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Amazon, Google, and other Internet of Things companies have been feeding us the idea of the smart home for years. This paradise-like ecosystem that is sustainable, safe, automated, and self-updating. While most of us are waiting for these commercial behemoths to roll out this vision – others are taking it upon themselves to update their house with AI.

Tinkerers and makers across the globe are creating these quirky household AI gadgets that actually have a lot of character. They have that pre-commercial personality.

And I can imagine they all had a blast putting these gadgets together.

The Cat Door

Tired of his indoor-outdoor cat bringing dead animals home, an engineer created a cat door that would block his cat from entry if it was bringing back a dead animal. He trained a computer vision algorithm to identify the common dead animals – birds, mice – attached to an Amazon DeepLens camera. If his cat was identified with prey, the cat door would lock for 15 minutes and he’d get a text message.

Personalized Entrance Music

If you’ve ever dreamed of walking into a room with your own theme song, then Doorjam is the product for you. It’s a boombox that emits an iBeacon signal (basically can recognize when a specific, programmed app is in range), and plays the song you’ve decided on. A pretty simple way to feel like you’re on a sitcom. I could see this upgrading over the years via facial recognition.

The Face Safe

One of the biggest conundrums about having a safe in your house is: “Where do you put the key?” Well, the folks at Adafruit decided it would be better if your face is the key since you can never lose that. So, they rigged a “treasure box” to open via facial recognition. Now I wonder which home-safe manufacturer will bite this idea?

Magic Mirror

Driven by boredom and a random idea, Micheal Teeuw designed a magic mirror that would collect and display everything he needed to know about the upcoming day – agenda, weather, play some music, etc. This guy took the idea a step further and integrated it with Amazon Alexa, basically creating a smart mirror.

Voice-Activated Shades

Along similar lines, this YouTuber made a dumb object smart. Specifically, he turned his $60 Walmart blinds into a voice-enabled masterpiece that will open, close, raise, and lower on command. Although they’re not extremely intelligent, I could see this being advanced even further via some solar sensors, sleep-pattern analysis, etc.

Spookiest Bedtime Stories

Even though your kid is asking for a spooky bedtime story, you may want to avoid the work of the Nightmare Machine unless they really want a nightmare. Some MIT makers basically created the ultimate AI machine for generating horror imagery and it’s very convincing.

Watch How You Walk

One of the best indicators of health and wellness, believe it or not, is your gait – which is basically your stride. A company called WiGait has created an in-home gait monitoring system that can be used to alert authorities when someone has fallen, notify you when you’ve been sedentary too long, and also correct bad behaviors such as posture or walking style.

Following in their footsteps, I actually had a few ideas of my own.

One, an intelligent trash sorter that could recognize whatever I was about to throw out and redirect it to the correct receptacle – trash, organic compostables, recyclable. (Wow, I sound lazy.)

Two, an image recognition camera that can be placed inside an oven to detect exactly when my frozen pizza is perfectly cooked. Maybe if Domino’s outsources their vast image database of cooked pizzas, then this could actually become a reality.

Although these all seem like silly ideas, honestly, they’re the type of ideas that get copied and mass-produced by major companies like Bosch, Panasonic, KitchenAid, etc. Anyone of these could become the next “Smart Toothbrush” – a rather innocuous idea that becomes a commercial success.

To be perfectly honest, these tinkerers are giving us a better, clearer vision than Amazon or Google Home of what Smart Homes will actually incorporate in the future.

They’re the modern-day Leonardo Da Vincis – inventing the wild ideas that come to mind. And I admire them for doing so.

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