How close are we to living in ‘The Jetsons’? Checking in on our smart-home future

In the fall of 1962, The Jetsons debuted in primetime on ABC-TV as the network’s first show to be broadcasted in color. It was the height of the Space Race, and Americans eagerly tuned in for a tantalizing view of the future.

This particular future was Orbit City in the year 2062. The Jetsons were a nuclear family that lived, worked, and went to school in buildings high above the clouds. They commuted in flying cars, benefitted from abundant technology, and Rosie the robot did much of their housekeeping.

Despite an original run that lasted just a few seasons, The Jetsons became synonymous with ‘the future’. Now, nearly 56 years later, some of the technology dreamed up in the cartoon is more present than future.

Although we probably won’t see flying cars anytime soon, some technologies have become part of our daily lives, and others are in development and on their way to being commonplace by 2062.

Let’s look at some of the most iconic smart home technology from the world of the Jetson family and see how it compares to what we have today.

Video Phones

The Jetsons Technology Video Calling

Video calling is one of the most easily recognizable technologies from The Jetsons because it’s already here. Some of us use Facetime, Skype, and other video calling platforms daily; in fact, we often use the technology in place of attending work meetings. We use it to check in with family and friends. And as more and more people ditch traditional landline phones, this trend will only continue.

If anything, The Jetsons underestimated the potential in this market. Most of their video phone equipment is a lot bulkier than the compact, hand-held devices we use today. And with all the advances in virtual and augmented reality, it’s possible that we could someday soon experience our phone calls in 3D.

Robot Vacuum

The Jetsons Technology Robot Vacuum

The Jetson family enjoyed many time and labor-saving technologies — especially on the home front. Jane, the mother, merely touched a few buttons to deploy long robotic arms that washed and folded laundry to save hours of washing and cleaning. (Yet somehow, she still complained about doing housework). And while most domestic chores are still very hands-on in 2018, there’s at least one obvious device we have in common with the Jetsons: the robot vacuum.

Many have heard of robovacs like the Roomba, perhaps because of its high-profile cameos on the TV shows Breaking Bad and Parks and Recreation. Now there are many different brands on the market, and just like in The Jetsons, this battery powered vacuum can clean the floors and use its sensors to avoid furniture as well as steep drops.

Automatic Food Prep

The Jetsons Technology Instant Food

In the cartoon, we oohed and awed at Jane Jetson’s ability to press a couple of buttons that automatically prepared a multi-course meal in a matter of seconds. In one episode, we see Jane push three or four buttons on a large square machine that shoots out cereal, milk, eggs, and toast for her son Elroy. What we don’t see is where the food is stored and how it gets prepared. We’d probably be pretty horrified by the preservatives and additives in the Jetson’s diet.

Of all Orbit City’s technologies, this one still feels the farthest away. In 2018 we certainly have some devices that eliminate time and labor in the kitchen, like smart coffee makers.

There are appliances out there that could soon replicate this technology, though not without preparation and planning. A product called Suvie promises to make an entire meal for a family. It resembles a toaster oven and has different trays for different cooking settings. You put food in in the morning, set it to cook, and come home at the end of the day with a three or four course meal. But the device hasn’t been released yet, and likely won’t become a standard product in the kitchen anytime soon.

Robots as Assistants

The Jetsons Technology Robot Assistants

In the cartoon, Rosie, the Jetson’s walking, er, rolling, talking robot maid, handles all the chores that are too advanced for their push-button appliances. You know, like sweeping.

You can’t buy a Rosie in 2018, yet. But we do have voice assistants like Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, that use machine learning and voice recognition to help users accomplish tasks through their smartphones and other applications.

There are robots out there as well that might become part of the smart home experience someday. LG debuted several concept robots at the Consumer Electronic Show this year that serve food and carry baggages. Other companies are developing robotic technology for a whole host of different things.

If you combine this artificial intelligence with emerging mobile robotics technology and extrapolate 45 years of progress, you’ll see how the average home could have a Rosie-like robot assistant by 2062. Maybe.

