The Costs Of Smarts
Before I tech-splain, I should state for the record that my phone is a smartphone – I love it! It’s the only “smart” thing I have.
But a smart-home?
All your household appliances down to your light-switch get smart with built-in wi-fi and mircochips. They’re interconnected to your smartphone. This makes your smart-home more efficient and convenient. And it puts you in more control. Great, right?
But there’s a big downside: it adds new complexity to your home and life. With every extra processor, modem, and other silicon wizardry, your once simple devices have new points of failure. Your thickened wi-fi mesh network – the internet of things – becomes a stickier web of technology, weighing on your house like a wet blanket.
Recall all the frustrations you’ve ever had while using your desktop computer. Now extend those to your entire home! You don’t wanna need to reboot your house! That’s the complexity I’m getting at.
So I’m not entirely sold on the idea of a smart-home. Besides adding technical difficulties, it also adds cost.
Buying more tech – smarter gizmos – increases your expenses. The home budget must balloon. I like tech, but I don’t like being broke.
Aren’t some devices better off “dumb?”
The smart-TV isn’t so smart. Consolidating an internet connected device (like Roku) into your TV box – 2 become 1 – is a nice way to simplify.
But since the “smart” part of the TV is a computery-thing, it needs to be updated. And it soon becomes obsolete. Then you must throw out your otherwise perfectly good working TV because, in effect, it has become “dumb” again!
This extends beyond the TV. Any gadget you integrate with a web connection or an app system risks becoming obsolete sooner than later.
The “dumb” light-switch in my wall today is the same one from decades ago. Not only does it work in the same way, it still just works! That is smart.
Internet Of Things
There is a growing industry and market towards the Internet of Things – IOT. So all your common housewares become wi-fi enabled or have voice activated A.I. digital assistants to make them “smart.”
But this market is slow to take off. And that’s because of standards.
Different companies – Apple, Google, Amazon, Microsoft – want to capitalize on IOT. For all your housewares to work together “smartly,” there must be standards.
Which company will win your home and rule it with smart tech, or can you mix it up? Can you ask Amazon Alexa to speak your schedule from your Apple calendar? Will Google Assistant dictate email using your Microsoft account? Things get confusing.
Simple Is Smart
My dumb-watch is smart because: it never needs to be charged. Simple.
My dumb-light-switch is smart because: it works with the flip of a switch. Simple.
My dumb-TV is smart because: it’s agnostic thus able to display anything. Simple.
I don’t mean to oversimplify the above devices – they are a form of technology after all. My point is that there’s intelligence in simplicity.
I don’t want to over-tech (over-engineer) things. Some stuff will be too smart for its own good.
I might buy into a smart-speaker one of these days.
But before I aim for a smart-home, I aim for a simple-home.