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Technology

What People Want From Smart Homes 209

Hallie Siegel writes: Despite the energy savings and environmental friendliness that has often been associated with smart home technologies, a recent poll showed that consumers primarily want their homes to optimize for their comfort level and personal preference (45%). Security/Safety and Energy Savings tied in second place (18%). Environmentally friendliness came in at only 11%. Note that the three most voted choices have direct advantages for the user, as opposed to Environmental Friendliness, which is primarily a societal benefit. What would you look for in a smart home?
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What People Want From Smart Homes

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  • Nothing. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by weilawei ( 897823 ) on Tuesday November 04, 2014 @06:02PM (#48313755) Homepage

    I want my home to be stupid, to not have a telescreen, and to not track me or sell my habits to third parties. ;)

    • Re:Nothing. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anrego ( 830717 ) * on Tuesday November 04, 2014 @06:11PM (#48313815)

      Yup.

      Personally I'd be way more open to this stuff if it didn't want an internet connection.

      Ultimately I see very little practical application for any of this anyway. As I said in a previous comment, I played around with home automation "back in the day" and while it's nifty, it doesn't really add a whole lot of value outside of some very specialized use cases.

      • I don't know - with the research they've done over the past few decades about circadian rhythm, I can see a lot of benefit from lighting that responds in both intensity and color to time and or motion. Likewise with HVAC. But neither of these needs the outside 'net.

        Where I really see benefit from external communication would be mostly Boolean data such as whether the kids made it home from school, is there a break in the dog's underground fence line, is moisture pooling where it's not supposed to, or whet

        • Re:Nothing. (Score:4, Informative)

          by TWX ( 665546 ) on Tuesday November 04, 2014 @06:54PM (#48314041)
          Fairly simple sensor equipment on the house could help you with those though, and we've been able to send notifications via all manner of methods for years and years, via technology as low-end as 9600 baud TAP gateways through your cell provider worst-case.

          You could monitor humidity in known problem areas like near hot water heaters and HVAC condensate drip pans with simple sensors fed by a two-wire solution. You could monitor wind speed and direction, plus temperature and rainfall through an automated weather station that sits on the roof. You could monitor basements and other low places for flooding with simple sensors that could also pack-in CO and fire safety. You could install RFID interrogators at the exterior doors and put RFID tags on your kids' backbacks (or use the ones built in to clothes or shoes or the like) to know when they've passed through the doorway, and you could even compare their RFID tag versus no tag when the doors are opened to know if someone else is entering. You could even use heat sensors to turn off lights in rooms that people have vacated and to turn off multimedia equipment like video projectors when no one is there to watch, if you're really feeling fancy, control the HVAC ducting to stop excessively cooling spaces that no one is using, like spare bedrooms, offices, workshops, dining rooms, kitchens, etc.

          None of those features requires an Internet connection to use, though for convenience the ability to notify the owner could be handy. A quick e-mail or text message would be enough for most, and for things like potentially unauthorized entry, a camera picture could help the homeowner avoid false-positives with the alarm company and police.

          What I really want a home to do though, is to clean itself. Self-clean the toilets, the sinks, the shower and bathtub, the tile, the carpet, the kitchen, and to be able to lift dust off of things and dispose of it. Do the laundry and sort/fold/hang it. That would be where the usefulness to homeowners comes in, not trinkets to automate processes that already aren't really inconvenient. It might also be convenient if the home recognizes the owner when he or she arrives, and lets them in without needing a key or other 'thing you have' on one's person.
          • You spray it on stuff that you want water free , dust free, mud free, oil free. Everything will run off it and stay clean.

            http://www.nanotec-usa.com/ [nanotec-usa.com]

          • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) *

            I'm currently installing a floodlight for my driveway so I can park a bit easier and see to plug in the car's charge cable. I'm using a standard RF remote control to turn it on manually from the car, because there isn't really any better option at the moment. PIR sensors seem unreliable with EVs, and you end up having them either turn on every time someone walks past or not come on until well after you need them.

