Value Propositions for Home Automation
Following last week’s topic on Guide to Z-Wave based home automation in Singapore, I’ve decided to remind my readers to pause and think, instead of writing another guide. For geeks, implementing home automation is satisfying and to fellow enthusiasts, it’s definitely cool. However, when I showed the system to some of my friends and family members, some of the following questions pop up:
- What happens to getting up to turn off the lights?
- What happens if your wifi is down?
- Will the modules use more energy?
- Can someone hack into your network and start playing pranks on your lights?
- Will it cause short circuit and fire?
- Isn’t it more troublesome to turn on/off the lights with your iPhone?
- What happens if your iPhone is down? What happen if your iPod touch is also down? What happen if your Macbook is down?
I did not bother to answer some of the questions posed by some of these techno-phobics there and then. Embracing change is not for everyone especially for light switches, which had worked pretty much the same way since it was invented in 1884.
And for the same reasons they quote, IT’S JUST LIGHTS, the world doesn’t stop spinning if some day you couldn’t turn on the lights because the 8 planets align, somehow your luck runs out, your router, iPhone, iPod, Macbook break down and the modules short circuited, all at the same time.
You will need to take some risks for the conveniences it may bring; similar to how you take the leap of faith to invest in your money, time and dependency on an iPhone/Android smart phone.
For fence sitters, allow me to highlight the following value propositions of home automation, IMO.
Home automation save $$$ : Home automation is not only fun, it saves you money. It does so by conserving electricity and lengthen the lifespan of your electrical appliances – only my fridge, wifi router and home automation controller are power on when I leave my house.
Home automation hides complexity: How many remote controls do you need to pick up to watch cable TV (Starhub or MIO for Singaporean)? You’d get behind the TV console to turn on the power, pick up the TV remote, followed by the sound system remote and then the cable box remote. With home automation, you just need to click on a single button (and another for turning everything off) on your iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad.
The switch is always in your hands: Imagine leaving home for work and not remembering if you have turned off your study lights. Just take out your phone and switch everything off (lor)!
The power is in the scene: Say you reach home in the evening, the living room lights are on the moment you open the door. You turned on your sound system, showered, changed, drank some water in the kitchen and was about to leave home again to meet your friends. Wouldn’t it be nice to just click on a single “Leave Home” scene to turn off the sound system, living room, bedroom and kitchen light? When you want to watch a movie, wouldn’t it be nice if at the tap of your smartphone, lights are dimmed, mood-lights are on, sound system changes to DTS mode and the Blueray menu appears? Nice is an understatement, SHIOK is the word to use.
No more feeling in the dark before bedtime: This was actually the reason I’ve used to sell the idea to my wife. It’s actually a very compelling reason! How nice (shiok) is it to tuck yourself in bed and off the lights with a touch on your iPhone? Wife acceptance factor (WAF) is in fact one of the most important considerations before you start the project! 🙂
Home automation is a lifestyle. To make your home’s automation system more useful, spend some time developing a vision for what it should do and how it will fit into your living habits. Automation systems can often be designed to accommodate the unique needs of different families. Its actually better not to engage a professional if you can configure the system along the way to see what works for you.
You’d find that the conveniences outweigh the unnecessary worries of having something breaking down. I hope I have, with this article, managed to convince some fence sitters to embark on their journey. I’ll return to provide some guide again next week.