Big Rapids and Mecosta County Area Home Automation — Ideally, Smart (but not Too Smart!)

          Home automation is going mainstream.

          There: I said it. We all knew it would happen, but some of us hoped it would happen later.   The prospect of our house being smarter than we are has been out there since as far back as when the first Terminator movie hit VHS (or was it Beta? Or Betamax?)…

          Anyway, the “Smart House” idea has always had such a science-fictiony patina, it allowed many Big Rapids and Mecosta County area homeowners the valiant hope that the whole thing might be delayed — at least until there was a flying car parked in every garage.   Now it looks like our hopes are soon to be dashed.   At least, that seemed to be the news coming out of Spain last week.

          According to reports from last week’s Mobile World Congress assembled in Barcelona, “the IoT was pervasive.”   If you haven’t heard what “the IoT” is, maybe you’d better sit down—

          The IoT is short for “the Internet of Things.”   It’s a logical development.   For home automation to go mainstream, every smart part of it has to communicate, one way or another, with everything else.   Home Wi-Fi plus the web opens many possibilities. “M2M” devices are ones that use a wireless network… well, you get the idea.   When your Smart Refrigerator needs to tell you it is about to run out of 1% milk, it has to let your Smartphone know, right?   Or else message your car’s digital console. Or else tell the Smart Grocery Store to send a drone over… Since all those are Things, and the best way to transfer information is through the Internet… voila!   The Internet of Things.

          More news from Barcelona will follow, but first I hasten to mention that there are lots of current useful innovations for Big Rapids and Mecosta County area homeowners; innovations that are smart — but not so smart that anyone needs to feel threatened.   For instance, heating and cooling are perfect for IOT.   The ability to control your energy-eating heating and cooling devices via your smartphone can already save a lot on utility bills.   Older automated systems relied on painstaking day-by-day (and even hour-by-hour) programming, yet still didn’t account for changes in schedule.   With a phone-triggered remote command system, you can work late at the office yet easily delay home heating or cooling until just before you get home.

          Web-enabled home security systems make possible inexpensive remote monitoring by professionals — or even clever innovations like the one that rings your phone when someone approaches the front door, or lets you answer a doorbell ring from your phone.   It can sound like you’re on the intercom inside the house.   Would-be burglars hate that one (even more than the automated Rottweiler barking setups) …

          But back to the news from Barcelona, with exhibitors’ demo devices embodying the latest ideas for what we will be needing when the IoT really gets going.   Smart tape measures to beam measurements to your phone; wearable trackers that eavesdrop on your children (a “smart bracelet for children”); “Petfit” for overweight dogs (it keeps track of your pet’s steps, but, unfortunately, is not water resistant yet); Samsung’s internet fridge (with a 21” screen that displays—well, a shopping list) …

          Actually, when you wade into the details, maybe the IoT isn’t quite ready to overwhelm our Big Rapids and Mecosta County area castles, at least not just yet.   Home automation may still be limited to truly useful innovations for a while — those that are smart, but not too smart — the kind that add clear value to a home when it’s time to sell.   When that future occasion arises, I hope you (or the refrigerator) will remember to call me!

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Terry Reeves

Terry Reeves

Real Estate Professional
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