            I'd love a simple system that noticed my phone was pulling up to the driveway and turned the lig

          • Re:Nothing. (Score:5, Funny)

            by Translation Error ( 1176675 ) on Wednesday November 05, 2014 @09:19AM (#48317101)

            What I really want a home to do though, is to clean itself. Self-clean the toilets, the sinks, the shower and bathtub, the tile, the carpet, the kitchen, and to be able to lift dust off of things and dispose of it.

            But a really smart home will eventually realize the most efficient way to keep the house clean is to eliminate the people and pets in it...

        • Re:Nothing. (Score:5, Informative)

          by cayenne8 ( 626475 ) on Tuesday November 04, 2014 @07:14PM (#48314149) Homepage Journal

          Where I really see benefit from external communication would be mostly Boolean data such as whether the kids made it home from school,

          You know, more and more I'm glad I grew up in a day before you could so easily be tracked as a kid, and no cell phones, etc.

          It made it more fun to be a kid. Sure, I was mischievous, and well, frankly, some of the things we did as kids and teens would likely be categorized as borderline terrorism...but it was a part of growing up. Experimenting and well...just being a kid at the time.

          When young, I would leave the house, go play with friends roam mine and the adjacent neighborhood...first on foot, then bike and skateboard. When really young, my Mom's basic rule was to call from a friend's home every couple hours to check in. When older, not really even that. My parents both worked, and I'd come home from school alone or go play with friends. During the summers as a teen...I'd be at home on my own, run with friends, make my own lunches...etc.

          It was fun having that independence and I never got into what you would call trouble, no more than just being a boy growing up.

          Nowdays...geez, I guess mine (and all my peers at the time) parents would be cited for child neglect.

          Ok....now..GET OFF MY LAWN.

          ;)

      • by TWX ( 665546 )
        Knowing my luck, when I'd use my Internet-connected Clapper to turn off the last light when going to bed it'd start playing anti-gonorrhea ads due to the poorly programmed ad-personalization algorithm.
      • Personally I'd be way more open to this stuff if it didn't want an internet connection. Ultimately I see very little practical application for any of this anyway.

        I bought and am using a Ninja Block, and use it for keeping an eye on my vegetable garden (soil moisture), remotely controlling appliances, hot water etc when I'm away, home security, and simple stuff like switching on overhead fans from my phone. For me at least, it's a very practical tool.
        https://ninjablocks.com/#home/ [ninjablocks.com]

        Mine's connected to the internet so I can get alerts and manage my home from my phone, but I understand they can run air-gapped if you want to keep it off grid. In my case, given it's

      • by plover ( 150551 )

        You can certainly get some home automation systems that are cloud-optional. I have a Vera, which is an (overpriced) DD-WRT box, and it doesn't need internet access. You can get to it from outside the house via VPN, or you can use their SSL site to access it if you want. It runs the lights, sensors, and stuff like that. There are some proprietary devices with local interfaces of varying quality.

        Some closed source devices want to phone home, just not to your home. Honeywell, Samsung, Craftsman, they don't hav

    • by golodh ( 893453 )
      @Weilawei

      So do I, but the mainstream seems to be moving towards something very different.

      As in: the majority of consumers seems to want maximum "comfort" (read: "ease of use and no hassle", a.k.a. "I'm lazy and dumb so I need smart appliances"), and that's what industry will provide (on pain of being marginalised and ultimately disappearing).

      And guess what? Ease of use and "no hassle" means offloading lots of detailed control decisions to the manufacturer. And that means that said manufacturer has got

  • Yup (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anrego ( 830717 ) * on Tuesday November 04, 2014 @06:04PM (#48313767)

    Isn't this what we all figured out back in the x10/smarthome days. After you get over the gee-wiz star trek appeal, there's very little that we actually want to automate, and most of those things are already well handled by stand alone devices which benifit very little from integration. My automatic coffee maker and thermostat don't need an internet connection, and having lights come on automatically when you walk in the room is cool and nifty, for about 20 minutes, then it is overcome by the annoyance of the lights turning off all the time because occupancy sensors suck. Sure we can try to make up justifications, and there may be some people who legitimately have a valid use case, but I think this is gonna be home automation fad part 2.

