Home Automation, Novelty or Convenience?

When I first started with home automation, it was so I wouldn’t have to walk into a dark house. This was back when home automation was just beginning to make its way into our lives (2011). At the time I was shopping at Home Depot and ran across the Wink hub (first generation). They had a starter kit with two smart light bulbs and a hub to control them. The box held the promise of controlling every aspect of your home, which was intriguing and made me think of HAL 9000 and the movie Demon Seed (based on the book by Dean Koontz). This could be just what I was looking for…and more. I put it down, went home and did a little research on this Wink product.

I went back a few days later and picked up the Wink starter kit. At first I set the living room light to go on when I was approaching my house between a specific time frame, which was easy. Although it worked most of the time, I found it easier to set a specific hour for the living room light to turn on. I would have to use the Wink app to turn it off, which at the time seemed cool (we didn’t have the Google Assistant at the time). It all worked and I was happy. No more walking into a dark house.

Although there were other ways to automate the house, the only one I thought practical was the Nest thermostat, but couldn’t justify the cost when the thermostat I had worked fine.

Today I have the same two automated light bulbs and am still considering replacing my thermostat, this time with an Ecobee Lite. I’ve replaced the old Wink hub for a newer model, and am thinking about getting a smart dimmer switch for the dining room. The living room light is now set to come on at dusk and go off at midnight, and can easily be turned on or off via the Google Assistant on my Pixel XL. My husband also controls the lights via the Google Assistant on his LG G5. Since the lights can now be controlled with a simple voice command, it’s rare that I even think about opening the Wink app.

I’m amazed at how far home automation has come in a short period of time, pushed along by a voice controlled assistant (Google Assistant, Alexa, Siri, Cortana). And after living with home automation since 2011, I still see it as an unnecessary convenience. It’s nice to have, but I could live without it. I might feel different if more of the house was automated.

I’ll probably get the Wi-Fi thermostat before the smart dimmer switch, as long as my husband doesn’t think it’s too much of a novelty. And yes, I think he feels this is about my love of gadgets and not convenience. I don’t think he remembers what it’s like to stumble into a dark house, these things are easy to forget. Luckily he’s not the type of dig in his heels unless he feels strong about something. I’m also not going to force him into something that makes him uncomfortable. After all, I still think of home automation as an unnecessary convenience.

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