amount of time we spend in getting things done around the house.
Then again, personal robots won't just occupy your physical space, but will also enter the virtual realm as well. Which brings us to...
3. Mixed Reality
Fifteen to twenty years ago, it was quite common for people to dedicate a single space in their home to nothing but their collection of VHS tapes or DVDs. Today, however, that space has been freed as a direct result of proliferated digital entertainment and streaming services, e.g. Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, etc.
In other words, the digitization of our film and television entertainment has consequently minimalized our lives and living space.
Quite frankly, the idea that this won't also occur for nearly everything else in your home is a bit naive. With the coming emergence of mixed reality (MR), we're going to witness what some in tech-based academia refer to as the "Digitization of Everything" (DoE), of which will be interconnected and consequently made increasingly intelligent via the IoT.
"The Digitization of Experience is the next frontier. We will not manufacture things in the future. We will simply digitize our experience." - Gray Scott
Most people today can afford a relatively nice looking television set - 30-50 inches in length, flat screen, HD or LCD, etc. And yet, that is likely going to be the first thing to go due to the DoE via MR. Why ruin your walls with mounts for your TV when you can instead project a virtual TV (any size you want, whatever shape you want, and fully accessible to any show or film your heart desires) onto your wall using MR? Easy: you wouldn't; you'd choose the better alternative, which also happens to be the minimalist alternative.
Other than things like your refrigerator, bed, washer & dryer, toilet, shower (or bathtub), and an air-conditioning unit - you know, your basic needs - nothing else in your home that you clutter around you today will actually need to remain there due to the proliferation of MR.
By this time, minimalist living and living spaces will have taken over. And we'd quickly realize that we're happier for doing so.