Taking My Smarthome for Granted

August 23, 2013

We had houseguests this week, and watching their reaction to my smarthome was really a fun experience. It served to remind me how much home automation has already changed my life, and how much it could change the lives of others.
My brother and his family live on the opposite side of the country from us, but since he’s an airline pilot we see him pretty often. Unfortunately, we don’t get many chances to see his wife. When my sister-in-law and niece came to visit this week, it was the first time they’ve been here since our home became a smarthome.
The first thing they noticed was the lighting. As I walked them through the house they noticed me double-clicking the light switches as we went. When they asked about this, I showed them how double-clicking up on the light in the basement stairs (for example) will also turn on the lights in the basement common areas, and  how a double-click down on one of the bedrooms also turns off the lights in the hall. These are standard smarthome features that my family uses every day, but they seem pretty amazing and almost magical to anyone who hasn’t become accustomed to the automated lifestyle.
As I showed them some of the other automated aspects of the house, I began to realize how much we have come to rely on our smarthome to make our lives easier. It took just a minute or two to get both of our guests’ smartphones onto our home network, and then I got them up and running with the MyHome app. This wasn’t absolutely necessary, but they both had fun controlling the lights and fans and even the television directly from their phones. When I showed them how they could safely unlock the front door in the same way, they were pretty dang impressed.
I guess the biggest surprise (to them, not to us) was finding out that they could even control the house while they were away. The ladies had been doing some baking, and they had lowered the setting on the air conditioning to help cool down the house down more quickly. Then they ran to the store. My wife realized she’d left the thermostat on “hold” at a temperature much cooler than we usually do, with nobody at all in the house. So she whipped out her iPhone and set the air conditioning to a more reasonable setting. When smarthome meets smartphone, things get really efficient.
It was a great visit, with some fun moments to get reacquainted with family members we hadn’t had the opportunity to spend much time with lately. While it gave us a chance to show off some cool home automation technology, it also served as a reminder to how much our various home control systems have affected our lives. Being able to see the technology through someone else’s eyes helped us realize how much we really have been taking our smarthome for granted.