what home automation offers – introduction

When you look for home automation equipment you find many systems. They turn on lights and plug sockets; water the garden; unlock a door, turn up the heating; record a security camera, open the garage or play music in every room. The use-cases are variably compelling. Need everything be life-changing? Let’s list some easy to do examples:

  • Turn on my printer upstairs remotely because it takes 5 minutes to warm up and I’m saved a few trips between the printer and my PC.
  • Turn off the laptop charger socket twice a day to ensure it’s not left charging.
  • Turn off lights and devices after midnight.
  • Turn off the iron after an hours use
  • Change the colour of the porch light depending on the coming weather – white for snow; blue for freezing; orange for warm and purple for rain.
  • Get an alert when there’s post in the letter box. Get an alert when heating oil needs to be ordered. Get an alert when electricity use is unusually high
  • Turn on multiple kitchen lights when you enter; turn them off later. If you enter the kitchen at night, turn on just the floor lights so that people aren’t disturbed.
  • Switch the dim levels on the room lights and the table lamps when the TV comes on
  • See how much fuel or electric charge is in the car and get a notification when you need to do something
  • Lock the car while you’re in the cinema because you’re not sure if you actually locked it.
  • Get the set top box to record a film even though you’re away on holiday,
  • Remember your favourite temperature and set it. But don’t warm the house when no-one’s home. Show the room temperature on a graph over time to see if I’m wasting energy
  • Tell me the weather; today’s diary; time of the next train; or my broadband speed

what do you mean by smart? When is a smart socket a daft socket?

Home automation ought to mean that some of your tasks are decided and managed for you. To use a phone app to turn off a plug socket isn’t automation – though it’s clever. If I’m miles away it is also compellingly useful.

I take ‘smart’ to mean that a device connects to the network and that in turn provides extra capabilities. You probably have a thermometer somewhere at home. Having a smarter version of it lets you start something when a certain temperature is shown. The device would be ‘smart’ if that was useful and ‘daft’ if it turned out to be a wasted opportunity. These pages show that the things we use can be improved and that it’s good to do things economically. If you’re ready to actually make things, work through the steps below. If you want to know a best way to proceed first see > intro2.

image credits: Google Home mini – photo by Thomas Kolnowski on Unsplash

1 Response

  1. Hi Roger! Amazing website. Glad to see you are as active as ever.
    Here’s a blast from the past. Data-logging. I opened your book the other day and reminded myself of our collaboration with Insight years ago. For 5 years now I have been busy with the BBC micro:bit and reviving my control software. See http://www.insight-mrbit.com. More recently I have returned to look at data-logging, this time with the micro:bit. See http://www.insight-ilog.com.
    It would be great to catch up and swap notes.

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