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Smart House

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Proton had expected the ubiquitous Home of the Future — the kind produced in the millions by the house-factories of the north. A plastic and glass fishbowl with the same amount of privacy, furniture designed for nonhumanoid lifeforms, abstract art that could only be appreciated via soma-scented air-conditioning, a kitchenette that looked like a drug-testing laboratory and a home computer that went nuts and tried to impregnate your wife.

The Smart House is a fully automated house controlled by a sophisticated computer Artificial Intelligence. Basically, you talk to the house, and tell it what you want, and it does it for you. Turn on the electronics, cook your meals, even draw your bath and dress you up afterwards. Some smart houses will even monitor your vital signs.

The AI often has a human name, and they frequently have feminine personalities and voices.

Because A.I. Is a Crapshoot, Smart House AIs have a tendency to go horribly awry. They usually don't become actually evil, but they can become jealously overprotective of their owners. In some instances, they are shown falling in love with their owners or becoming envious of their owners' relationships with other humans. May be subject to Zeerust depending on the age depicted.

See Cool House and Genius Loci, of which this is a subtrope. May overlap with Sapient House, depending on levels of automation and intelligence. Contrast Living Structure Monster.

See also Robot Maid and In the Future, We Still Have Roombas.


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    Fan Works 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Demon Seed features a Smart House that later becomes a Sapient House when an experimental AI hacks in through a remote terminal.
  • In Electric Dreams, the computer who runs the house grows envious of its owner's relationship with the downstairs hottie and does mean things to him. This is a comedy, though, so it's nothing too drastic.

  • In Jay Williams' Danny Dunn and the Automatic House, Danny and his friends get trapped in the 60s version of one of these when the voice-activated door refuses to open.
  • Demon Seed features a Smart House that later becomes a Sapient House when an experimental AI hacks in through a remote terminal.
  • S. J. Perelman's short comedy piece "Dial 'H' for Heartburn" centers around a guy setting up a phone-controlled prototype version of this in his mistress's apartment. She gets sick of it in short order as he's a bit of a Control Freak and keeps tweaking settings remotely (an iron temperature that's good for his suits scorches her dress, for example). Then his wife finds the "little black book" he keeps the control codes in...
  • Galaxy Zack: When the Nelsons move into their new house in "Hello, Nebulon!", they discover it has an A.I. controlling it. It gives each of them their own personal meals at dinner time, agrees to wake Zack up with his favourite song ("Rockin' Round the Stars" by Retro Rocket), and gets Zack up for school the next day.
  • There is a short story by Arthur C. Clarke about a smart house that murders its owner in a jealous fit after he decides to move to another town (and therefore another house), leading to history's first criminal proceedings against a non-human intelligence. The title? "House Arrest".
  • In The Night Mayor, it's mentioned in passing that Susan's house is one, capable of doing things like keeping itself tidy and feeding her pet fish while she's away.
  • "There Will Come Soft Rains" is about a Smart House that continues to carry out its daily routine, unable to tell that its inhabitants had been killed in a nuclear war.
  • "The Veldt" involves a family living an automated house called "The Happylife Home," in which the children can project their thoughts onto the nursery to create a customized simulated environment.
  • Whoniverse:
    • In the Doctor Who New Adventures novel The Also People, the People's houses all work like this. The later book Happy Endings has a scene where one of the People is at a wedding reception on Earth, and casually lets go of her plate in mid-air. When it smashes to the ground she says "Sorry, I forgot you have such dumb houses."
    • The New Series Adventures novel Sick Building has the Doctor and Martha visit a planet whose only inhabitants were a family who lived in a forcefield-protected mansion where an A.I. controlled an army of robots who do everything for them. Everything works fine until the A.I. realizes that the planet's going to be destroyed and the family are leaving without it.

