walkitout (walkitout) wrote,

Home Automation

Two years ago, I went through a long process of decluttering, decorating, painting (okay, hiring someone to paint) and furniture replacement. Some home automation happened sort of peripheral to that project. We set up the Chamberlain MyQ and had a _ton_ of problems that didn't resolve until R. completely reset everything and reprogrammed. We think we picked up someone else's garage door during the first round of programming, so the door kept opening (or closing) at odd hours, which from a security perspective was kinda terrifying but because the app would send an alert when it happened was basically very manageable.

Eventually, we also put a keypad outside, so we only very rarely use the app anymore (mostly when I get a loaner car and forget to bring a button with me). This has some nice side effects: babysitters have no trouble getting in, and it is now actually impossible for me to lock myself out of my own house (you can laugh ... if you're mean). We also have a Nest, which is nice, because we can turn the heat/AC off for a trip, but then turn it back on enough hours before our return that we are comfortable (and, if we remember, we can program it to be reasonable for when other people will be in the house during our absence).

This is all very nice. I attempted to get one of those camera doorbells set up, but R. balked for mostly good reasons. I'd still like to do that, because one of the major uses for being able to lock and unlock the house while not home is to let people in who are there to fix something, without requiring me to be home the entire four plus hour window that they might show up. I can go for a walk, for example, or go grocery shopping, or whatever, without missing the chance to get whatever it is working again. Right now, I tell whoever is coming to call me on their way/on arrival if I think I won't be there and it mostly works, but a doorbell would be kinda cool -- and a doorbell would also have the feature of letting me text a neighbor to move the package into the house after delivery (or, conceivably, unlock the door, let the delivery person drop it inside, and then relock it after).

When we were visiting family over T-weekend, we got to experience the Echo, which T. is excited about because it will tell knock knock jokes. Now, that is a pretty good reason to buy a piece of home automation. It will not, apparently, interact with our garage door (MyQ) yet (which is a serious bummer). It will play Prime Music, which I almost never use, but I could certainly go through the appalling dance to get all my iTunes music over into Prime and then that might be useful. It will do weather and news, which seems cool. And I _think_ it will play well with the Nest. But the more I think about it, the more I think that the single best feature of the Echo might be that it will work with those light switches.

Which means that the next time I head downstairs, I don't have to bark my shins in the dark or turn lights on upstairs that might wake other people up to go downstairs and find light switches. Or (which is what I currently do) bring a flashlight. I can head downstairs and say, turn on the lights to the Echo, and if I put the kitchen light on a wifi switch, It Should Just Work. And upon returning to bed, the reverse.

Given my experience with other home automation, I'm sure there will be unpleasant surprises along the way.
Tags: our future economy today

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