Let’s ponder…what is a smart home? Is it convenience that is necessitated by adding efficiency, or by the need for the latest in technology to fulfill our desire for a simpler lifestyle? I have thought about that question as to what a smart home can be until recently when I visited a colleague’s home, seeing first-hand how a ‘smart’ home comes to life.
From temperature control to lighting, a home-owner can automate his or her environment. The home I visited allowed the home-owner the ability to control his thermostat, actually adjusting the temperature to something suitable as we entered the home. Lights turned on and off as we traveled from room to room and he is also able to control his sprinkler system from his smart phone.
Home automation is not a new idea. We have seen this type of technology in the movies like Back to the Future II and Hanna-Barbara‘s The Jetsons, with some added flash and wow factor of course, but it shows us how technology influences every part of our daily life. From personalized weather controls to personal greetings as you enter the door, home automation is slowly evolving from fiction to reality. Although the technology that we see in the movies is pretty cool, the “real thing” provides us with the additional emphasis on security and energy efficiency in conjunction with the comfort and convenience that we have come to expect.
In my opinion, the concept of the smart home has only just now started to gain momentum. Companies like AT&T, VIVInt and Comcast are now offering affordable home automation that are feature rich and the plans offered are flexible. These services allow people to have peace of mind when vacationing or if they are absent for long periods of time, like during deployment. These tools help to ease our worries about the safety of our homes and protect our investment. A customer can check on their pets, the housekeeper, and even start up the oven so dinner is prepared by the time you get home from work.
Some might argue that we are becoming too dependent on technology. Today’s fast-paced world almost always dictates that if we can save time we will choose the path of least resistance. Time is a precious commodity and if coming home to a temperature controlled environment with dinner ready, lights controlled by voice command and a TV classic like World’s Greatest Car Chases ready to go then I think most of society would choose the smart home.
I also believe that a smart home is a safer home. Internet accessible video cameras are becoming a standard in today’s housing market. Energy efficiency has also become very important. How many times have we forgotten to turn off a light or left an unnecessary appliance on? A smart home would simply turn off whatever is not in use helping the home-owner to save hundreds of dollars a year. It seems that the smart home concept is the right choice and is being implemented in newer homes not because we are a lazy society, but because convenience, safety and energy efficiency is something that can’t be over looked. As technology continues to evolve and influence our personal lives the more time we have to get back to enjoying the things that life has to offer. Yes, we may be sowing the seeds of our impending doom when our own technology turns against us, Terminator & Skynet ring a bell? Although, I think we’ll still be masters of the machines for a good while yet!