    My old x10 gear still makes an appearance around Christmas, and I still use some of it in my bedroom to control the lights and ceiling fan from my bed, but my (at one time) expensive ocelot controller and like a few dozen various bits sit in a box collecting dust.

    (Also usual warning that x10 is a terrible system that I wouldn't recommend to an enemy).

    • Re:Yup (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Dutch Gun ( 899105 ) on Tuesday November 04, 2014 @06:48PM (#48314013)

      From the article:

      General Electric, in particular, entered smart lighting market with the introduction of GE Link, a smart LED bulb that consumers can remotely control from anywhere in the world and sync with other connected devices.

      Wow, really? A bulb you can remotely control from anywhere in the world, huh? And I'll bet the service that let's us do all that will only cost us $9.99 a month, right? What a bargain. I mean, I've always wanted to turn my kitchen light on or off from the grocery store. That's going to be so handy!

      Meh. At some point, this phase 2 of the home automation fad will probably boil down to a few practical gizmos that people find useful, and history will simply laugh at our "smart bulbs" for the ridiculous overkill it represents in attempted convenience.

      • As smart tvs get better and more capable, built in wifi/bt android OS etc...

        They will be the control hubs of the home, they will IP chat to your consoles, or PCs, or wifi lights, anything. Even running the apps when tv is off (no power even, with 2 AA batteries to keep running during outages/storms)

        Of course the korean companies will all talk to each other. Sony will make something totally custom and 3x the cost.
        China will make it on every tv, but with poor security.

      • home automation will explode when apple home kit comes on the scene. that will be when everything starts to make sense.

        • Maybe. Apple has a way of bringing established technologies and making them appeal to the mass market rather than a geeky niche. That's exactly what they've done with Apple Pay, for example - their contribution wasn't inventing the systems, but integrating it and bringing together the coalition of banks to support it. They'll take the basic concepts X10 pioneered, except it won't be crap. They'll be expensive high end toys, but they'll probably work extremely well and will be relatively simple to use.

          Mo

    • I think that we figured out that there's nothing we'd spend the money to automate well, and it's not worth automating things poorly.

      Sooner or later it will be cheap to automate it all, and then we'll have automated stuff. And for a long time it will be a security nightmare.

      • by Anrego ( 830717 ) *

        That may be fair. In my case I accepted the shittiness of x10 and actually had a working system, I just hit the "ok, now what" point. Of course I don't really fall into a lot of the use cases where automation would be useful, it was just a fun toy to play with.

        I can accept that products will get "smarter" over time, and centrally controlled lighting/temperature with some smart elements will just become the norm. I can also accept that more and more devices will become internet connected and have gimmicky ph

    • by 6Yankee ( 597075 )
      the annoyance of the lights turning off all the time because occupancy sensors suck

      ...which is why the one in my office has a paper coffee-cup duct-taped over it and I bought a small desk lamp with an old-school switch. All the offices here have these sensors. But all the toilets, where you don't want to touch anything, have wall switches - even in the individual cubicles.
    • I would love my coffee maker and thermostat connected to the Internet, assuming that it would come with an alarm clock that sets my coffee to be ready the moment my alarm clock rings and my thermostat to have the house warm at that same moment.
      That way if I sleep in it will be automatically ready at the right time.

      Having said that: the only internet connected coffee maker I have seen was incredibly stupid. It was an office automated thing that needed internet to work but didn't tell the supplier that the co

    • by gregmac ( 629064 )

      I've done some X10 in the past, but now all my stuff is Insteon (and most dual-band, which actually works quite reliably). I have a few things installed in my house now, which while they are part of an "automation system" I'm not sure I'd call it a "smart home":

      * Keypad by the front door
      * Has a button that both shows if the garage door is opened/closed and can open/close it
      * Has an 'all off' that turns off the kitchen / living room lights
      * Can control the outside

  • Two Things Only (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jamesl ( 106902 ) on Tuesday November 04, 2014 @06:07PM (#48313793)

    I want a home that cooks and cleans. Cooks and cleans. I can take care of the rest.

