With the new emphasis on Green power and sustainability, there is a lot of buzz this year around home automation. More and more choices are available in this fast rising market, and a greater number of products are viable now. Still however many indutry insiders are scratching their heads wondering Why Home Automation Still Isn’t Mainstream.
I myself am a little confused as well. I walked through a home with a customer that had home automation, here are some excerpts from that tour.
Owner: Let me first show you how we watch TV. Now where is my mobile touchpanel? Oh here it is. Oops it was on the couch and not the dock. Well, no problem I have one in the laundry room by the door. Stay here.
Owner: (From the laundry room) OK, ready? Here goes.
(Lights Dim TV comes on)
Owner: (Back from Laundry Room) See that? I just pushed one button and the lights went down and the TV came on.
Me: Oh, is that the URC remote I heard about that does TV and lighting?
Owner: No, this is a huge step up. I can do way more. It looks like I have some battery on the touchpanel now. Let me show you this. Let’s say I want to turn on the lights in the kids bedroom. I pick up my touchpanel, hit home to get to my main screen, select the lighting tab, select Bedroom 1, wait, is that 1 or 2, well for now lets do 1, Select the bed side lamp, and then drag this slider to 10%.
Voice from Upstairs: Daaaaaadddddd!!!!! Knock it off!
Owner: Or what if I wanted to see if the upstairs window was open. I hit home to get to the main screen, select the security tab, select bedroom 2, select openings, select windows, select front window, and hit status. See??? It’s open!
Me: Can you close it?
Owner: (bewildered) No. . . but I can open an application on my phone and do all this on my way home from work!
As you can see, a fully automated home makes things really easy to use. I mean you just hit some buttons, flip some pages, open some tabs, and off you go! The touchpanels have pages and pages of things you can press to automate your house. Your house can also be fully automated by opening applications on your phone, hitting some buttons, flipping some pages, and opening some tabs.
It seems that if you just perform all the proper actions, nearly everything in your home works automatically.
It is completely automated by executing these manual tasks. Now that’s automation!
On a serious note, automation has not taken off because few even understand what it is. What is described above and sold as automation are really home controls. Automation is making things happen without conscious user input.
It is using technology to pick up on activities you perform daily, and using those trigger points to initiate predefined sequences in your home systems. If more dealers would start minimizing the amount of interface with the touchpanel and follow this philosophy, home automation would be a highly viable market opportunity. Maybe its ego, and we need people to “see” our programming on the panel, or insecurity and we use the excessive pages of superfluos button mashes to justify our price. Either way, approach jobs as if the touchpanel does not exist, and you may find yourself being truly innovative.