This post comes to us from Dave Dryland, Custom Department Manager at Gibson Sound & Vision. For more information on home automation, connected devices, and other current consumer electronics trends, check out www.shopgibson.com, @GibsonDaveD on Twitter, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Much has been written about the fabled ‘Smart Home’, and how the ‘Internet of Things’ is connecting many of our new household appliances and gadgets. Coming from someone who’s been slowly growing the list of ‘smart’ devices in my own home, my thoughts now tend to go more towards how best to take advantage of the automation features of those products.
All the connected devices in my home give me the ability for control from apps on my phones, tablets, and computers, which is great in itself, however ‘Home Automation’ should take things one step further! Why should I have to open the app and press a button when the system should ‘automate’ some of my daily processes, so that I don’t have to lift a finger? (I know, first world problems, but why else should I be investing in an automation system, if not to be a bit lazy….)
FROM SUNRISE TO SUNSET
The tasks I target for automating are the ones that I repetitively do every day, every week, or every month. One of the most common examples is a simple one, turning my outside lights on and off in the evening. This is a routine task that most lighting timers can handle, however a good automation system tracks daily sunset and sunrise times, so it can adjust accordingly.
SMART LIGHTING LEADS THE WAY
Another very basic example, but one that I find very handy, is turning on a select series of lights when I get up in the morning, lighting my way directly to my morning coffee! Automating this process ensures that light levels are set to minimal levels, so that no one else in the house wakes up, and so that I don’t burn out my retinas before I’m fully awake.
The examples above are basic but effective examples of daily automation, but some of my proudest programming feats are much more elaborate. One of the toughest things about living in Canada, at least in my opinion, is having to start my drive to work in a cold car. I set to work on automating my morning ‘warm up the car’ process, which seemed rather simple because I always leave for work at the same time. I integrated my car starter into my home automation system, and set a daily schedule for it to start the car ten minutes before I would normally leave. This programming generally worked out great, however I began to find that I was ‘pre-heating’ the car even on mild mornings. To rectify this I programmed my system to automatically check the morning’s temperature, before deciding if it should start the car or not. I can now leave this programming in place all year round, and my system will only start my car 10 minutes before I leave if the outside temperature is below 0.
The convenience of using a simple handheld remote, wall mounted touchscreen or keypad, or an app on my mobile device, make most of my ‘on-demand’ tasks simple to operate, however with the developments in voice control there are now even easier options for controlling my home. Recently I added a Google Home to my system, giving me an in-house ‘personal assistant’ that’s always listening for my every command. Simple voice commands will now allow me to start music playing in any, (or every,) room in my house, open or close the garage door, start the car, etc. etc. etc. These examples of voice control aren’t exactly ‘automation’, since I still need to ask Google to do my bidding, however they sure do make life easy!
In summary, I believe we are now living in a time when ‘smart’ devices can truly make life easier for most of us, and certainly add way more ‘cool factor’ to our homes. Whether it be individual connected devices or an interconnected automation system, I highly recommend beginning the process of investing in ‘smart’ devices whenever possible.