Personal Care and Hygiene

Those of us who are slow movers in the morning appreciated the episode of The Jetsons where George is launched from his bed onto a conveyor belt, where robotic arms help him with dressing and grooming. This includes getting a vigorous tooth brushing from a faceless robotic arm protruding from the wall.

In some regards we are thankfully a long ways away from this lazy automation. However, today we have outsourced some of these tasks to technology. For example, electric toothbrushes are set for optimal brushing time and technique. There are even smart toilets available. Yep, smart toilets.

Orbit City wasn’t all it was cracked up to be

The Jetsons Technology Not Perfect

Despite the technology the creators dreamed up in The Jetsons, the future still had some of the same human experience themes we see in our lives today. George’s boss was a jerk, Elroy hated doing his homework, and the Jetson family often grew annoyed that the technology they had in place sometimes malfunctioned.

Whether or not we’ll actually see flying cars in our lifetime, one thing’s for certain: George, Jane, daughter Judy, Elroy, Astro the dog, and Rosie the Robot never knew how great they had it living in Orbit City.

Business

4 women innovators who are using tech to help others live better lives

Meet four women leaders who are not only at the forefront of technology today, but also using tech — from robotics and medicine to food and undergarments — to help others.
Deals

Amazon slashes $77 off the iRobot Roomba 690 multisurface robot vacuum

This special offer comes just in time for you to get a head start on spring cleaning. The Roomba 690 robot vacuum sucks up dust, dirt and pet hair — all while you're away at the office.
Computing

At $99, Nvidia’s Jetson Nano minicomputer seeks to bring robotics to the masses

Nvidia announced a new A.I. computer, the Jetson Nano. This computer comes with an 128-core GPU that Nvidia claims can handle pretty much any A.I. framework you could imagine. At $99, it's an affordable way for A.I. newbies to get involved.
Movies & TV

The best movies on Netflix in March, from Buster Scruggs to Roma

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, witty humor, or anything else.
Smart Home

Ikea isn’t throwing shade with the delayed release of its smart blinds

Ikea planned to release is Tradfri-compatible smart blinds in April 2019, but the products have been delayed until later in the year for a firmware update that promises better functionality.
Smart Home

Whatever happened to those dumb smart products we wrote about in 2017?

A smart salt dispenser? As manufacturers rush to get the next new smart item out there, we wonder if all these new inventions are really necessary. Here’s a list of 10 of the quirkiest home smart gadgets available, and where they are now.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Write music with your voice, make homemade cheese

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Smart Home

Lutron’s Fan Control makes ceiling fans smart, but has some turnoffs

Lutron recently came out with a smart switch that controls ceiling fans, the Lutron Caseta Fan Speed Control Switch. How does it stack up? Here's a first-hand review of the Lutron Fan Control switch.
Cars

Amazon and Kia team up to simplify EV home-charging station installs

Kia Motors announced a new program with Amazon for electric vehicles. Customers planning to purchase a new Kia EV or PHEV can check out recommended Level 2 240-volt home charging stations and arrange installation in their homes.
Smart Home

Traeger’s latest wood-pellet grills are smoky, smart, and spacious

Traeger is famous in the world of barbecue and heavy-duty grills for its signature pellet grills and now the company is expanding this year by adding three new brands of redesigned
Smart Home

The five best teeth-whitening kits you can buy on Amazon

Teeth whitening can have a major impact on a person’s smile and overall appearance. You don't necessarily have to go to the dentist to get your teeth whitened though. Here are the best teeth-whitening kits you can buy.
Smart Home

Is your Keurig making gross coffee? Might be time for a cleaning

No one likes a dirty, scaled, or smelly Keurig, but how are you supposed to clean them? Before you throw yours out the window, here is a quick guide on cleaning your machine out thoroughly.
Smart Home

Which is better, the original Echo or the Echo Dot? We compare them

Amazon Echo vs. Dot: Having Alexa answer your questions is nothing short of futuristic, but which device should you get? There are some big differences between the two, especially in size, sound, and cost.
Product Review

Gate’s Smart Lock is locked and loaded but ultimately lacks important basics

In a world of video cameras and doorbells comes the Gate Smart Lock, a lock with a video camera embedded. It’s a great idea, but lacks some crucial functionality to make it a top-notch product.