Twenty-Five years ago, a friend of mine who was in IT described the world of the future in which one’s home would be completely automated. The sprinklers would go on and off on their own. The heat would turn itself on and off automatically and the coffee maker would know when I wanted my coffee. My response was then, as it is today…SO WHAT? Two things absolutely amaze me about this, 1) that it’s 25 years later and the technology is still not widely available and reasonably priced, (perhaps the market is not yet there) and 2) technology that doesn’t improve people’s way of life, is essentially a nice vs. a necessary.
I have seen and read information about this technology also known as the “smart home” and I have yet to be impressed. To list just a few items, this technology includes the ability to have all your home appliances hooked up to each other and of course the internet. It would allow people to control the lights in their homes, to put on the stove, to run the washer or to set security alarms from their smart phones, tablets or laptops. I even read about the sprinklers turning on and off automatically when sleeping so you don’t get wet as you leave for work in the morning.
The problem with the “smart home” technology is that it’s completely UNESSESSARY and in the long run will only cause more grief and cost money. Big money and I’m not just referring to the cost of setting up the “smart home.” The real value to the technology companies is the ongoing role they play in order for someone to use this technology. These companies are very clever and create the markets so the users have no choice but to continue using their services. Just like the cost for WiFi and Cable service, there would be a monthly or annual fee for having all of this pretty boring and unimpressive technology working for you.
Why do I call it boring and unimpressive? It’s because my coffee maker is already capable of making me coffee at whatever time I choose. Wearing a device that will alert my coffee maker to begin making coffee when I awaken and how strong to make it based on how I slept, is just plain stupid. I already know how strong I like my coffee. Most people who work, awaken at the same time every day so setting the coffee maker to the same time each day is very simple. The sprinklers already turn on automatically everyday at 2:00AM and shut off at 4:00AM. In fact my parents in ground, home sprinklers have been doing that since 1966. Turning the heat or the lights on and off can be controlled by timers and you never have to think about them. What’s easier than that?
Now don’t get me wrong. I am 100% in favor of technology as it relates to improving our lives but creating a market and fixing things that aren’t broken, doesn’t help anyone. It’s simply a way that companies hope to grow their revenues and profits which is fine but to convince people that they need this kind of needless technology is offensive. This is for people who have nothing better to spend their money on and who have lots of time on their hands. What’s ironic is that the technology of the “smart home” which supposedly has been created to simplify our lives actually does the opposite. It gives people more to think about.
The microwave oven, the washer and dryer, the dishwasher and vacuum changed people’s lives for the better. It enabled people to cut in half the time it took to do simple chores. That’s revolutionary. Turning on the heat, lights or security system is easy enough and doesn’t require solutions since easier ones already exists. The more people depend on the technology that they can’t control, the more out of control their lives will become.