  • by FudRucker ( 866063 ) on Tuesday November 04, 2014 @06:17PM (#48313855)
    i am basically going to buy one of those big fancy storage buildings that dont have plumbing or electric installed, park it on some land in a secluded spot out in the middle of nowhere, buy some insulation and sheetrock, and some wiring 12vdc and fix it up with solar panels, but i am only going to run automotive grade stuff, like a AM/FM/CDplayer made for a car for a home stereo unit, 12 volt DC lights, etc... and use solar panels to keep a bank of batteries charged up, i am going off the grid (mostly) soon, i got to cut my living expenses or end up living on skidrow with the rest of the homeless, i already am working on drawing up plans for solar heated water and a composting latrine (all legal too)
    • Make sure you also write a manifesto and grow your beard.
    • i got to cut my living expenses or end up living on skidrow with the rest of the homeless

      To me this reads as money-management problem, which means that moving into a storage shed is an evasion not a solution.

      I was raised on a farm --- and like our neighbors ---- the question was never "if" you would need the volunteer firemen, an ambulance, a sheriff's deputy, or the state police, but only "when," and "how soon can they get here?"

  • I want a house that will allow me to be as lazy as I want. A TV room on every floor, with room for a couch big enough to stretch out in? I want that. Dishwasher with garbage disposal? Yep, that too. Enough counter space so that I can make dinner with enough horizontal space that I don't have to use the kitchen table too? Yes please. I'd also like a large detached garage, as laziness is an indoor hobby (or at least in the house) and the garage is where work happens. Running water, electricity and plumbing?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    That's great! Now that we know what people want from smart homes, here is the matching list of what major corps / the NSA wants from smart homes:

    * Knowing when you are home or away (43%)
    * Being able to monitor and data-mine any in-house audio (88%)
    * Locking down your stove/microwave into a "pay per cooking-minute plan" (55%)
    * Facial recognition of your real-life friends network (66%)
    * Ability to turn on any web cams remotely for terrorist protection (51%)

    I predict one of these groups will get their wishes.

  • secret passages (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Sri Ramkrishna ( 1856 ) <sriram.ramkrishna@gmai l . c om> on Tuesday November 04, 2014 @06:28PM (#48313921)
    I want a home with secret passage ways.
    • My wife is quite adamant about having the entryway into our bedroom to look like a TARDIS.

      • by karnal ( 22275 )

        I'm confused. Adamant that she WANTS it to look like a TARDIS, or adamant that she DOESN'T WANT it to look like a TARDIS?

        Cause choice #1 above isn't the worst thing in the world.

  • I think that would be one of the most convenient improvements. If you're carrying something like a plate into another room, doors open in front of you. And automatically closing doors would improve climatization.

    Also, automatic windows in hot countries. Where I live it's still hot at the time to go to sleep, but cool during the night. So I rigged my windows to automatically open when outside temperature falls enough. Integrating with the AC is my next project.

    • by Zynder ( 2773551 )
      When you say "rigged" what do you mean? Did you just use linear actuators like these [servocity.com] or was there a more MacGyver type solution?
  • At the heart I want a super computer running the house in much the same way that Jarvis does in Tony Stark's home. Voice recognition and good sound in every room. A house database that keeps track of everything about the house and captures information for prosperity about my life. It should handle all communications, voice, video and fax and keep records of all that. I've started to build a website to capture all the ideas for it. I'm a currently homebody living out of an apartment. I see customizing a sma
    • With my luck, I'd get The Toaster [wikia.com].

