Yesterday we mowed the lawn. I think about buying one of the automated mowers every single year, I haven’t as of yet, but I may still. We had a Roomba for a long time (nearly three years) but found that automated vacuums struggle with dog hair. The vacuums inability to do anything other than push clumps of dog hair on the floor once it’s tiny “bag” was full made us turn it off and stop using it. I guess we may someday return to the concept but for now, it is a branch we have cut off!
Automation is an interesting problem, in part because technology evolves quickly and in part because automation isn’t a standard that has exact expectations. In the enterprise automation world, we can consider Chef, Puppet or any of the other automation products. In the home automation world, you can consider any one of some standards starting from the control system to the very protocol you are using. The sad thing is the skills don’t translate from one to the other.
Then consider the even broader automation potential of your cellular phone, drone and other things like Kindle and iPod. Kindle has the interesting Whispernet that allows you to sync between various devices where you are in a specific book. The same can be used for Audible books, Dish, Direct, and other TV providers do the same within your home for a show you are watching (that you can resume in another room where you left off). But none of these things are truly automated.
Imagine the house of tomorrow, you get up during the commercial of a soccer match, and the TV channel follows you to the kitchen screen. Or you are listening to music in your car, arrive at home, and the music continues on your home speakers. I called this continuation and talked about it enough that several friends commented that they got it and that I should stop!
But the problem is that automation isn’t easy, and there aren’t standards that allow us to say do it this way, every time. One of the devices that I find interesting right now is the Microsoft Hololens. It is a device that moves easily between AR/VR production and consumption. Where it excels is as an interactive device. There are some other devices in the space, but for the most part, they focus on the growing consumption market.
The problem remains automation that spans everything. Not just automating the things we know about, about adding the ability to quickly automate things that are unknown. The concept of a single box in your house that would allow you to automate everything is interesting. Risky, in that if the box isn’t updated it becomes the easy way for a hacker to walk into your house. Powerful in that you simply change devices and point them at the automation hub. When you alarm rings in the am (or pm for those that work at night) your house will notify you of the housekeeping issues that require human attention. Change the mower’s bag, change the vacuum bag or empty both.
This box would, of course, would also connect your alarm clock, your phone your life. If there is nothing on your weekend calendar, the alarm clock shuts off and lets you sleep in. What calms you the most as you sleep? If you are like me, it depends, understands the concept of moods and help me sleep by changing the environment around me.
Automation of automation that is the next step in the success of smart whatever. If we are going to call things smart XYZ, they better actually be smart.