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DIY Smart Home

I was really jealous when I read about the way Alexia McKenzie created her own smart home. Not these specific components, but similar ideas that would match my own preferences. I just don’t have the hardware and software skills to pull it off.

She installed a sensor that tells her when a letter arrives. A webcam livestreams a view of her doorstep to her phone, so she always knows who’s knocking. As for laundry, she doesn’t bother — don’t you know there’s an app for that? After years of testing and tinkering, McKenzie has transformed her life into a smooth operation managed by apps and hardware.

Then I read about Stacey Higginbotham’s smart house and I was somewhat convinced that anyone can do it with a little thought and dedication. Then I read what happened to her later and felt schadenfreude-ishly better about my failure to do any of this.

My Take

I would have no problem implanting some smart controllers under my skin (such as Alexia did) if it made life more convenient. Opening a locked door by having an electronic key implanted in my hand would be terrific. I can’t tell you how many packages I have dropped while trying to fish a key out my pocket.

Or having a password manager implanted in a finger so I wouldn’t have to remember passwords but could still create hard to hack strong ones. To prevent hacking it could have a very short range and require the correct DNA tags in the blood around it (gross, but important to consider).

I also like the idea of sensors around the house to automatically customize your environment for you. The HVAC that automatically adjusts the temperature when it senses you getting out of bed is an idea that has been around for years. But the bath mat that knows you just turned off the shower so it heats up is a new one for me.

The speech recognition that Stacey uses is also attractive. I am not totally lazy, but there are some times when you just don’t want to get off the couch or put down what you are holding to turn the lights on or turn up the AC.

Stacey also got her Jawbone hooked into her house so that when it detects that she is awake, it turns the lights and the coffee maker on. I didn’t know it could do that.

Your Turn

I don’t know how many of you have the hardware and software skills to do this for yourself, but would you want some of these features in your home? Have you worked on smart homes as a designer? Some of the key design questions I see are:

  • Does implanting sensors and controllers creep too many people out?
  • Would false positives be so annoying that it eliminates any benefits that customization provides?
  • If you can check who is knocking out the door by checking your smart phone video feed and unlock it without even getting up off the couch – is this simply a step too far for laziness?

Image Credit: Maurizio Pesce

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