Friday night topic: How smart is your home?


— 5:02 PM on November 20, 2015

I had an odd, futuristic dream the other day. I waved my keychain at my door and it opened smoothly. Walked into the living room and the lights switched themselves on, their hue warming to match the early evening sunlight. The room was already at my preferred temperature of 75° F, thanks to my learning thermostat.

My phone then turned on my TV, which wasn't even in standby—the power outlet only provides juice when it's needed. Walked back to the clothesbin to drop in my gym clothes and noticed that I was running out of Tide. A single click of a nearby button, and more was on the way. I spoke to my digital assistant, who summarized the day's news for me.

The scenario above could easily be bad science fiction just a few years ago, but smart home gadgets are actually a Thing now, and it looks like they're here to stay. The idea of having your home recognize you and configure itself exactly how you like it is an appealing idea. Likewise, knowing that gadgets will react to changes in their environment could make for a lot less button-pressing and dial-twiddling. The convenience of having consumable items show up at your door with the push of a button is undeniable, too.

Of course, as in any brave new world, there are some considerations we need to keep in mind. Privacy is one of them—after all, how do I know the guys at the smart lock company don't have a master key of their own? Reliability is also a question mark. It's easy to find a locksmith, but if your lock is too smart, you may find yourself sleeping on the doormat if it fails. Your smart smoke alarms might betray you. Then there's interoperability. Everyone talks about the Internet of Things these days, but it's not too hard to imagine a house with appliances that can't talk to one another thanks to vendor lockdown.

Personally, I'm still taking a wait-and-see approach, though Philips' Hue bulbs have certainly caught my eye. Have you invited smart devices into your home already, or do you despise the concept? Let's hear it.

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