You wake up at 6:15, the blinds have been opened, the lights have switched on to help you get up, and the smell of fresh coffee is starting to permeate the walls. When you leave for the day you forget whether you turned the lights off or if you closed the front door, so you attempt to turn it off from your device. ‘I’m sorry Dave, I’m afraid I can’t let you do that.’ Science fiction aside, everything else is festered with apps, & automation, so why hasn’t the house & home caught up with it?
Automation is all around us. Most phones contain more processing power than sending astronauts to the moon, and some of your watches too. Houses, & particularly NZ homes don’t exactly have the best track record. The leaky home crisis, our reliance on heatpumps over proper insulation & exceeding building code don’t bode well. However, our sustainable building sector has had a huge bump in recent years with fantastic new builds & technology available.
Well, Your Home Is Already Partly Automated…
Your heaters have timers on them, garage doors are automated, & most security systems on homes are too, with wifi enabled cameras. However when we think automation, we tend to think of the internet of things and why we simply can’t control everything from your phone.
Some home automation is open source software, which is great if you have a knack for coding. However, encryption and security of your system and its code is easily exploitable, especially if your appliances are connected by wifi.
Realistically, We’re Going To Get A Lot Of Bloatware
Your fridge doesn’t need to know how to tweet, nor need to be able to make margaritas for you. Your smartphone has an incredibly short product life cycle compared to a washing machine or heat pump. Eventually, software updates, bug patches, and continuous fixes to accomodate new tablet or smartphone hardware/software will overload the computer in your appliance, leaving your ‘smart’ appliance stuck with bloated software.
We Like Eco-Systems
To wire your home to run as a dedicated network of linked devices would essentially mean setting up your house like a computer. While that is an interesting idea, in practicality, it may serve to be more trouble than it’s worth with competing software.
Technology brands like to have their own ecosystem. Apple has a swathe of tech products with aligned software that works seamlessly, as does Google, & Microsoft. Getting different hardware to communicate on the ‘same’ software could prove challenging, and extremely costly.
It’s Expensive! For Now..
Automating certain processes in the home could be extremely beneficial, some processes can be done with relative ease. This writer would probably automate a few things. Light switches and the coffee maker in the morning would probably be the first on the list. Until we have true automated products, we’ll stick to wifi enabled DC switches.