      TT helped Holly double his original IQ but shortened his life to three and a half minutes. He won 793 consecutive chess games against Holly. During this time, the Toaster also saved the crew from death: while Holly was a genius, he explained to the Toaster how to escape from a Black Hole, information which later came in useful when the crew encountered one. The Toaster did not, however, merely volunteer this information: it practically tortured the crew by forcing them to eat ridiculous amounts of toast before talking (The Cat later explains that the toast was burnt, cold and soggy). When the crew is attacked by a polymorph, and the crew loses a certain emotion (Rimmer loses his anger, Lister loses his fear, The Cat loses his vanity and Kryten loses his guilt), the Toaster is destroyed by Kryten before the Polymorph is destroyed and their personalities are returned to normal - except for Talkie Toaster.

      Talkie Toaster was subsequently repaired, but its personality circuits were damaged to the point where it believed it was a moose, and was reduced to making loud bellowing noises and threatening to charge the crew with its antlers.

  • My home is made of wood, iron nails, a mix of sand/limestone/rocks, baked clay, and some asphalt coated fiberglass pads on top. Bacteria might have a time eating the asphalt but I'm confident they'll eventually get the job done.

    Residential energy use is about 22% of all energy use in the USA, and half of that is from natural gas. Yay, it's environmentally friendly.

    • by mspohr ( 589790 )

      Unfortunately, natural gas is not environmentally friendly. We've been lied to by the fracking industry (surprise!). Natural gas does have less CO2 than coal but it still emits CO2. The worse part is that natural gas itself is 34 times as potent as CO2 in the global warming department and fracking is particularly "leaky" leading to lots of this greenhouse gas in the atmosphere.
      So... we need to get off of all fossil fuels, including natural gas.

      • Natural gas is far more friendly than coal or oil. It is a minor player in global warming compared to co2 and water vapor. Fracking has exaggerated issues in most cases, as for real probable problems just some few local ones.

        We're not getting rid of fossil fuels for the next half century at least, and the only viable alternative for driving civilization and progress forward is nuclear fission, while "green" energy maybe getting to twenty percent of the total.

  • by sjames ( 1099 ) on Tuesday November 04, 2014 @06:41PM (#48313973) Homepage Journal

    I want a candelabra. When I turn the switch on, gas jets should light the candles. When I turn the switch off, a snuffer should put them out.

    But I'm not willing to spend the kind of money it would take for a novelty item, so I guess nothing.

  • by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Tuesday November 04, 2014 @06:44PM (#48313995) Homepage

    Environmentally friendliness came in at only 11%. Note that the three most voted choices have direct advantages for the user, as opposed to Environmental Friendliness, which is primarily a societal benefit.

    So, in other words, the smart home is a self-indulgent thing, then?

    What would you look for in a smart home?

    Privacy and freedom from external entities having analytics data about how I live in my home.

    Pretty much the exact opposite of what the people pitching the smart home want. Google and Nest and all of these other companies want access to your data, not to make your life any better.

    Sorry, but I don't trust the players enough to care about the game.

    • So, in other words, the smart home is a self-indulgent thing, then?

      Yes, frankly. Welcome to the human race.

      I'm old enough to remember when TVs had dials on them to change the channel and it was only the invalid who had remotes for the TV. Show a person a TV with a remote and the first thing they'd say is, "I'm not so lazy that I can't get up and change the channel." A remote for the TV was an indulgence. Nowadays? It's a requirement.

      So, yeah, first priority for me would be convenience. But much of that convenience would be in the realm of saving energy--which could b

  • Who asked? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Nobody asked for a "smart home". Or a self-driving car. Or phones that track us. Or cameras on every corner. Or internet activity records. Or the smart TVs and appliances with mics that will record our coversations (it's in the EULA for smart TVs - "be careful what you say around our TV") NO ONE asked for these things. They are being rammed into us.

  • When I flip an old-fashioned switch, the lights turn on. Every. Single. Time. For 50 years without fail. I want that kind of simplicity and reliability. But I want it to do everything. Temperature, lighting, music (or silence), automatic maintenance, fix/change/update without interaction from me and with mission critical fail safe reliability.