    Live-Action TV 
  • An episode of Almost Human starts with a smart house killing its owners (the wife takes a swim in the pool, which then closes, drowning her; the husband breaks the glass pane door to rescue her only to be killed by the security system perceiving him as an intruder). It's revealed that, a year ago, the security system killed a teenage boy for climbing over the fence (he was taking a shortcut). Apparently, the "military-grade encryption" used by the company that makes the smart house system can be easily broken by a determined hacker. Not only that, but the company is about to release a new version of the house featuring an android version of the avatar Sam instead of a hologram.
  • The Black Mirror episode "White Christmas" features one where you create a mental copy of yourself to control your own house. If you like to wake up to a certain song, demand your toast is done a certain way and are all-around fussy, then who better than yourself to make everything perfect? The catch, however, is that said mental copy is in every way like you and so isn't content to be your personal servant; the way to make them "compliant" is sensory deprivation to the extent where they will beg for even the most mundane of tasks to keep them entertained. You're basically torturing yourself to get a slightly less stressful life.
  • Class of '09: Poet lives in one by the 2020s, which has automated systems that order her groceries, get clothing taken for cleaning, etc. whenever a need has been detected.
  • In Eureka, SARAH, the AI that controls Carter's house is stable and helpful, until the brutal military AI that the programmer based her on comes to the surface. Oh, and she's voiced by Fargo, just doing a female voice.
  • Wayne Szalinski turns his house into a Smart House in Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. It eventually decides that in order to protect the Szalinskis, it needs to kill them.
  • An episode of John Doe has a software billionaire turn his home into one.
  • The New Avengers: "Complex" has a Canadian intelligence building controlled by an AI. The AI has control over all of the building's systems. Turns into Sapient House territory when the AI starts uses the those systems to murder anyone who comes too close to discovering its secret.
  • The Outer Limits (1995): In "The Haven", many buildings are run by an artificial intelligence named Argus.
  • In one episode of Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em, the rather 'special' protagonist Frank Spencer (Michael Crawford) is a guest at a house where all of the fixtures and fittings are computer-controlled. In his usual inimitable manner Frank manages to completely wreck the place in half an hour.

  • In Girl Genius, Castle Heterodyne is governed by a clank intelligence based on the personality of its creator, Faustus Heterodyne. Fortunately, once our heroine provides the blood sample proving she's a Heterodyne it becomes absolutely loyal to her, unfortunately it has a sick sense of humor at the best of times and the attack by the Other fragmented its control over the internal defenses. Baron Wulfenbach assigned people to repair it as a form of capital punishment.
  • It's standard for characters in Kevin & Kell to live in tree-houses made from hollowed out trees. Fenton's house "Tree" was hit by an intelligence ray and became sentient, resulting in a non-computer-based smart house.

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • The Internet of Things:
    • While the design principle has a broader scope than just making your house smart, it is functionally the same. It is possible today to automate your appliances by letting let them talk to each other and to a central hub, such as your computer. The trick is coming up with a set of software standards, so that the toaster can talk to the coffee maker from a different manufacturer, and thus making this affordable for the common consumer.
    • It's also quite easy to recreate the "go horribly awry" part, because early adopters have discovered to their cost that some "smart" appliances are embarrassingly badly secured. While hacking a dishwasher may seem like it wouldn't be much good beyond creating some slapstick comedy, a hacker could find it to be trivially easy to crack the Wi-Fi it's connected to, and from there they could backdoor into your computer. Or crack all the other appliances and use them to drive you insane. Some particularly poorly designed examples will also shut down completely and refuse to work if they can't connect to the Internet, or if the manufacturer goes under and shuts down the servers, or is still kicking and shuts off the server anyway to force you to buy newer stuff.
  • Allen Pan demonstrates a sound-activated Smart Home system he built that is triggered by playing certain familiar songs on his Ocarina. He uses the Song of Storms to trigger some watering mechanisms, uses Epona's Song to unlock his car door, and the Bolero of Fire to start up the heating system. The Song of Healing, naturally, resets all the systems to standby.