Gateway? Your iPhone. There are plenty of such controls and options available these days but from what I see there is an ugly truth about the so-called smart home. It’s incredibly stupid, complex, and not exactly a revolution.
Some revolutions occur overnight, some occur over a long period of time. My parents had an electric washer and a gas dryer. Their parents had similar devices but the early ones didn’t run on power. Well, hand power. The list of home automation items from yesteryear is not very long. Electricity, refrigerator and freeze, washer and dryer, heating and air conditioning, electric blinds, and, well, not much changed for nearly 100 years.
Today the smart home has more options but still isn’t that smart. I bring this up because of a pair of smart plugs for home appliances that were on sale– two for $15. I call them stupid plugs. What can you plug into them that turns on from a mobile app, or Amazon’s Alexa, Google Assistant, or Apple’s Siri?
Not much. That’s mostly the case because appliances we can plug into the plug often have a switch that is always off until the switch is turned on, but if not on, the switch remains in off mode. Lights are that way. Most appliances, too. Even when they’re plugged in the smart plug does not control the appliance so what’s the point?
My parents live in a smaller home that has two Kenmore smart air conditioners. The old models had a remote control. Point it at the AC and you could easily control on/off, fan speed, Eco mode, and so on. Their new units have such a remote but also an app that works quite well and even has a built-in scheduler. It’s handy but far from smart. Nearly every device that fits into the so-called smart home category has an application that controls various settings.
The Mincey Plantation isn’t exactly backwoods, a bit of yesteryear, with enough wired in options to make life comfortable, but we don’t have electric blinds, and no app controls AC or the limited times we need heating. We have new appliances in the kitchen but not one of them has an associated app, despite all the 21st century-looking controls. Even the new Samsung washer and dryer unit– modern, but not top of the line; those things are damned expensive– does not have an app for remote control.
We did add HomePod to the downstairs family room and, frankly, it can be handy with a few queries to Siri, but Apple even cripples the device so it doesn’t mimic Siri on other devices, and still isn’t smart enough to who is asking questions or giving instructions.
The one line of so-called home automation we like are the Ring doorbells and cameras; front, back, and both sides of the plantation. Those work well and provide the kind of app controls one would expect of the future, but that is as close as it comes, other than a couple of those smart plugs for appliances that have an auto-on function.
The ugly truth about the ‘smart home’ is obvious. It ain’t that smart, it ain’t here yet, and what’s here now could be handled by a pet chimpanzee (higher maintenance costs, though).