    • by rthille ( 8526 )

      In 50 years you never had a bulb fail? I'm skeptical...

      • by ledow ( 319597 )

        Bulbs are consumables.

        And any automated system would have the same number of failures in that regard.

        The SWITCH however, and the electrics behind it - no problem going 50 years without maintenance.

        I've been in houses with 1920's wiring. With 1930's plug sockets. Nobody bothered to change it because it worked.

      • he's talking about the switch, not the bulb
  • Status Updates (Score:4, Interesting)

    by cdu13a ( 95385 ) on Tuesday November 04, 2014 @06:49PM (#48314017)

    Pretty much all that I want from a smart home, is the ability to be notified if things break or go wrong when I'm not there.

    I couldn't care less about anything else, I just want to know when I need to get my ass home to fix something, or deal with a disaster.

    Being able to get a notification as soon as the freezer fails, or the sump pump fails, or the furnace fails would make a big difference in just how shitty your day is going to end up being.

    • by vux984 ( 928602 )

      Being able to get a notification as soon as the freezer fails, or the sump pump fails, or the furnace fails would make a big difference in just how shitty your day is going to end up being.

      Murphy's law dictates that whatever you aren't monitoring will be what fails. And if you monitor "everything" then the monitoring system itself will fail.

      I generally share your sentiment, but reality is a bitch sometimes. :)

    • Being able to get a notification as soon as the freezer fails, or the sump pump fails, or the furnace fails would make a big difference in just how shitty your day is going to end up being.

      lol True point.

  • What people need vs what they want are two different things.
  • That's what I want
  • I want my house to manage:
    How much water to use for washing dishes/clothes, and at what temperature (more a function of the individual appliances than the house really).
    Power sources (grid, solar, wind, gas), and when each should be used.

    And that's about it. I really don't want my house trying to decide for me when my lights need turning on and off, or telling someone else about it.

    • Your wife is wrong. Nine times out of ten you can sit and watch the fire and forget about the problem. It will go away or someone else will address it.
  • Think about what a smart home can do and then think about cars and stores being smart as well and combine the results. For example Joe Good is a suspect in a crime. Joe lives alone so no in the flesh alibi exists to testify as to where he was at the time of the crime. But a smart home could recall the number of times the refrigerator door opened, how many times the toilet flushed, when the doors opened or closed and much more. So we would have a really strong proof that Joe was at home at the t
  • If you want "environmental friendliness", get rid of your AC and set your heat to just warm enough to keep the pipes from freezing. Cold? Wear a sweater. And some gloves. And long johns. And an overcoat. Won't kill you.

  • What would you look for in a smart home?

    First of all: reliability. The house must be able to retain all its functionality during a power outage.

    After that I want security. It must be impervious to unwanted intrusion: either physical or hackers.
    Next comes self-cleaning - probably the biggest chore after home maintenance. This would include cleaning the household appliances, too
    Talking of maintenance, the house must never, ever require a software upgrade.
    After that we can start talking about useful features such as tending the garden, washing

    • by ledow ( 319597 )

      Personally, my first thought is "control".

      When I don't want something to happen, I don't want to be overridden... ever.

      When I do want something to happen, I want it to happen, no matter what.

      The problem I see with smart homes, and automation in general, is that we're considered too stupid to have control of such a complex system, so we don't get it.

      With control can come reliability. If I can control what stays up and what doesn't in a power cut, that's useful to me. If the lights stay on but the heating g

  • Energy efficiency is a hard concept to directly explain. One of my favorite energy savings devices is a dimmer for the front light that is 100% just before dusk, and ramps down to 60% when I am generally home, then 25% until an hour after bedtime, then off. My neighbor has a bright bulb that she just leaves on all the time. When it comes down to it, efficiency is comfort people don't underst.

  • Oh gods, another sales drone trying to raise the non-issue of how we can cram irrelevant technology into people's lives, so they can suck a larger part of our blood?

