We have a tendency to think of home automation in terms of new technologies with new features. In fact, the terms ‘home automation’ and ‘new’ seem inseparable. But think about it. The home automation concept is not really new at all. It is just the next step in our ongoing labor-saving journey.
Anything we choose to automate suddenly seems futuristic when the decision to do so is first made. Imagine what it must have been like to see the very first washing machine prototype. It probably seemed rather futuristic to entrust your laundry to a machine with a mechanical agitator and spinning extraction tank. Washing machines are so common today that we take them for granted.
You could make a similar case for just about all of the labor-saving devices we utilize. At the time they were first imagined, they were revolutionary. They were the stuff of futuristic dreams. Today, things like smart speakers and voice-controlled lighting have taken center stage. What are these devices if not labor-saving devices?
The Difference Between Imagination and Reality
Perhaps that which separates our futuristic visions of home automation from common labor-saving devices is nothing more than the difference between imagination and reality. Imagining what future home automation might be like is exciting and adventurous. Giving any thought to the realities of your washing machine or dishwasher offers a level of excitement that can only be measured in negative terms.
Do you remember the James Bond movies of the 60s and 70s? Even some of the 1980s Bond iterations glamorized home automation. All of the villains lived in technologically-advanced homes where virtually everything was controlled remotely. Those films taught us to dream about automated window blinds and lighting. They clued us in on the possibility of using a single control panel to operate multiple features from anywhere in the home.
Much of what was imagined back then is reality today. But guess what? Reality does not look as glamorous or exciting. Reality is also not so big. Rather than relying on huge control panels the size of an office desk, we can control our home automation systems with a comparatively small cell phone that fits in the back pocket. That is really the difference between imagination and reality.
It is About Making Life Easier
Look across the entire history of home automation and labor-saving devices and it quickly becomes apparent that the whole concept is built around making life easier. For example, washing machines were invented to make doing the laundry easier than it was at the time. Dishwashers made cleaning up after dinner easier while forced air HVAC made it easier to heat and cool the home.
Our modern labor-saving devices run the gamut from voice-controlled lighting through to remotely accessible door locks. Companies like Vivint Smart Home even combine home automation and security to create fully integrated platforms that offer features previous generations never even imagined.
What do they all have in common? The desire to reduce the amount of labor necessary to operate a home. In some cases, labor-saving devices also increase energy efficiency, offering a financial benefit alongside greater convenience and less work.
Modern home automation is usually not so exciting when we turn our imaginations into reality. But it is still functional, nevertheless. What we consider the home automation of the 21st century is just the next step in our journey toward reducing labor. Looked at in that context, home automation is no longer the stuff of future dreams. It is the process of reducing labor in the here and now.