What do you want technology to do for you?
Automation means making technology work for you in ways that improve your lifestyle. Technology should serve you, not the other way around.
Technology tends to be described by complex terms, acronyms and difficult to understand instructions. The frustration becomes greater when the technology doesn’t operate as you thought it would and you end up going around in circles, serving the very thing that was meant to serve you!
Like the famous Dr Stephen Covey wrote in his self-help book ‘The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People ’, it is best to begin with the end in mind.
Ask yourself these questions: When things are working just the way you imagine, what will it look like? What does it do for you and your family? How will you know if it is doing a good job? What will have changed?
You may be overloaded with lots of repetitive small chores and tasks or turning on the TV to watch a movie requires a series of steps.
Technology for technology sake is just that…technology. Understanding how technology works may be a fun intellectual pursuit but surely that is not as worthwhile as putting this stuff to work for you and giving you more time to spend on higher value activities. (By the way, it is also ok if the answer to the question is simply “bragging rights with my friends” but that kind of defeats the purpose…which is, well…the purpose!)
It might help you do something that was difficult for you.
Example: Andi (not her real name), had an acquired injury from a motorcycle accident, (plus a couple of other unfortunate ailments) that meant she could not easily get up to answer the door without risk of an epileptic seizure (she had three in one day when a solution was being installed for her and her family).
Her routine consisted of daily visits by different home-nurses, medical appointments, rehabilitation exercise with a physiologist, arranging drop off and collection from school of her two children and working from home in between. It was clear that technology was the last thing she wanted to be bothered with.
However, Andi received a small grant and so she purchased a range of gadgets to help her. The solution for Andi was built in stages. The main objective was to provide a better way of receiving visitors, seeing what was happening around the home and being able to communicate with others when in need.
What can be automated?
There are many devices that were once manual or proprietary that can benefit from being part of a home automation “eco-system”. Some devices are retro fitted to previous manually operated devices and others are full replacements.
In almost every case, the device is connected to the internet. This area has gone through a lot of development and is often referred to as the “Internet of Things” (IoT).
Examples include thermostats (Nest, Ecobee), air conditioning remote control (e.g. Sensibo), garage door openers (e.g. Chamberlain, Merlin), automatic gates (ismartgate), lighting (Philips Hue, Sengled, LifX, Brilliant) and many other types of devices.
Until recently, these gadgets have been developed along proprietary and vendor lines, with little consideration for interoperability or open standards. This is starting to change and major brands are aiming to be eco-system of choice for all connected devices. They include brands such as Google with the Google Assistant – “Hey Google”, Microsoft Home Kit, Amazon – Alexa and Samsung – Smart Things