Progress Update

Smallhomes Update

Some interesting general developments in the small home space say a lot about how this new structural solution is progressing in our society. The promise is there, and growing stronger every day, for people needing safe, affordable housing alternatives for themselves and senior loved ones.

Recently the city of Boston put on display what they’re calling the Plugin House, a 360 square foot structure resembling, in concept, the backyard “granny pod” starting to receive nationwide attention. In this case the public was asked, during weeklong tours, to respond with their ideas for best presentation and use of the space. The Plugin House, basically, is expected to take about five hours to build and cost about $50,000.

The Plugin project was sponsored by the city’s year-old Housing Innovation Lab and its Additional Dwelling Unit Pilot Project. This will explore practical ways people might carve out small, independent dwellings within existing homes—and option that could appeal to family members both young and old.

An offshoot of this would be closer attention being paid to the regulatory framework for small house living which, in many communities, still has major concerns to surmount regarding safety, permanence and overall neighborhood appeal.

Meanwhile the online security firm Webroot recently explored the conundrum presented by the Internet of Things. These small sensor-based devices provide the functionality and safety of small spaces designed to house frail, vulnerable elderly (see, for example, “New Technology for Small House Living”, below). Webroot notes that manufacturers of consumer devices have not fully engaged yet with the threat to privacy and internet security posed by sophisticated computer chips not necessarily engineered yet to meet these needs.

Can these devices be hacked to serve as an opening for the insertion of malware in home-based services? Might devices even be subject to direct interference in function, causing dangerous conditions, such as disruption of cardiac pacemakers?

Webroot notes that regulators throughout the country are just starting to come to terms with these issues, with initial emphasis on upgrading major government and commercial applications. But activity benefitting consumers will grow as IOT starts to take hold in the small home arena.