Home Automation for the Rest of Us

While we're not quite to the Jetsons' home, 2015 could be a breakout year for Home Automation.

While we’re not quite to the Jetsons’ home, 2015 could be a breakout year for Home Automation.

Home Automation isn’t just for techies anymore. It is helping people with disabilities, parents of young children, and others who could benefit from a helping hand. Home Automation technology has been around for a long time, but obscure protocols, difficult setups, and high cost have generally relegated it to only the most geeky (or rich) among us. The good news is that The New World of Technology is ushering in a new age of Home Automation products and services that everyday people will finally be able to take advantage of. The year 2015 could be the year that Home Automation finally breaks out into the mainstream.

One of my daughters is part of a “Botball” club at her school where they design robots for competition. They are learning the basics of how to program the robots to do certain things based on the input the robots receive from various sensors. When it comes down to it, the robots are only as good as the input they receive from their sensors and the actions they are programmed to perform based on that input. Home Automation is very similar in this regard. Good automated homes have various sensors that feed information into some type of system. This system is programmed to perform certain functions based on that input. For example, when the house senses that someone has entered a room, the lights turn on. Another example is that when there has been no activity in the house, the thermostat automatically adjusts the temperature setting to save energy.

All of this might sound fairly simple, but until the last few years technology had not advanced to a point where devices with good sensors were reasonably priced. Additionally, there were few standards on how devices could interact with each other and most products were geared toward techies. So while Bill Gates could understand how to create (and afford) a highly automated home, most people could not. Even those of us who could do some automation around our house were limited to what we could do unless we were willing to pay through the nose. The key factor to making Home Automation accessible to mainstream users is the availability of inexpensive and easy-to-use sensory devices. I have been watching the evolution of this industry for over 15 years now and I can say with confidence that this year should see a burgeoning market of these devices. Additionally, technology from companies like Apple are set to make the integration of these devices much simpler.

If you have even the slightest interest in automating your house, here are some of the ways you could do so.

  • Saving energy. A lot of home automation technologies are designed to intelligently use energy only when you need it, and turn things off when you don’t. Light and thermostats are a couple of the most common applications.
  • Remote Control. Being able to control things in your home from a remote location can provide peace of mind when you are away. One example is your house telling you that the garage door was left open so you can then shut it using your smartphone.
  • Security. Automated security systems can provide increased security over traditional security system. They may also be able to save you money on monitoring.
  • Monitoring loved ones. The ability to see loved ones while away can allow people more freedom in leaving their homes. New health-based automation technologies can also notify caretakers and doctors that emergency situationa may be imminent.
  • Sheer convenience. Don’t dismiss the convenience factor! Our homes are our castles and if we want to be able to push a button to automatically adjust things in our home then should be able to do that!

Bottom line is to start investigating your options now because I believe Home Automation technology is about to get very popular this year. If you want to be able to take advantage of it, knowledge is power. If you have questions about Home Automation technologies, or need some help implementing a solution, please feel free to contact me.