I have been interested in Home Automation since childhood. It started with adding timers to Christmas decorations. Nearly every room had a timer that turned on something; trees, candy canes, candles and even a Cassette recorder with a Christmas Mix Tape set to play endlessly. For outside lights, the nativity set and wood cut out characters I ran extension cords to large metal boxed timers in the garage or through my bedroom window. After Christmas, I put those timers to use on lights in house, the radio in my bedroom and spot lights placed under bushes in the yard. Each Christmas I convinced by parents to buy better and more sophisticated timers.
In 1990 my home automation obsession grew when building our house with a X-10 home automaton control system, https://www.x10.com. X-10 utilizes existing electrical wiring for communicating On/Off/Dim commands to light switches, outlets, and receiver boxes. Within a few years nearly every light in our house and of course outlet boxes placed in the yard for Christmas lights and decorating were connected with X-10. Some house lights faded on as the sun set, others turned on when someone walked up to the front door or pulled a car into the drive way. Motion detectors were placed in the living room and would fade up lights as someone walked through the house. My wife occasionally showed off our Smart Home to her friends, my boys enjoyed turning on and off their brother’s lights in middle of the night and my father-in-law thought it was all a big waste of money.
Today our home automation is simplified but more robust. Phillips HUE, www.meethue.com, is the heart of our lighting system with at least one HUE lamp in every room. HUE utilizes existing home WiFi, with a bridge device, to communicate directly to LED lights from computers or mobile devices anywhere in the world. HUE color bulbs can create light in 16 million colors, colors can be set individually or part of scenes such as Relax, TV, or Party Mode through HUE Bridge. HUE Bridge is the system’s brain where we set timers for lights to turn on or off in any color or programed scenes. It also connects to other apps so in our home lights change color in sync with scenes in movies, a light flash as the international space station flies overhead, and another light flashes every time the Tampa Bay Rays get a hit and then turns orange when they win a game.
For complete home automation several companies, big and small, have multi-device connectivity; HomeKit from Apple, Brillo from Google, SmartThings from Samsung and Wink a startup company. Each system has partnered with mobile device manufactures and companies who make Lights, switches/outlets, AC/Heating, locks, Security systems, surveillance cameras, garage doors and other household items. Our family has adopted HomeKit, so we can ask Siri to turn on, fade and turn off lights, unlock the front door or adjust the house temperature.
Having an automated home is not necessary to live comfortably but sometimes its makes life easier. “Hey Siri, I am going to bed.” Oops, I have 1 minute before every light in the house turns off. “Hey Siri, turn the lights back on.” “Sorry Charles I don’t understand that command.” “Hey Siri, turn Bedroom light on to 50%.” Wife’s voice from master bedroom “Who is playing with the lights.” Voice from child’s bedroom “It wasn’t me.”
Ok, voice command home automation is not perfect but the convenience of saying “Hey Siri lock the front door” sure is nice at 1:00 in the morning.