• Dean Anthony Gratton

The Smart Home: Is this is as good as it gets?

Updated: Aug 12, 2018

The smart or connected home is a notion that has been bouncing around in our noggins since the 1960s according to a former, yet more mature and shall remain unnamed colleague, who can remember such times, as a young adult. Ha! Me, you ask? I wasn’t even born!

Who needs a sledge hammer?

I often see the connected or smart home touted as some all-fandangled new consumer must-have technology designed to both ornate our homes and to ultimately assist us in our ever-so complicated lives.


Naturally, we all need our refrigerators notifying us that our milk is desperately low – and it’s not because we didn’t realise such a thing when we topped up our coffee – no, it’s simply because we need it and everyone is talking about it. Yep, we have seemingly lost our ability to think. Can anyone detect a sense of sarcasm in my tone or am I being too subtle?


Life is so complicated, right?

Okay, so it annoys me! What I mean by this is that technology should provide a sense of purpose – there has to be a reason for it to be developed, manufactured and produced – or is it just me? You see, I was also wrapped up in the smart home shenanigans as a chipper young lad when, likewise, I was excited by its potential during the 1980s and the prospect of how the smart home would revolutionise the way we lived. The problem here is that we are saying the same thing today, as I am sure my former colleague who experienced the 60s would agree, and yet we are still waiting for it to happen!


Of course, we now have the ‘how-will-our-lives-ever-be-different’ Internet of Things (IoT) chapter to get through, which is laden with promises to revolutionise how we do things because those things were already too complicated in the first place – right?

Humph.


We are all contented consumers

I have seen numerous products such as the Canary security system that seamlessly integrates itself into your home, as well as other wireless video security systems, which alert you to any home activity when you’re away. Similarly, there is a plethora of products that allow you to remotely control your house temperature from afar. Seriously? I just don’t get that! In fact, I recall a story where, in the furore of the smart home hype during the 1980s, you could record a television program remotely via your video recorder but, this raises the question, who’s going to load the cassette?


And that’s it you see. Most consumers are seemingly content with the Internet-enabled home equipment gadgetry, but have yet to commit to smart lighting, smart appliances, such as refrigerators, washing machines and dishwashers, as well as a host of other so-called smart devices.


Indeed, new build homes can enormously benefit from smart home technology where, from the onset, such ‘smart’ equipment can be integrated into the home during the build – this is an ideal! However, existing building stock, which has to be retrospectively equipped is a little more challenging as no-one wants to rip out ceilings and groove plaster to lay new cabling. The Internet-enabled gadgetry prevails, as it is non-intrusive and simple to integrate into your home


Until next time…

And it raises another question: What is it we need from a smart home? Surely, products like the Canary and other Internet-enabled gadgets suffice as an holistic security system? They easily cohabit with an existing Wi-Fi connection and connects with your smartphone. Smart lighting, smart appliances and other smart things, I have to say, haven’t found their niche yet. Until this added-value is determined and firmly resonates with the general consumer then, alas, it remains ‘nice-to-have’. In the meantime, I don’t want my fridge to inform me that my milk is low – bugger off and stop talking to me!


So, this is where a ‘I’m not hearing voices’ Dr G signs off.



Originally published in Telecoms.

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