    I think most of us realise that the home serves a number of intensely practical purposes: preparing food, eating food, sleeping etc. Just take the kitchen, where probably the most technical gear is concentrated, even if we don't quite think of it as such: cookers, ovens, mixers and what have you. A good kitchen is a workshop, first and foremost,

  • For example:
    - Manage inventory of groceries (I hate to discover that there's no milk in the morning with hungry kids and no time for shopping)
    - Warn if I forget to lock the door and started moving away it (I hate to go back up just to check I haven't forgotten)
    - Turn off ALL lights when I'm going out (hate to scan all the rooms or feel bad if I don't)

    There's more, of course.

  • by msobkow ( 48369 ) on Wednesday November 05, 2014 @07:57AM (#48316593) Homepage Journal

    I programmed an automation system for a 1.5 million dollar house a few years back. The owner spent gobs of money running extra wiring from every light, outlet, and socket to the central control circuit panel that ran most of the functionality. They sprang for 4 CAT6 lines to each room, with a fiber drag to supplement "future expansion", all of which ran to a router in the basement (Cisco, no less) and to a PBX system.

    After the whiz-bang wore off in a month, the owner really regretted spending close to $150,000 on the automation. In the end, the only thing even his wife really liked was the automated drape controls and the cameras monitoring the property. All the fancy light dimmers and thermostats were more of a pain to use and set up than their analogue counterparts, and the remote was so complex that they didn't use it at all because it was far easier to just walk to the wall controller and use that.

    Automation has always been more of a whiz-bang for a select few than a real necessity for anyone. For the most part, having tri-wired switches with switches at each of the two entries to a room is more than adequate for "automation."

    The owner's kids absolutely hated the automation -- it was impossible to sneak in late at night without all the lights coming on and alerting Mom and Dad to just how late it was when they got home. :D

  • by Controlio ( 78666 ) on Wednesday November 05, 2014 @09:15AM (#48317063)

    The reason I don't own Nest or any other "learning" gear is two fold. First, I don't want any third party to know my settings and be able to deduce when I'm home. Second - and more importantly - I don't want my devices to "think" for me.

    I keep a very irregular schedule that is the polar opposite of my wife. I work nights, she works days. My work nights vary wildly (I'm a contractor), hers do not (minus holidays or professional development days). Any "learning" a thermostat does in our household will be wrong.

    For this purpose, I homebrewed a thermostat. I have an Omnistat with serial control, and I wrote a Raspberry Pi interface to talk to it. I then wrote an Android app to interface to the Raspberry Pi, so I can control the thermostat from inside the home or outside.

    Why did I go to all of that trouble? Because there is no product on the market that fits my two criteria - no outside party data collecting, and no "thinking".

    Seriously, why is this so hard? I understand the want to make things simple for the non-techies out there... but why in the world can't you offer me the option to strip everything away and use the thermostat in the simplest manner possible?

    I'm having the same problem with lighting control right now. I would like a GPI contact closure to turn on/off an LED light dimmer, but never inhibit its ability to be turned on locally. You may say "Z-Wave!" or any of the other RF controls out there. The problem is that none of these meet my criteria for dimmable LED lighting: the fact that I hate software dimmers, and the ability to turn on/off a light to the set dim point without being able to inhibit the light from being turned on locally. All I want is a physical dimming slider and an on/off switch - not a software dimmer that gradually fades the output up and down and that you have to stare at LEDs to set once the unit is on. If I can't hit the switch and have an instant on with 100% certainty at what dimming level the light will pop on at, I don't want it.

    My next house project will be a low voltage relay to grab the sunrise/sunset times, and turn my exterior LV lights on at sunset + 30min, and off at sunrise - 30min. Nothing outside of a photosensor does that now, and it doesn't do it reliably (think cloudy days, snow cover, etc). So I will homebrew it. And be happy.

    Give me total control of my devices, with no "thinking" whatsoever. That's all I want in home automation. No one is doing that right now, and it frustrates me to no end.

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