Changing Times

The other day I was telling my friend about how I can control any light in my house from the comfort of the sofa, without getting up.  I quickly added that I really didn’t need to even pick up the remote, as my computer will recognize voice commands for the lighting as well.

“Heck”, I opined,  “I can even control the lights from half way around the world via the internet, or even my cell phone.”

“Wow!”, said my friend, “you have got to be the laziest person I have ever met.”

It’s a good thing that I failed to mention that the house tells me every time my furnace runs and calculates the remaining fuel level in the tank out back, or that I can control music in each room via remote, or that the pool fills itself, or that once I contemplated building an automatic toilet flusher with X10 technology.

But it kinda got me thinking, “Is this really laziness, or the next step in the evolution of homes?”

I often wonder what my Great-Grandfather thought when his wife insisted that they be one of the first in rural Brown County, Ohio to get electric lights. (They tapped power from the rail line out back and had to wire the lights in series of four.  Yes, they did it legally.)  I can just hear him extolling the virtues of filling the lamps and manually lighting them with a match every night.  He probably thought that the oil light was healthier too (he was a country doctor).

“Darn fangled lights.  All you have to do is flick a switch and the lights come on in four different rooms!”

Little did old Doc Faul know that the electric light would allow him to see patients in his own office at hours that were more convenient to the patient, and allow him to work in better conditions.

A lot has changed since the 1920’s.  We live with more electric appliances in our home than could be imagined for someone born in the Nineteenth Century.   From the alarm clock that wakes us each morning, to the heating system that runs automatically throughout the night and never needs stoked at 3 am to keep us warm, our homes are more automated today that what any oldtimer who lived through the Depression would like to admit.  I personally, could not function without my Bunn high speed coffee maker.

Has all this made me lazy?  Not in the least bit.  It just allows me more time to be more productive.

So, what does it do for me by voice controlling several Home Automation systems?  Mostly, it’s the coolness factor.  But, as I have spent the better part of the last twenty years volunteering with handicapped children,  I can see new ways to warp the current technology into something that will enable independence for someone who otherwise would have none.  I see the technology providing my wife with added ease of watching the children in the pool via a camera while she cooks lunch in the kitchen.  I see it as a way to keep an eye on the house when we’re away, from the event of a fire or even a simple snapshot of the delivery guy dropping a package at the front door on my phone.  I envision financial savings, by not wasting energy from a forgotten light, or controlling the thermostat when away from home.

You want to call me lazy?  You think I could accomplish all this with the technology of today just by purchasing some items from the internet?  All the projects listed on this site took a great deal of thought and labor.  Most of what’s on the project pages are things that the inventors of the technology never imagined.

Convenience, independence, energy conservation and innovation are just some of the virtues that we extol on our banner as we jump to the next stage in the evolution of the home.  Kinda like they did when Doc Faul first got the electric light.

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