Sphinx – The Soviet Home Automation System Concept From the 1980s
Sphinx was an old experimental project for a home automation system, designed by the Soviets back in 1987. Commissioned by the Soviet State Committee for Science and Technology, the Sphinx was designed by Dmitry Azrikan, Alexey Kolotushkin, and Valery Gossen.
Its name is an abbreviation of Super Functional Integrated Communicative System – but in Russian. Anyway, it was intended to be an ensemble of modules that would allow users to interact with all sorts of electronics, each other, and operate pretty much everything that was connected to the device via a network of sorts.
As described in a 1987 issue of the Soviet magazine called Technical Aesthetics, Sphinx would be comprised of “spherical speakers, a detachable monitor, headphones, a handheld remote control with a removable display, a diskette drive, a processor with three memory blocks and more”.
Each of the modules was designed to be used either collectively or individually by family members. The number of memory blocks was also supposed to be increased endlessly, depending on the needs of any given household – allowing family members to activate different programs at the same time.
In the magazine issue, Sergey Moiseyev, Head the VNIITE (Russian design research institute) said that the Sphinx was designed in such a way so as to have everything integrated into its system. It didn’t revolve solely around creating a smart house, but it also looked after the individual needs of the family members.
As part of the configuration of the Sphinx, there were also detachable monitors, spherical speakers, peripheral touchpads that were able to interact with the surrounding environment of the home and the equipment that was attached to it, as well as various accessories that fully integrated everything imaginable.