0 Soviet Skype, PlayStation, Google Glass. How a smart house was developed in USSR.

Soviet Skype, PlayStation, Google Glass. How a smart house was developed in USSR.

Posted on August 30, 2016 by konst4

In 1980 not only “Buran” was being built in the Soviet Union but there was also a perestroika, and they also tried to anticipate future consumer paradise, which was especially incredible in terms of shortages, there was even no toilet paper. And yet at that time, Soviet scientists were able to predict the appearance of smart watch, smartphones, laptops, and wireless home electronics. Moreover, all this is supposed to be in a single system, organizing a smart house.

Union began to ruin, but numerous institutes, bureau and other departments with a marvelous abbreviations still worked and sometimes gave fresh innovative ideas. All-Union Scientific Research Institute of Technical Aesthetics (ASRITA), for example, to devise a system that resembles the concept of smart home, that now only gains popularity.

The institute identified the main drawback of the system of home appliances such as a TV, tape recorder, video recorder, computer, printer and speakers that existed at that time. Actually, there was no system, and that was the main drawback. In fact, many devices repeatedly duplicated the functionality of each other with no cooperation and not combining with each other.

The idea of ASRITA employees was to abandon TVs, tape recorders, computers, and other devices as a self-contained devices replacing them with functional blocks that are combined into a system. This is how the scientists said: “The central processing unit receives information from the outside (over the air, cable networks, optical fibers, telephone networks, etc…) or from its own storage devices. The technique of the near future will keep different combination of existing media from phonograph records to slides. The next step is to make a universal medium on which different digital data will be stored – music, videos, slides, educational and game programs, texts … The transition to universal media of a small size will lead to a genuine revolution in the design of home electronics. “

As scientists planned the information that processor received can be distributed through the screens, speakers, and other units. To arrange these blocks around the house ( processor delivers film on the screen in one room, a video game in other, in the office it turns on a computer with work tasks, and in the kitchen – an audiobook), they proposed to lay wires in Soviet citizens flats. In fact, they talked about universal cables in the walls, which could, at first, connect the electronics, and secondly, manage it through the processor.

It’s funny that even then, 30 years ago, elements of wearable electronics were well described, “There may be the most unexpected solutions: for example, sunglasses, that turn into a display showing the time and other relevant information (heart rate or body temperature). ”

In accordance with ASRITA concept there was developed a project of habitation equipping in near future – SFINCS (SuperFunktsionalINtegratedCommunicativeSystem). In the fantasies of researchers all looked like this:

Almost all devices are perfectly recognizable, right? Only a fantastic spaceship like thing is embarrassing. In fact, this is the main element of the SFINCS System – a device that its inventors persistently called “central processing unit”. It received commands, processed them and distribute tasks among functional blocks.

These strange petals in the tail – media, analogs of modern SSD, HDD, flash drives or CD. In the USSR, they were convinced that the first universal storage medium would be a disk, and then – crystalline, with no moving mechanisms in the reader.

It provided both wired and wireless devices connection. Developers were confident that the processor would be able to receive information and transfer it to other technique via radio. The CPU had to contain a unit that transfers different types of signals in digital form.

The CPU itself appeared only as a mean to distribute tasks to other devices. Therefore, it is not necessary to keep it in a prominent place. However, then it will be difficult to insert the petals – the keepers of information (let’s call them drives). It was assumed that such drive will provide a work load for one family member. For example, on one lobe there are movies and games, on the other – music and educational programs, and the third have – business and creative applications, and so on..

The CPU had to broadcast the required content on the display. The apartment can be equipped with any number of different screen diagonals and dynamics of different shapes. As an example, in the living room you can put screen with diagonal of about one meter (about 40 inches) and two powerful acoustic system in the form of spheres.

“There you can watch movies, videos, TV shows, works of art and other images and sound, play collective computer games. The family can arrange a friendly teleconference or business meetings. Additional information (time, weather and other channels, etc.) may be presented in a frame “- they dreamed in the dying Soviet Union. This description is taken from the magazine “Industrial art” of 1987, today we can easily recognize online games, instant messengers like Skype, smart TVs, and even electronic photo frames.

The authors of the SFINCS really believed in it, or just dream about, but claimed that the Soviet Union would launch a mass production of large flat-panel LCD and plasma TVs before the end of the 1980s. But the production of small colored screens, which were also had to be used as part of the SPHINX were out of the question. A kind of tablet actually duplicated a large main display, but offered a greater mobility.

Tiny screen should have been integrated into the remote controller. “It will allow to give any command to a complex using interactive communication with a computer system “, – is written in the description of the device. In addition, such controller could perform the functions of the calculator, clock, timer, and a tiny TV. A built-in microphone would provide the voice control of system!

The diagonal layout of the buttons, was considered to be extremely convenient to work with the remote controller. Each key has been highlighted, the sound a response on pressing could be activated if necessary.

In addition to the creation of a small remote controller there was a full-sized one, it looks more like a computer keyboard. The first option was a full touchscreen, and the second – with buttons and the wireless telephone as a separate tube. It could be connected to a tablet screen and there would be something like a modern laptop.

Let’s add wireless headphones, small speakers and we will have the first project of the smart home in the USSR.

The authors of the SFINCS haven’t seen the limits in the functionality of this thing. First entertainment and work, then – much more serious problems. The system, for example, was supposed to monitor the condition of the house in the absence of the owners, to give background information on any issues and even help with a medical diagnosis!

However, all the features of the SFINCS, as well as the system itself looked good only on the pages of youth magazines. The establishment of workable models – it was something unreal. The Soviet Union was rapidly approaching to the final stage of the collapse, with the distribution of rationed goods, the total deficit and international conflicts with the “parades of sovereignties”. Who cared about fantasies of some designers and engineers?

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